Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman
Written by: Guillermo del Toro and (also story) Travis Beacham
Running Time: 132 mins
Release date: 12th July 2013
A few weeks ago I wrote a review about Man Of Steel, in which I complained that the final hour plus was nothing more than loud noises and building being destroyed on almost a loop effect. Now comes Pacific Rim, a film that is even louder than Man Of Steel and for the whole length of its running time it is a succession of buildings being destroyed. Instead of superheroes, however, we have giant robots battling giant monsters…and it is so much fun!
The world is at war. Aliens have been discovered under water in the Pacific and on a regular occurrence, they come out to try and destroy the human race. The humans have a battle plan, by creating giant robots which are piloted by two similar minded souls who can fight in sync with each other. Raleigh Becket and his elder brother, Yancy, are perfect as they share the same thoughts and memories. When a battle goes horribly wrong, Raleigh escapes and goes into hiding for five years.
The monsters are winning and in a last hope attempt, leader Marshal Stacker Pentecost tracks down the wandering soldier to join the team once more in order to save the world. Teaming him up with trainee Mako Mori, they have once last hope to end the war and save civilization.
There’s nothing to the plot at all. It’s your usual men on a mission to save the world, only this time as giant robots battling giant monsters. That’s the difference. Reminiscent of all those old Godzilla films, this is a big, loud, expensive blockbuster that doesn’t subscribe to be anything else but a big, loud, expensive blockbuster. It doesn’t try to be clever or try to dazzle us with science. It is what it is and for that alone it works.
Director Guillermo del Toro has made some superb fantasy films, none more so than the excellent, Pan’s Labyrinth. He is highly regarded by many as the master of the genre and some might say he is slacking off here but I say no. Far from it. It is quite easy to make a disaster out of this kind of film. Look, for example, at the Roland Emmerich version of Godzilla (the only film I ever walked out of) and, of course, the Transformers series. Films that take the giant monster/ robots and makes a complete pigs ear out of it. Del Toro doesn’t. In fact, he has managed to make an hugely entertaining film out of something that really shouldn’t be.
How has he done this? Firstly, by never taking the whole thing seriously. We all know this is utter nonsense. So does he. He has his tongue rammed so hard in his cheek, it’s almost coming out of his face. There are moments of beautifully timed humour. There’s moments of complete absurdity. And there’s giant robots battling giant monsters.
He also has the good sense of allowing the audience to see everything. With so many of these films the camera work is so frantic, you haven’t a clue what is going on. Even though there are moments of that here, they are not as frequent as others and so you can get your bearings and follow what’s happening. He also has surrounded himself with a strong cast. Charlie Hunnam is perfect as the blonde haired, blue eyed hero while Rinko Kikuchi, so good in Norwegian Wood and Babel, gets to show her tougher side as Mako Mori. Then there’s the always brilliant Idris Elba, who even in nonsense like this, delivers a powerhouse of a performance that is both commanding and compelling.
What del Toro film would be complete without an appearance from Ron Perlman, this time playing a black marketeer, he brings some added colour and humour to the whole proceedings and is always a welcome cast member.
You might be wondering then why I liked this and not Man Of Steel. Simple. Man Of Steel was just repetitive while this is repetitive with style and humour and great special effects and without the fancy camerawork. It’s a massive popcorn movie on an enormous scale and I advise you to see it in Imax (the 3D also works). Also, stay after the credits for a very short but funny extra scene.
Pacific Rim is not perfect by any standard. It is slightly too long and there is a flabby middle section but any film that can make me feel like a 10 year old boy gets my vote. Just sit back and enjoy. By the way, did I mention it was giant robots battling giant monsters?