Pacific Rim

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Length: 132 minutes
Country: USA

The art of the Hollywood blockbuster has proven to be a difficult one to master for many directors. For every Spielberg, there’s a Ratner, for every Nolan, there’s a Bay. We have been treated to some glorious heights this summer but also some disappointing lows in the realm of the blockbuster. No film has entirely blown us away, no film has built an effective world, and no film this summer has quite yet hit the peaks of ultimate summer movie escapism (as Avengers Assemble did last year). Yet, low and behold, the mighty conquistador Guillermo del Toro comes along and makes the whole business look easy. What he has delivered is the ultimate summer entertainment; an action picture set within its own unique and amazingly detailed world, an original amongst a cluttered summer of sequels and adaptations.

Pacific Rim takes place in a futuristic 2020 (yes, amazingly this all happens in only seven years time), on an Earth which has been battling mysterious and incredibly hostile monsters called the ‘Kaiju’, who have entered Earth through an inter-dimensional portal deep within the Pacific ocean. To battle these monsters, the nations of the world pull together to build Jaegers, giant robots piloted by two controllers who must have perfect compatibility in order to be effective. With the Kaiju attacking harder and harder, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) has very little time to lead a final assault that could bring about the end of the Kaiju. In order for the plan to have any chance of success, Pentecost must bring together the greatest Jaeger pilots he has ever known, among them Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), who is joined by rookie co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).

Initially, and as the marketing campaign would have you believe, Pacific Rim does not look anything special or particularly unique. Big robots we’ve seen. Big monsters we’ve seen. However, del Toro is not looking to the Bay school of action for inspiration, he’s drawing his eye to a more unknown genre; the ‘Kaiju’ sub-genre of Japanese sci-fi movies of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s a genre best known for producing the original Godzilla, along with many other vast and crazy monsters. Mixed in with a dash of mecha anime, del Toro has produced a loving tribute to Eastern sub-genres that Western audiences may not be too familiar with.

Pacific Rim has some of the best action sequences of the year; coherent action in which we are made constantly aware of the human effort and struggle that is going in to operating these giants of robotics

Opening in the US on the same weekend as Grown Ups 2, del Toro’s monster mash had to settle for a place behind Adam Sandler’s latest piece of self-indulgent tripe on celluloid. It is a crime to a film that has some of the best action sequences of the year; coherent action in which we are made constantly aware of the human effort and struggle that is going in to operating these giants of robotics.

A film with giant robots and monsters battling each other should have no illusions about itself. It is a ridiculous scenario, and it is one that Pacific Rim fully embraces. With gleeful destruction and fist pumping action, del Toro manages to craft a unique world behind all the chaos, placing the action in a bright, colourful and wondrously detailed environment that can only be the work of the man who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth. Creature designs and character nuances are strange, bizarre, and entirely del Toro. It just so happens the film also has blockbuster friendly epic scale battles.

The cast is also fully aware of what it is they are a part of. The dialogue is cheesy, clichéd, yet wholly rousing in the best way an action movie should be. Star of the hit TV show Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam, proves to be a dependable, if somewhat bland lead. The more entertaining performances are found in the supporting players; Idris Elba rattles your soul with his gravitas, Charlie Day & Ron Pearlman supply quirky comic relief, while Rinko Kikuchi plucks the heart strings with an emotional performance.

I urge you all to get out there and watch Pacific Rim. Yes, it is cheesy, yes it may lack sophistication somewhat; but a world this detailed, so lovingly constructed, deserves to be seen and respected. It is the ultimate piece of summer movie entertainment. It develops a world around you and sucks you in for a rollicking ride of unadulterated thrills, determined to unlock your inner eight year-old. It is simply escapism at its purest. Now, get out there, find the biggest screen you can, and start cancelling the apocalypse.

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