Movie Review: 'PACIFIC RIM' - 100% Eye Candy

If you want action...larger-than-life, city destroying action, then "Pacific Rim" delivers in spades. If you want character development and meaningful payoff at the film's conclusion, you're better off looking elsewhere.

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By Mark Julian - 7/17/2013



" There's no complexity or mental stimulation to be had from Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim." The depth of the storytelling on display is on par with Michael Bays "Transformers" films. If you love or hate that franchise, you'll feel the same way about "Pacific Rim."



Foolishly, I went in to Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" expecting a captivating story to balance out some impressive "mecha on kaiju" battle porn but I was unfortunately treated to "Transformers - bigger, badder, more destructive." This film is 100% eye-candy wrapped in a story that's about as substantial as rice paper. Admittedly, the film never presented itself as something other than what it is, yet the association of Del Toro and his filmography implies something greater than what was delivered. There are multiple storylines running throughout "Pacific Rim" but none of them are the least bit captivating or mentally stimulating. Aside from the epic battles between kaiju (giant monsters) and jaeger (giant robots), the audience is given nothing to savor or appreciate in the internal and external conflicts presented by the main cast. Charlie Hunnam plays Raleigh Becket, a troubled jaeger pilot who lost his brother in a kaiju battle only for circumstances to place him back in the cockpit of a jaeger five years later. Strangely, we never see Becket outwardly troubled by the loss of his brother (Diego Klattenhoff), he brings up his loss repeatedly yet it never truly has an emotional impact as he mentions the event and then immediately moves on. If Becket doesn't seem to care about the loss of his brother, why should the audience?

There's also the subplot of Mako Mori played by Rinko Kikuchi and her relationship with Idris Elba who portrays Stacker Pentecost . There's a father/daughter subtext between the two characters, which is odd as they look pretty close in age. The movie would have you believe that a very young Mako is adopted by Pentecost some 20 years ago which is perfectly fine except for the fact that while Mako becomes a middle-aged woman, Pentecost doesn't age a single day! There's also a subplot concerning the physical condition of Pentecost who's deteriorating health means that if he ever pilots another jaeger he'll die...except during the film's climax, he climbs into the cockpit of a jaeger with no perceivable ill effects whatsoever. It's a very questionable decision to foreshadow a very particular endgame for Pentecost only to have something completely unrelated and generic befall the character.

There's also key moments given to the scientists of the film, Dr. Newton Geiszler played by Charlie Day, Gottlieb played by Burn Gorman and black market dealer Hannibal Chau played by Ron Perlman. These characters appear to be based on the most hyper chromatic anime you can possibly imagine, they're all style and no substance. The most well-balanced characters in the film are that of father-son duo Herc Hansen and Chuck Hansen played by Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky. While every other character is operating at a 12 on a caricature scale of one-to-ten, the cocky yet capable son and the steadfast, well-meaning father are the only reality grounding points.

Visually, the world of "Pacific Rim" also comes straight out of an anime - the towns, the base of operations, even the names carry an anime flair. This is where the film excels but its Eastern influences may be something of a head-scratcher for a Western audience. A significant portion of the film displays severe and resolute Eastern ideals of respect, duty and honor which differs greatly from the Western definition. As a fan of anime, the influence and nods to "Mazinger Z" and other series were readily apparent (and appreciated) but such acknowledgements may be lost on the casual moviegoer. The action and vfxs are naturally (and obviously) the film's strength. However, the actual combat is a mixture of various techniques and moves that have already been done inprevious films, "Pacific Rim" just deliver it on a grander scale. Still, the physical weight and motion of the jaegers and kaijus is a fantastic accomplishment and seems to be where the greatest number of sleepless production nights was spent. At the end of the day, it's giant robots and monsters rampaging through an urban city, a surreal concept yet except for a scene or two, the film maintains a visual realism that more than a few previous summer blockbusters would envy.

"Pacific Rim" is all about the visuals of giant robots fighting giant monsters. That's the film del Toro stated he wanted to make and that's the film he delivered. Check your expectations derived from his previous body of work at the door. The surrounding story merely serves the visuals as the film is mecha anime given a real world representation. While the film didn't satisfy even the smallest portion of my intellectual cinematic cravings in the least it still delivered what it advertised.




MORE REVIEWS FROM AROUND CBM


whoa123: "Even though the film suffers from story depth and charisma from the lead actor, this film is clearly a style over substance type of movie, it still managed to entertain me and gives one hell of an experience to my inner child and that was one awesome experience that is truly unforgettable."




NeoBaggins: "Guillermo del Toro has made his worst film to date and ironically its success will be in large part due to his name being attached."




Citizen: "Pacific Rim is just a fun summer blockbuster movie, as it was intended to be."





Running Time: 2 hrs 11 min
Release Date: July 12th, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
MPAA Rating:Charlie Hunan, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Travis Beacham

"When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse."
Source: Examiner
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ABLEE337 - 7/17/2013, 4:58 AM
Glad I bailed out on my friends in going to see this.
Facade - 7/17/2013, 5:04 AM
Ratings for a Transformer-like movie shouldn't be judged differently than an Argo-like movie. Just because this is a Summer "popcorn flick" doesn't mean it gets a free pass. Storytelling still matters despite its use of the latest and greatest eye candy. Great review! I'll likely see it AND it'll likely receive a 3-3.5 stars (as it should), because it's not intended to be more than that.
ABLEE337 - 7/17/2013, 5:04 AM
Did Guillermo del Toro ever make a film without any monsters?
TheGambitFreakIsBatmanOfCBM - 7/17/2013, 5:04 AM
Terrific film, and any shortcomings people have problems with, such as character development and personality... I mean really, a film that is obviously pure homage to the Kaiju genre, as where most of those films are consumed by helpess bystanders yelling "GOJIRA!" at the top of their lungs, and your wanting this intricate plot convenience where the humanoid characters go through some sort of revelation and what not? It's called Pacific Rim, ya'll! The freaking signature for the damn thing is "To fight Monsters, we created Monsters."

Did you really expect anything other than [frick]ing giant ass robots beating the shit out of some monsters?!


MightyZeus - 7/17/2013, 5:11 AM
I did expect more action in this film. I mean i wanted giant robots and aliens fighting each other. I mean there was just too much talking and not enough action.

Which is why this film was 'meh'.
whoa123 - 7/17/2013, 5:19 AM
Thanks for featuring my review! And great review too! :)
CyberBishop - 7/17/2013, 5:20 AM
@ ckal I agree with you.
charlie2094 - 7/17/2013, 5:32 AM
Funny how it's okay for Del Toro's giant robot film to just be "fun" but Transformers is slamed (on here at least" for being the exact same. Disappointed in this. Just because it has giant robots doesn't mean it can't have decent writing, good story/character development etc. Works a lot better having style and substance, than just one.
subzero1077 - 7/17/2013, 5:37 AM
Glad i didn't see this now. I'll wait for blu-ray.
CyberBishop - 7/17/2013, 5:41 AM
This was a fun monster movie straight off.

And at the end when Striker Eureka exploded Del Toro gave us a Jaeger bomb....

Ba dum dum..
TheGambitFreakIsBatmanOfCBM - 7/17/2013, 5:41 AM
I don't hate Transformers for those reasons. I loathe Transformers for the unnecessary add-ons like testicles on the Robots and robots desiring to hump Meagan Fox's leg. It's shit like that that makes me facepalm. Transformers is one of those films that does not need human characters at all, other than bystanders getting killed, honestly.

Pacific Rim had a reason for it's human characters. Besides, Kaiju films are just that. They ARE just meant to be "fun". While getting a metaphor and moral across occasionally (Nuclear bombings, etc.) Sure some of them were annoying, but same could be said for any film. Now Transformers, that has history, it has a major story. And to just make it fun and all that, it essentially gives the finger to all of it's fans in a way.

Pacific Rim/Kaiju films are in a different category than Transformers. One is meant to just entertain, while another is meant to actually tell a story.
TheGambitFreakIsBatmanOfCBM - 7/17/2013, 5:42 AM
"Sure some of them were annoying, but same could be said for any film."

^^^^ I was referring to characters.
TheBoss117 - 7/17/2013, 5:43 AM
This movie is worth seeing in IMAX for the fight scenes alone. Especially to fully enjoy the scope of how massive the Kaiju and Jaegars are. Best IMAX experience i've had since Avatar

As for the story and characters.....eh
Nubase - 7/17/2013, 5:47 AM
What character development do you want in a movie like this?

The stars of the movie are the robots and the monsters, not the actors.

Movies like these will not win Oscars for best male and best female and movie of the year.

Its a popcorn movie.

Nubase - 7/17/2013, 5:48 AM
Godzilla is coming soon

what do you want from that?, you want to see when Godzilla is a little baby and watch him grow up?

its not gona happen
Facade - 7/17/2013, 5:59 AM
@Nubase...Raiders of the Lost Ark and New Hope were Summer "popcorn" flicks with character development. Is it too much to ask that there is substance in a Summer blockbuster movie? Nope.
fettastic - 7/17/2013, 6:04 AM
Expect "It's about giant robots fighting giant monsters" presented as a defense ad nauseam.
Jebediah - 7/17/2013, 6:07 AM
@Facade I defnitely think that these type of blockbusters should be judged differently. These type of movies fall somewhere between dramatic film and a disneyland ride. Del-Toro should be applauded for his use of practical effects (inside the Jaegers) and ILM did a frickin amazing job with the CGI. Those aspects, and the the cinematography are the films biggest strengths. The movie is fun and thus shouldn't be held to the same standard as Oscar bait movies. You can't have the type of extended figtht scenes as well as character development and fit it all in 2 hours and 11. Well, you can but it's very difficult and as we have seen with even the most talented writers and directors, it's very hard to pull off. I think we need to cut these types of films some slack. Guys like Red Letter Media just shit on everything mainstream and while some of it is warranted ( The star wars prequels) I think those guys don't understand Hollywood. Not all characters have to be three dimensional. Think about the Joker, is he a 3-dimensional character, no, he's just madness incarnate but that doesn't mean he's not a damn good character.
Nivekian - 7/17/2013, 6:15 AM
So much review trolling for this flick and MOS, you would think this place is here to diminish fan anticipation and downplay hype. And to the morons that think this movie should be judged the same way you would rate a film like Argo, you have no place even talking about rating films, because it damn obvious you don't enjoy films like the majority of people do. Films are meant to be escapist fare, entertainment, not every film should be Oscar bait drama.
Facade - 7/17/2013, 6:15 AM
@Jebediah...so a 5 star review would have been completely acceptable here?! McDonalds shouldn't EVER get a 5 star review (even if judged against other fast foods).
Facade - 7/17/2013, 6:17 AM
@Nivekian...you're right, I don't blindly follow like a sheep.
FatCat33 - 7/17/2013, 6:25 AM
I went to into this film expecting a spectacle and that's what I got. As far as drama goes, how bout Yancy being ripped out of the cockpit, and the Mako Mori flashback? True the depth of characters took a back seat to the action, but that's what made it fun.
fettastic - 7/17/2013, 6:30 AM
Just to sharpen the point, saying "It's about giant robots fighting giant monsters" as a defense is exactly like defending X3......because we saw good mutants fighting bad mutants right? So what difference does it make that it didn't have much character development? That doesn't actually matter right?

Why attack Emerrich's Godzilla? Did it not showcase plenty of Godzilla destruction? Oh for THAT MOVIE character development and quality acting is somehow required?

Didn't like Real Steel? Did it not feature lots of robots fighting other robots? Isn't that what that movie was supposed to be about?

Are you beginning to see what a completely [frick]ing retarded defense that is?
Ramiel - 7/17/2013, 6:59 AM
So, Ror, Josh, and now Mark didn't like this movie. FLOP!
Jolt17 - 7/17/2013, 7:11 AM
This movie is a tough sell - it's a giant love letter to a certain target, that not everyone can read and accept. If you're one of the targets - I consider myself so - then I'm pretty sure you can have a good time with it. But is it necessarily a well-made movie? There's no denying that it's not. Clichéd story, archetypal characters, so-so acting...but it seems to me, that it's all intentional; it treats itself as one big cartoon, just like the many titles we were used to with during out childhood, and it doesn't try to be anything more. Not at all. Mark has said it best above, "These characters appear to be based on the most hyper chromatic anime you can possibly imagine, they're all style and no substance."

I liked it, but if I'm to rate the movie, I can't push myself to give it anything more than three stars out of five, either. Because from a technical aspect, that's what it is. And sure, you can make excuses like, "This should just be pure entertainment," and I do that myself in order to justify my expectations, but in the end, a movie still has to be treated like its common others.
Nomis1800 - 7/17/2013, 7:13 AM
i can wait for the BR
Teo - 7/17/2013, 7:56 AM
super brave Josh Wilding just blocked me on twitter for a humorous comment about his AWESOME (haha) review of Pacific Rim.
God Complex anyone?
lookin' forward to see it again, this time in Imax 3D.
Manica di ciuccia bacon incestuosi.
maryboo - 7/17/2013, 7:57 AM
I don't understand how you guys love the mediocrity that are most Marvel films when they have just about as much complexity and depth as this movie did.

Hell, this movie even put Man of Steel to shame in most areas but you all still loved that movie.
heisei24 - 7/17/2013, 8:09 AM
Kyos - 7/17/2013, 8:42 AM
I really disliked the Transformers movies, and I still expect to like Pacific Rim a lot. I have problems understanding those who say "if you like one, you have to like the other", because I think that's not the case at all.

I watched the Transformers movies (not in the cinema, mind you) expecting to get an entertaining and visually exciting "robots vs robots" experience, and all I got was an offensively stupid and visually unappealing mess.

Pacific Rim lookes like it will give me entertaining and visually appealing "mechas vs monsters" action, and frankly that's all I want from it.

So far I got more enjoyment out the Pacific Rim trailers than I got from the whole second and third Tranformers movies combined...
JettJagguarrr - 7/17/2013, 8:56 AM
I love it when you idiots say..."I'm glad I went to see something else other than Pacific Rim." Same idiots who went to see Grown Ups 2.
richardhole - 7/17/2013, 9:12 AM
yeah obviously people reviewing this movie forget that it's a movie about Giant Monsters vs. Giant Robots... what the heck do they want, the dialogue of a Tarantino film? Take off you hosers! it's popcorn flick, you go for the action...
Googs - 7/17/2013, 9:12 AM
This movie was the dumbest, most hackneyed, badly acted, plot hole ridden derp of a movie and I give it 5/5 easily for being some of the most fun ive had at the movies in ages.
no matter what the critique you levy at this film, giant robot & monster fighting counters any argument. awesome film.
jjk2814 - 7/17/2013, 9:14 AM
You consider Rinko Kukuchi middle-aged????? Are you really young or do I have to accept the fact that at 29 my life if well based half over????

Stopped reading after that bit...
aRandomSinisterClone - 7/17/2013, 9:22 AM
wow, the mains on this site, apparently dont like anything, but trash like fast N furious 6. Mark, give us your ratings of other movies this summer, so we can rate you, and judge what type of movies you like or dislike.
SpiderBat209 - 7/17/2013, 9:36 AM
I'm not expecting "The Godfather" here; this IS the 1st installment, after all. Maybe the sequel will have a killer-@$$ "Empire Strikes Back" "The Dark Knight" Story that'll make up for what the first flick lacked?

Whatever the case, I'm going this Friday! IMAX 3-D, Baby! Hell, Yeah! :D
crazyray - 7/17/2013, 9:41 AM
In terms of writing reviews:

Mark Julian>Ror>MultiPurposePony>JoshWilding

Delete that!

Dug the review. Honest, well written, non-trolling. As it should be.
NeoBaggins - 7/17/2013, 9:54 AM
Good looks on the quote Shout-Out, MJ! But I guess I should have said "appeal" instead of "success" being that Rim's box office numbers don't fit the standard of success users express here. Peep my Full Review

The double-standard against Transformers and the like should be an article unto itself. We're told to HATE Transformers, but relax and have fun with PACIFIC RIM.
jimthev - 7/17/2013, 9:56 AM
If you are going to rate down Pacific Rim because it doesn't have Citizen Kane's story, then you have to rate down Citizen Kane because it doesn't have giant robots fighting giant monsters. I honestly don't know if a gut wrenching character driven story could be inserted and would let you still have such mindless fun while watching the robot battles. Can rosebud and elbow rockets exist in the same movie while both have the same effect?

Right now there are tons of kids battling their little brothers with rocket punches. Isn't that a good enough 'win' for a movie?
fettastic - 7/17/2013, 10:06 AM
"Expect 'It's about giant robots fighting giant monsters' presented as a defense ad nauseam."

"I think we need to cut these types of films some slack."

"Films are meant to be escapist fare, entertainment, not every film should be Oscar bait drama."

"True the depth of characters took a back seat to the action, but that's what made it fun."

"Pacific Rim lookes like it will give me entertaining and visually appealing "mechas vs monsters" action, and frankly that's all I want from it."

"Mechs + Monsters = WIN!"

"people reviewing this movie forget that it's a movie about Giant Monsters vs. Giant Robots"

"giant robot & monster fighting counters any argument."

"then you have to rate down Citizen Kane because it doesn't have giant robots fighting giant monsters."

DAMN I'm good!
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