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.
" 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."
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