Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pacific Rim

**** out of ****
THANK GOODNESS!!! Just when I was doubtful that I would ever have fun seeing a mega-budget summer movie again, here comes Guillermo del Toro’s, Pacific Rim, a loud explosion-filled CGI show that’s over two hours, and get this: It’s FUN! When it reached the point of two hours, I wasn’t ready for it to end. When it kept going, I felt nothing but gratification.

This is Del Toro’s love letter to Anime, Kaiju movies… or anything that ever involved a robot fighting a lizard. In spite of a brief history included in the film’s prologue, we as an audience are dropped right in the middle of a bleak future where a war between mankind and giant inter-dimensional city-destroying creatures continues. The monsters have been coming through a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at an exponential rate as the years have passed. The last efforts are being made to assemble a worldwide coalition of man-driven giant robots to combat the invaders. 

The lead-character pilots and their commander, played respectively by Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba are amusingly melodramatic. The comic relief mad scientists assisting the mission played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, actually succeed in simultaneously being funny and essential to the story. When Del Toro regular, Ron Perlman shows up late in the game, as a bizarre black market kingpin, the movie gets even cooler. I also like that this movie has no super-stars - only a few well liked character actors. I find this refreshing. 

While this has been a movie summer hell-bent on mass destruction, Pacific Rim is the only one (aside from the hilarious This Is The End) that doesn’t take the apocalyptic atmosphere too seriously. It doesn’t try very hard to sell us on the plausibility or practicality of what we’re watching. It’s simply steeped in the fun of the genre and for that, the loss of lives implied doesn’t have the depressing effects of a film that aims for realism.

This has always been the case with Del Toro films. He creates a stylized reality where the invading supernatural elements seem to fit. Whether it’s his vampire-like cursed man in Cronos, the magical realism creatures in Pan's Labyrinth, or the various trolls and demons in the Hellboy films, the guy is in love with destructive monsters! A lot of boys are and we never grow out of it.

The other thing that makes this movie so enjoyable is the creativity that went into it. The concept of the giant fighting machines having a neural link with the human pilot may be familiar, but in this movie, two pilots are required to guide the right and left hemispheres of the big guy’s brain (If done solo, it is implied to be overwhelming). The challenge is that they need to be compatible with one another when a bond is formed in the sharing of their minds.

Please understand that my high praise is not meant to imply that this is high-art. It doesn’t aim to be. It aims to be a grand-scale live-action anime movie and it succeeds with flying colors. This is great entertainment. Why it’s failing at the box office, is an injustice that mystifies me. As far as the rest of the summer goes, I don’t think it’s getting better than this. Pacific Rim is my salvation.


  1. Total agreement. What did you think of red letter's appraisal of the character development?

    1. I like that Mike drifted away from feeling like it was important.