What an epic spectacle! Pacific Rim is a mixture of creativity, humanity, badassery, monsters and giant robots–yeah…it’s awesome! My excitement was justified–Guillermo del Toro has fulfilled his and my childhood dreams and reminded us what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be. As a long time fan of del Toro this is not a surprise, at all!
The story is simple (as most action films are) but it is original and intricate. The premise by Travis Beacham and co-written with del Toro is a complete universe with a solid mythology established and it is an exciting discovery. This is a rare occurrence in Hollywood today–(it does happen sometimes…Daybreakers–Looper–Matrix…to name a few) and Pacific Rim delivers a world so believable and so well thought out to the last detail, that you will find yourself immersed quickly. (And now, I want to know more! Prequel, maybe?)
I love monsters! I remember fondly watching Godzilla marathons when I was a kid (Mothra shout out!) and now I still find myself drawn to creatures of all shapes and sizes. I think it is a natural fascination with the unknown and it’s a direct manifestation of imagination and creativity. And del Toro delivers some of the coolest, most original looking monsters I’ve ever seen.
Kaiju–The word “Kaiju” is a Japanese that literally translates to “strange beast,” but is often translated in English as “monster”. And these are strange beasts indeed. Fantastic. I have to give some kudos to the film’s designers, which include Wayne Barlowe, Oscar Chichoni, monster sculptors David Meng and Simon Lee, and Hellboy II and The Hobbit designer Francisco Ruiz Velasco. Amazing.
The trailer tells you all you need to know, so I will not divulge anything extra–(you know how I like to keep you untainted by not revealing too much information). :D But, simply–the Kaiju are from another dimension and are now a problem for humanity. (I do love the time in which del Toro decides to bring us into the narrative–it was unexpected–I thought we were going to see some origin stuff, but no–interesting choice.)
So, humans unite and create our own monsters–giant robots called Jaeger–”Hunter” in German–to fight off the Kaiju. Simple. Except to operate the Jaeger you need humans–two actually–united (the “Drift”) and their human connectivity fuels and determines the level of their strength. Nice. What a clever way to insert heart and soul in a metal shell. I also enjoyed the new approach to the traditional love story–by having this drift connection it becomes more about inner compatibility than the typical attributes given to love. It is subtle and interesting. All in all, the metal shells and their human operation are absolutely awesome!
The genius is in tying humanity to the use and function of these machines. The Jaeger pilots are the robots. So when they are in danger–so are our heroes. It adds a level of investment and risk needed to enhance the action sequences. These Jaegers are incredible, too. Beautifully designed and meticulously constructed. Gypsy Danger is a Rock Star! (Reading all the design considerations that went into creating them has been quite fascinating.)
But, the fighting…wow! Not kinetic. Not sped up. Not edited down to bits. Just knock-out-drag-out fights!! Punches being swung. Monsters pounding and piercing. I am sure that my mouth fell open a few times. Hell–I know once I heard myself say “WTF? Uh-uh!” –out loud! I applauded at few kills–yes, it was mind-blowing. And all I will say is that the “we do have one more weapon” left moment is–BADASS!! I may have squealed. ;)
That is another accomplishment–the special effects and monster creations are crazy good! Industrial Light and Magic continues to impress and creates flawless effects. I was never taken out of a moment–it all had a realism to it–they made you believe all this could be possible–surreal, but plausible.
I love the cast. Mostly, I am happy to see Idris Elba front and center! ”Canceling the Apocalypse” has already become quotable since the trailer and here he does not disappoint. Elba’s Stacker Pentecost (great name) is the heart of the story really and his performance is perfect. The lovely Rinko Kikuchi (loved her in Brothers Bloom) is Mako Mori and I found her charming (her character back story is one of the most haunting) and a strong match for our hero. Charlie Hunnam‘s Raleigh Becket is our hero and although he may be the weakest link (could have been a bit more expressive), the chains are so strong around him that he is able to get by. The comedy relief is dead on! Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as resident scientists are hilarious and Mr. Ron Perlman shows up for some required helping of extra awesome.
Oh, I cannot forget to mention how gorgeous this film looked–del Toro reunited with long time collaborator Guillermo Navarro for cinematography and it’s beautiful. And the music by Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) is fantastic–listening to it now actually–within five minutes I knew I wanted to own it–soaring and sweeping with some cool Tom Morello guitar solos. Sweet.
It is clear that I can go on and on. Pacific Rim is a masterpiece. A masterpiece in scale and scope, but also with heart and originality. del Toro’s enthusiasm and love for the material is evident and you can’t help but have it rub off on you. Big, fun, creative and with a beating, human pulse. Yes. This is what summer blockbuster should be. And hopefully now Guillermo del Toro will be able to do whatever he wants! PLEASE! (Hellboy 3 has to happen.)
Go! Have fun! It’s pure awesomeness!