I must admit, I had my reservations for this movie and I’m not talking about my reservations for my front row center seats at the theater. The kaiju film is an Asian lost art that us Western audiences only imitate with lousy efforts of Godzilla remake, Cloverfield and Super 8. A giant monster attack movie is cheesy just in it’s premise alone. Also, the premature word of mouth talk got on my nerves at the get-go. Guillermo del Toro has his fanbase swarming all around it. Look, I respect him as an auteur from what I’ve seen. His creature effects are astounding in Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy but he doesn’t have a long track record to demands his name come before the title like Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained or Christopher Nolan’s new project Interstellar. Once he has a solid history we can start doing that. Luckily, I believe Pacific Rim will be a film in his arsenal that we can begin to give him this treatment.
Pacific Rim is set in a near-future with technology far beyond our reach. Enormous monsters have come from the depths of the ocean through a portal between dimensions to reek havoc on Earth. The human’s response after the traditional efforts of militaristic fighting has turned us to build comparable sized robots to combat this threat. Through neural linking, two pilots have to pilot one of these mega machines. That’s about all you need to know to enjoy this flick. And all this is told in a very original beginning sequence that immediately got you interested and pumped about what you’re about to watch.
The characters that inhabit this world are easily likable and entertaining even though some of the performances border on cheese and campy. But the script lended to the characters being center of the story, not just the monsters and robots. Each of the central characters had backstories that made them relatable and real to the audiences and gave meaning to their actions. There were no huge names in the cast except for probably Ron Perlman. I wish every big movie would take this page out of this book by casting relatively unknowns.
It isn’t a movie chalk full of meaning and self-reflection nor does it aim to be like that, which is fine. As long as we can understand the motivations behind these characters and sympathize with them in some kind of way it has done its job. We root for them and mourn with them at the right times. It’s a fairly simple three act structure that doesn’t detract from what it is conveying.
I knew del Toro’s work has been visual; which I’m sure he can accredit to his art directors and cinematographers. But this stood out in every way. Every frame, color, design was intentional and outstanding. All the sets and action sequences were amazing to watch and wonder at. A director’s job is to tell his vision to the proper people. You can tell that del Toro’s vision was executed in the best way throughout every shot.
I also had my doubts that the action scenes would be too slow that they would lean to the side of boring. How wrong I have been. The action was quite speedy and shot well enough that it wasn’t a cluster of unintelligible fighting. None of the wrestling robot and monster fights ever got boring or old even though there were only 3 major fights in it’s 2 hour 12 minute run time. It didn’t need any more or less.
Although it wasn’t wholly original (huge monster movies have been done before), this was an original idea and it should renew faith that Hollywood isn’t a sequel and adaptation factory.
Verdict: It’s rip-roaring action fun dripping of cool. See it as soon as you can at any theater price!
What did you think of this year’s most original popcorn muncher?
Summer’s Best of List (So far)
1) Star Trek: Into Darkness
2) Pacific Rim
3) Iron Man 3
4) Man of Steel
5) Monsters University
6) Now You See Me
7) After Earth
8) This Is The End
9) The Great Gatsby
10) World War Z
11) The Lone Ranger