Coming from director Guillermo del Toro, it’s no surprise that Pacific Rim focuses on dazzling visuals more than anything else. It’s a summer spectacle of the highest order that’s actually worth seeing in IMAX.
Who’s in it? Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), Charlie Day (Dr. Newton Geizler), Burn Gorman (Dr. Hermann Gottlieb), Ron Perlman (Hannibal Chau)
What’s it about? Gigantic monsters called Kaiju have been rising up from a portal in the Pacific (duh) Ocean over the last several years, destroying coastal cities and killing millions in their wake. And so the world pulled together to create Jaegers (equally gigantic monster-fighting robots, each controlled by two pilots who do this weird mind-meld thingy called “drifting”) in an attempt to save mankind from total destruction. Now the battle is coming to a head, as even-more-gigantic Kaiju are appearing more frequently and Jaeger numbers are dwindling. Can the remaining Jaeger pilots “cancel the Apocalypse”?
What’s good? If you’re anything like me, you took one look at the posters and ads for Pacific Rim and thought, “Wow, that’s going to be SO bad.” I had zero interest in this movie, despite the fact that del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) was involved. I guess it just reminded me too much of Transformers, which I am OVER. But I found myself quickly pulled in by the astounding visuals and get-right-to-the-point storyline. So many films this summer feature extensive set-up. It was refreshing to just have the screenwriters (del Toro and Travis Beacham) trust the audience enough to be able to follow things after a brief upfront summary.
On a related note, I have to applaud any action movie whose plot wasn’t drawn from an existing franchise (hello, all superhero movies) or that isn’t (obviously) setting itself up for a sequel. Pacific Rim gets checks in both those boxes.
And as you’ve all heard me say a million times, I’m not a fan of 3D. The 3D was barely noticeable in this movie (so if you’re seeing it at a normal theater, go for 2D), but what IS worth it if you have the option is seeing it in IMAX. Wow. I mean, just, wow. Some of the scenes were so beautiful I nearly teared up. So that finally answers the age-old question, “Can a monster vs. robot battle sequence be gorgeous?” Why, yes. Yes it can.
What could’ve been better? With the exception of Elba’s strong performance, the acting is pretty pathetic. There’s an ongoing subplot involving jealous bickering between two scientists which seemed like something out of a bad ’80s movie. (And sorry, though I know a lot of people like him, I’ve just never been a Charlie Day fan—his voice BUGS.) The supposedly serious scenes involving the various Jaeger pilots always came off as melodramatic or cheesy, with Kikuchi’s performance being the worst of the lot. But I guess the good news is that the majority of Pacific Rim‘s two-hour-plus running time is filled with action sequences, so the talky-talky parts aren’t too painful to bear.
The bottom line: I assumed Pacific Rim was going to be all-caps AWFUL, judging from its trailers and commercials. Now I feel defensive, or maybe even a little protective, about it and hope people give this movie a chance. I really did have fun watching it and can’t remember the last time I’ve been so spellbound by visuals on the big (or in this case, REALLY big) screen.