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Pacific Rim – 8

Director – Guillermo del Toro

Cast – Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Clifton Collins Jr., Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr., Diego Klattenhoff, Mana Ashida

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The one film that I have been looking most forward to this year is not You’re Next, The Conjuring, or Insidious Chapter 2, but Pacific Rim – Guillermo Del Toro’s first directorial effort since 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I knew that this would not be a devout horror film, and it did not need to be. It has giant monsters fighting giant robots in a race to save mankind from an alien apocalypse, and that is horror enough for me. I went into this experience hoping for a summer blockbuster experience, and I was given that and so much more. With incredible action, heinous monsters, excellent direction and a positive screenplay, Pacific Rim is a solid two-hour experience that I suggest you become a part of.

In the 2020s an unpredictable phenomena occurs when giant monsters identified as Kaijus arise from a portal in a crevasse beneath the Pacific Ocean. With Earth under attack, humanity unites to create the Jaegers: gigantic humanoids each controlled by two pilots whose minds are joined by a mental bridge known as the “neural handshake”. Six years of war have passed and with humanity losing faith in the Jaeger’s abilities to continuously fight the Kaijus, washed-up Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket is called out of retirement and teamed with Japanese rookie pilot Mako Mori in a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaiju before a greater, un-winnable battle begins.

I really cannot help but applaud writer Travis Beacham for coming up with this awesome story and teaming with Guillermo del Toro to write a pretty solid adaptation of his comic. The story begins in awe-inspiring fashion, throwing us into the current state of worldly affairs where gigantic creatures are constantly bombarding humanity and causing massive casualties, both intentional and of collateral damage stemming from Earth’s answer to the Kaiju, the Jaegers. Watching these giant manned robots fight prehistoric-looking monsters is incredible and gives us battles that are heavily influenced by the godfather of giant monster films, Godzilla creator Ishiro Honda. Grande, epic scenes of battles destroying entire cities grace the screen, but this story is not merely one focused on brute force. Beacham and del Toro take on a monstrous (pun not really intended) task of mixing so many ideas and elements into a two hour experience, and they take ample time in developing some of the characters. Both of our leads, Raleigh and Mako have haunting pasts involving the Kaiju, with Raleigh losing his brother when a Kaiju successfully downed their Jaeger and Mako losing her family when a Kaiju attacked Japan. Pairing the once great Raleigh with the inexperienced and “not really” Mako proves to be a challenging task, but naturally their duties are called upon when things get bad. My only gripe regarding the characters was that there seemed to be so many awesome characters in the film that did not receive the time of day. The angry Russian duo looked awesome, as did the Chinese triplets, but in the end we did not get to know these characters and were only given our main characters and an aggressive but enjoyable Irish father-son duo. Aside from this the film keeps us on edge and visually engaged throughout its 132 minute ride. One other thing I noticed was that this came with a lot more deaths than the typical summer blockbusters, and the deaths were shocking as well. The collateral damage is high, something unseen in films like The Avengers where destruction is everywhere, but what really made the film standout was the fact that good, likeable people die as well and in heartbreaking fashion. For a 132 minute film it never dragged and managed to keep my attention throughout its three solid acts, which included a climax that was pretty typical, but expected for the blockbuster film this is.

You’ve never had a knuckle-sandwich like this…

Guillermo del Toro’s direction is the same as it always has been – great. This is by far the most epic undertaking he has accomplished and it shows throughout every minute of the film. He employs amazing visuals, engagingly complex sets, and solid camerawork to keep us glued to the screen throughout the film’s many action sequences and interesting developmental sequences. The acting performances are fun and enjoyable, with Idris Elba stealing the show as Stacker Pentecost – the man in charge of the Jaeger program. Also, I fell deeply in love with Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori and wish to marry her in the very near future. Most importantly (and realistically) though, del Toro’s execution of the creature action was incredible. I could not believe how downright spectacular the gigantic creatures were, and watching them do battle with 250 foot tall robots was an incredible sight on del Toro expertly brought to the screen. There is not very much “horror” for us to marvel at, with the ghastly creatures serving as the creepiest thing the film has to offer, but I can see horror films easily enjoying this excellent blockbuster of a film.

Overall, Pacific Rim is a fantastic adventure that I highly suggest you give a watch to. This may not be a devout horror film, but it comes from a horror directly who will surely give us enough tension and thrills to appease the most die-hard of creature/monster fans. The action is incredible, the monsters are awesome, and in the end Pacific Rim is one of the most enjoyable and best films of the year.

Rating: 8/10

…Additional Stills…

The moment my heart fluttered.

  1. July 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    The characters and script kind of blow, but the action is always there to save the day. Nice review John.

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