Cinema Scoop  

Spectacular battles in 'Pacific Rim'

Upon leaving the theatre, after having just seen the latest big summer blockbuster, Pacific Rim, I immediately harkened back to 20 years ago, when I had just seen the visually groundbreaking adventure film, Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg's film evoked such a sense of awe and wonder as he literally brought those creatures to life and made me believe that dinosaurs actually walked among us. Now, while I don't think that Pacific Rim is ever going to be considered an all-time classic like Jurassic Park, I think it achieves success in creating that sense of wonderment that allowed me to embrace the 10-year-old child within. This is fun cinema magic in its purest form.

Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) has fashioned a visually spectacular action adventure tale with set pieces so large in scale and scope that your mind will be boggled. If at some point in the film you don't utter a wow or a whoa to yourself at least once, then you seriously need to consider getting your eyes checked. Now, it would be one thing if this were merely a special effects extravaganza, but thankfully, Pacific Rim is much more than that as it contains quite a bit of heart to it and characters that you actually have a vested interest in and want to root for (take some notes, Michael Bay). 

The film is set in the not-too-distant future and mankind has become besieged by enormous alien creatures known as Kaiju (the Japanese word for giant monster). These monsters are coming up through a dimensional rip underneath the Pacific Ocean and they are so huge that they are destroying coastal cities all over the world. In order to combat these creatures, mankind creates the Jaeger (German word for hunter) program, which is essentially a gigantic robot that is piloted by two individuals who are linked by a neural bridge in a process known as "drifting" (it basically means their brains and memories are melded together and linked into the machine in order to control its actions). Right off the hop, we bear witness to the sheer size and enormity of these monsters and robots and let me tell you, it is an awe inspiring sight to behold, to say the least.

We meet Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who along with his brother, pilots one of the Jaegers. We also meet Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), a former pilot who is now in charge of the Jaeger program. The Becket brothers are sent out on a mission to destroy an attacking Kaiju and something goes tragically wrong, resulting in Raleigh deciding to quit the program and go work construction building a giant coastal wall meant to keep the Kaijus at bay. Years pass, and when it becomes apparent that the giant wall will not help them (the monsters are simply too big and can easily smash through them), Pentecost decides to gather the best Jaeger pilots from around the world, which happens to also include Raleigh. Becket realizes that the end of the world is nearly at hand, so he reluctantly agrees to return and he is subsequently paired up with a young pilot-in-training named Mako Mori (the wonderful Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi), who also happens to have a tortured past. I won't delve into the characters pasts as I don't want to ruin anyone's thrill of discovery. Needless to say though that most of the main players are fully fleshed out and given a story that audience members can have a rooting interest in.

Since there are only 4 Jaegers left in the world, they devise a plan that involves plugging up the portal where the Kaijus are emerging from, and in order to do this they enlist the aid of a pair of geeky scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. They are mostly the comic relief of the picture. There's also a fun small role for Ron Perlman as a black market dealer of Kaiju body parts. Hellboy fans are sure to get a kick out of his part here. 

Anyways, the second half of the picture treats us to one enormous battle after another as we witness 250 foot tall robots going toe to toe with and pummeling the heck out of gigantic monsters on a scale that we have never seen before. It's pretty amazing stuff. I loved the fact that each creature we see looked different and had its own characteristics and abilities. It wasn't just the same looking monster over and over again. The same goes for the robots as well. Each one is designed completely different and I can only imagine that little boys will be lining up to buy the action figures of each and every one of these bad boys. If I had one gripe about the film though, it's that too many of the scenes are filmed at night and in the water, and with the 3D glasses already dimming the screen somewhat, it would have been better and even more visually stunning to see more daytime battle sequences and carnage. If there is a sequel, I hope that Guillermo del Toro brightens it up and shoots more daytime scenes.

I have to admit that growing up as a child, I was never really the biggest fan of Godzilla and the Japanese "creature feature" films because I found them to be super cheesy and they mostly consisted of scientists standing around and discussing what to do about the monsters, which I found kind of boring. Well, I can assure you that nothing about Pacific Rim is ever boring. If you are any type of fan of action or science fiction films at all then I implore you to check out this movie. It is a rousing thrill ride of a picture that goes out of its way to entertain and astound you at every turn. Please take your kids to this as well. They are going to go absolutely nuts for it, much in the same way I suspect that they marveled at movies like E.T., Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. 

In an age where people seem to be clamouring for original concepts and stories not based on previously published material, Guillermo del Toro has once again proven that it can in fact be accomplished with some creativity and boundless imagination. Pacific Rim is spectacular summer entertainment at its finest.

What are you waiting for? Go see it!

I give Pacific Rim a 9 out of 10.


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About the Author

Just to give you a little background on my qualifications, I've been a film buff my whole life and I enjoy all different genres.

I especially have a passion for classic cinema.

I spent most of the past 17 years working for Rogers Video, so not only have I seen an immense amount of movies, but I've recommended many films to people over the years.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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