Hold on, we’re going in.
First up: here’s my [expletive free] first reaction:
PACIFIC RIM just changed my life.
— James Whatley (@Whatleydude) July 19, 2013
And I’m not kidding. PACIFIC RIM was incredible. Just incredible. It’s everything you could want from a GIANT ROBOTS vs MONSTERS movie and more. Much, much more.
First off, if you only take one thing away from this review make it be this:
SEE PACIFIC RIM AT THE CINEMA. SEE IT BIG. SEE IT LOUD. BUT SEE IT HOW IT IS MEANT TO BE SEEN.
(you can tell your friends I said that too)
Both the Kaiju (the monsters) and the Jaegers (the robots) are huge. Monstrous even. And they have to be seen in IMAX to fully appreciate the magnitude of it all. But the spectacle of it all isn’t the only thing worth investing your time in, oh no. The story is actually fairly awesome, as is the emotional centre that sits within, underneath all that armour. As much as the trailer(s) would have you believe otherwise, PACIFIC RIM is not 131mins of non-stop gigantic city battles. It really isn’t.
There is humanity and story underneath and that itself is brought to life by a trio of decent leading actors. First, Charlie Hunnum, as our number one guy, Raleigh Becket, holds the film together really well and is not only our way in but also our way through this brave new world that we live in; supporting him we have the bloody fantastic Idris Elba (as Jaeger veteran Stacker Pentecost) and Rinko Kikuchi (as mystic Jaeger research assistant, Mako Mori). All three are great independently, but par excellence when thrown together – and it’s fortunate that that happens often.
The supporting characters are slightly one dimensional and, in places, seemingly only around for light relief. However each has a bearing on the story in some respect (again – I mention story – there is a lot of it here, and some smarts behind the Why? too) and each is given their time to shine… just.
- ALL OF THE GIANT THINGS (I may have mentioned this already)
- The lead characters are, as mentioned, all really well fleshed out.
- The title sequence: when it hits, it blows you away how much prologue you’ve just been given.
- The CGI is second to none; you will believe these robot,s and these monsters, exist.
- On a related note: this isn’t Transformers. The fight scenes are clear, there are rarely any cutaways and basically, you get to see EVERYTHING.
- The story might be pretty good but the script, in places, is shockingly bad. If you’ve seen any of the trailers then you know that CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE is possibly the singular most ridiculous line you’ve heard all year (well, outside of ‘UNLEASH THE WORLD ENGINE’ anyway). While they are few and far between, there are some humdingers in there and they CLUNK when they hit.
- I mentioned one-dimensional characters earlier, there are a few – given the effort that goes into making so much of this world believable (especially the monster-ravaged China Town), it’s frustrating to experience so many unbelievable characters – and the acting isn’t super either.
- There’s a bit, that I can’t talk about because it’s a bit spoilery, but when it happens you will, like me, scream at the screen: ‘WHAT?! WE HAD THAT THE WHOLE TIME?!’ – you wait, you’ll see.
The good news is, the bad is so far out-weighed by the awesome you can forgive PACIFIC RIM its shortcomings. It is an astonishing film and it is, without doubt, the best giant robots vs monsters film you will have ever seen.
I’m going to close off with something I read recently over by Tyler Cowen (on a blog post about how China is reshaping Hollywood):
You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.
In a summer of mega-superheroes and leading men who always get the girl, PACIFIC RIM is a respectful giant of a movie, that stands up not only against the blockbusters of its ilk, but also against the better natures of some of the more lower budget efforts floating around too.