Review: PACIFIC RIM

Hold on, we’re going in.

Gypsy Danger

First up: here’s my [expletive free] first reaction:

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.

kaiju

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.

The Good:

  • 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 Bad:

  • 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.

 

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9 thoughts on “Review: PACIFIC RIM”

  1. Fine, I’ll go see it! But I will hold u wholly responsible 😉x

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    James Whatley Reply:

    Seriously Scoobs, it’s so awesome.

    Please see it at the IMAX. PLEASE.

    x

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  2. Just after the battle for Hong Kong I spontaneously pumped both hands into the air, I was so excited! It was like being an 11 year old kid again. There are moments in this movie that are just so perfect.

    Great review James. ^_^

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  3. Haha, my brother and I just read your post after the movie…’WHAT?! WE HAD THAT THE WHOLE TIME?!”…brilliant 🙂

    Personally. I thought it was good fun, but my eyeballs are getting a little tired of close-up fighting scenes. This habit directors have of zooming into an epic fight scene so your brain tries to comprehend 1000 actions p/sec, gives up and just assumes it has to be epic because you can’t compute it all.

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  4. I missed this in the UK – because I’m currently in the realms of Canada – but went for it earlier this week in IMAX, in 3D, in all those crazy big ways people told me to and – Oh Such Giant Beauty!

    Sure, there’s the predictable nature of scripting and I kept thinking Independence Day voice-man – from that lead chap – but ridiculous fun.

    I also felt the same about Fast & Furious 6. I’d never seen any before it. I don’t really have a ‘think’ about cars but I cheered on a number of occasions. That’s the best popcorn films.

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  5. Within the opening 15 or so minutes Charlie Hunnam’s voice-over establishes the reality of a future where monsters (the Kaiju) repeatedly invade earth, to stem this humans have created giant robots (Jaegers) to combat them in increasingly badass iterations. This opening does a great job in conveying the scope of a film which is big, not just regular big, but like, Jason Biggs in 1999 bigg. entering the cinema from a world where these events rarely occur is initially a lot to throw at the audience, but it’s handled so effectively and without tongue in cheek that it quickly becomes a world I had a blast experiencing. Maybe it was the incredible effects shots of robot related destruction used as a throwaway shots, but what I think really sold the opening sequence and the film as a whole is the enthusiasm Del Toro clearly has for the story he’s telling.

    The cast is essentially a rogues gallery of TV’s better dramas playing variations on roles they’ve nailed in the past (see: Elba, Hunnam and Klattenhoff) and some inspired casting of It’s Always Sunny’s Charlie Day who, as should be expected provides some effective comedic relief. Added onto this the score comes courtesy of Ramin Djawadi who’s masterful use of themes on Game of Thrones is carried over to this film for some great emotional cues and many a rad motif courtesy of Tom Morello on guitar.

    It’s appropriate Del Toro has a Frankenstein adaptation lined up as a follow up project as Pacific Rim can at times can feel stitched together from all the sources of inspiration the film has. This comes from many areas such as Japanese manga, the personalities of the actors from previous films and the imagery of robots destroying buildings which transformers ran into the ground. But Del Toro succeeds time and time again at allowing these disparate elements to fit together believably by way of some very confident filmmaking. I could easily take issue with the oft hammy dialogue and macho relationships but where the film succeeds in other areas and revels in creativity trumps the dissatisfaction one could take from these scenes. I also found Hunnams character a tad lacking in charisma and internal conflict but whatever, it’s not the end of the world. Oh wait, yes it is hahahaha…

    The films successes go beyond its imagery and continued invention within battle scenes as the script is very economical when it comes to pacing. The films battle scenes are so engaging and exciting due to clearly established stakes present which left me devoid of the “action fatigue” transformers loves to throw my way. And although the Kaiju battles seem to never be in short supply, the film essentially follows the rule of three when it comes to battle sequences and left me oh so satisfied.

    In conclusion, I give it points for being one of the funner summer blockbusters in recent memory, for being an original property and for its sheer tenacity to exist which all amount to what is just a darn good time at the movies.

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