It looks like Godzilla vs Transformers. That has been the general public's opinion towards Guillermo del Torro's new apocalyptic monster movie Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim had fan-boys like me in a frenzy for years, but it is now being compared to Emmerich's monster disaster and Bay's stupid robots. How can that be? Guillermo del Torro made a goofy story about a pancake-eating red demon, which was a surprise hit with Hellboy. He delivered us Blade II which is the best installment of the franchise. He also managed to make me sit through and actually enjoy a movie with subtitles in Pan's Labyrinth. Luckily within the first 15 minutes of Pacific Rim I realized that I should always trust my movie instincts.
Pacific Rim pits the whole world against giant inter-dimensional monsters, or "Kaiju" as they are referred to. The audience is thrown right into the monster mash in a very entertaining prologue that tells the story of mankind's defeat and triumph over the Kaiju. In true B-movie fashion, humans create giant robots called Jaegers to fight the beasts. The Jaegers are controlled by two pilots who create a neural bridge called the "Drift" that allows each pilot to control a side of the robotic fighters. The Jaegers are winning the battles, but life finds a way to adapt and the Kaiju evolve new weapons, size and strength to send the human race right into extinction.
Pacific Rim is a throwback monster B-movie from the 1950s, made with today's state of the art technology. Guillermo del Torro doesn't take the Cloverfield approach that only gives you glimpses of Kaiju. The Kaiju are front and center in all their extraterrestrial blue glowing glory. The audience is able to see the Kaiju tear apart cities and Jeagers with their claws within the first 5 minutes and the action never lets up. The audience is treated to numerous monster brawls including a showdown with multiple Jaegers and Kaiju in Hong Kong which is a highlight of Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Torro knows that even though some of the story may be simple, the crowd loves a good throw down for entertainment and Pacific Rim has plenty.
Now if you are heading into Pacific Rim looking for a deep thought-provoking film, you will not find it here. That doesn't mean outside the monster fights there's nothing of value. Charlie Hunnam plays Raliegh, a pilot still hurting mentally from mistakes he made in battle. Hunnam does well playing the stoic, but reluctant hero in his first leading role on-screen. The always reliable Idris Elba does a fine job playing the Marshall who leads the Jeager program and who may have a few secrets of his own. Look out for scene-stealers Charlie Day, a scientist obsessed with the Kaiju, and del Torro's favorite Ron Pearlman who plays a shady character the team must align with. The actors all play the human roles to the best of their abilities, but we all know the real stars of Pacific Rim are the Jeagers and the Kaijus.
Pacific Rim never hides from what it is. A B-movie with a $180 million dollar budget captained by a director with a love of monsters. The science of Pacific Rim is cool, but simple. Pacific Rim relies on the audience to assume what the futuristic technology is doing and then immediately allows you to take off your thinking cap and watch a giant robot shove a sword right down a sea monster's gullet. I'm sure some critics will have a problem with Pacific Rim, but not me. I'm not looking for The Shawshank Redemption in a film like Pacific Rim. I want two big monstrosities destroying a whole lot of beach front property. My advice is take the Fast & Furious 6 approach. Turn your brain to half speed and go have a blockbuster of a good time at Pacific Rim. Overall, I give Pacific Rim 3 out of 4 potatoes.
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