Jul 102013

Pacific Rim

For years Earth has fought the Kaiju, giant monsters that come from deep below the ocean and rise up seemingly at random along the Pacific Rim. Millions have been killed, and some of the world’s greatest cities are gone. Review of Pacific Rim after the jump.

To fight the monsters threatening the survival of humanity, monstrous robots called Jaegars were built. The Jaegars are controlled simultaneously by two pilots, whose minds are locked together, as the task is too great for one mind alone. For many years they triumphed, and the World began to feel like a safe place again. However, after some years, the Kaiju began to adapt and fight back, and the Jaegars were no longer effective. The programme to build and develop the machines was cancelled, and what was left was scraped together and assembled at the last Jaegar base in Hong Kong. There, a small but dedicated group, lead by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) take one last stand. They will not let the Kaiju eliminate civilisation. They will rebuild the remaining Jaegar, equip them with the best pilots and they will fight.

I have to admit to being skeptical going in to this film(too many Transformers flashbacks), but I’m happy to say that my fears were completely unfounded. Pacific Rim is smart, funny, exciting, intense and extremely well made. Based on a story by Travis Beacham, and written by Beacham and director Guillermo del Toro, the screenplay has an intelligence often lacking in “blockbuster” films. Characters are interesting  and have depth; time is even taken to establish most of the supporting characters. We are invested in their mission, and despite their arrogance or ignorance, we end up cheering for each and every one of them. There is a humour throughout this film which is witty, fun and important. It’s important because it allows the film not to take itself too seriously, something which is a common flaw in the genre of “world-ending”  films. You get the whole range of emotions with this big screen experience – fear, fun and a feeling of awe.

The awe I felt was at the perfectly choreographed action sequences. There is no shaky cam or quick editing to disguise substandard filmmaking here. You see everything clearly. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable a sci-fi/action film can be, when you can actually see what is going on – and believe me, you want to see. Epic is the only word to describe it. Monsters taller than skyscrapers, walking through the ocean, taking on fantastical creatures in a fight for the survival of mankind. The stakes are high, and the film delivers. While the action is gigantic, the heart of the film is with the individuals fighting for a common goal. People build and operate these robots, and people will rise or fall depending on their success. In the end, nations do not matter  – this is not a “fuck yeah, America”movie, it’s a “fuck yeah, humanity” film.

Idris Elba (who should be the next Bond in my opinion) is perfectly cast as the stoic commanding officer. He leads the fight with heart and gusto. I was greatly amused by Ron Perlman, as the an underground gang boss dealing in Kaiju parts, and Charlie Day as the dorky scientist – they add a much-needed lightness to the dire situation. While I enjoyed Charlie Hunnam as our male hero, I was even more impressed by Rinko Kikuchi,who showed amazing range and more than held her own in the male-dominated film. How refreshing it was to a have such a strong female character, and an Asian one at that. Unfortunately the same praise can’t be said to the two “Australian” Jaegar pilots, played by Robert Kazinsky and Max Martini. The pair, who spoke in an offensively bad, overwrought Australian (?) accents, easily had the worst, most cliché-ridden dialogue in the film. It’s almost as if their characters were an afterthought. A disappointing ball drop, in an extremely strong film.


By Sam McCosh

The Facts

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer(s): Guillermo del Toro & Travis Beacham
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day
Runtime: 131 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: July 11 2013; USA: July 12 2013