Pacific Rim Review

“Today at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time.  We have chosen to believe in each other!  Today we face the monsters that are at our door, today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

-Stacker Pentecost

In 2007 mainstream audiences were given their first major exposure to the nerdtastic concept of giant fighting robots in “Transformers”. “Transformers” was a huge hit and became the highest grossing non-sequel of all time. With Transformers quickly becoming one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood, geek icon Guillermo del Toro stepped in to make a movie taken straight from his childhood love of monster movies, mechs, and anime. Does Pacific Rim deliver something unique and memorable, or is it doomed to live in the shadow of the undeniably dumb Transformers trilogy?


“Pacific Rim” begins in the not so distant future in the middle of an ongoing war between humans and an alien race that emerged from a Pacific trench. The aliens, nicknamed the “kaiju”, are so massive that traditional tactics by the military were rendered useless. To fight the kaiju, the humans built impressively gigantic robots named “jaegers”. The jaegers, piloted by two humans, have proven to be the most effective weapon earth has developed. The movie picks up near the end of this war by following weathered jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who left the military after a costly defeat earlier in his career. Beckett is called back into action by commander Stacker Pentecost(Idris Elba) who is using the last of his resources to make one final stand against the overwhelming kaiju forces. Beckett finds a new partner named Mako(Rinko Kikuchi) and prepares to fight the kaiju like he has nothing to live for.

Pacific Rim’s story may sound unbelievably silly, but fans of anime will immediately recognize the all too familiar story being told. It’s an outlandish story filled with cheesy explanations, awkward plotting, and characters so stereotypical it’s laughable. At first glance these are all glaring issues that have wrecked many of the most anticipated summer blockbusters, but “Pacific Rim” is different because it navigates all of the absurdity by turning it into an advantage. The film has laughably bad dialog mixed with really hammy delivery by nearly every member of the cast. This level of cheese ball writing actually makes much of the over-long exposition a real joy to watch. Much like some of the most enjoyable Saturday morning cartoons, “Pacific Rim” is very self-aware and willing to drum up the quirkiness of its premise which really sets it apart from even the smartest summer blockbusters.

The film has a really enjoyable cast with two of the strongest characters being the “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” star Charlie Day who plays this film’s raving mad scientist Newton Geiszler and Ron Perlman who has a the small role of a black market salesman named Hannibal Chau. Day isn’t your typical crazy because he’s off the wall funny and charismatic despite wanting to try some truly questionable and detestable experiments. Even with all the highly entertaining robot on monster action going on, I couldn’t help but want to see what Newton was going to do next in his equally enjoyable subplot. Ron Perlman continues to be the most memorable part of Del Toro’s films with Chau’s eccentric and over the top turn as the shady kaiju poacher. Even in this film’s small role, Perlman chews the scenery and steals each of the scenes he is in making for some of the most laughable and memorable scenes of the film.

Sadly the cast’s only major weak link is the film’s most crucial character, Raleigh Becket. Despite the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, it does manage to give you enough development with several of these characters for you to care about their end in the story. This couldn’t be further from the truth for the supposed anchor of the film. Beckett’s character isn’t poorly written nor is Charlie Hunnam’s performance particularly bad, but he simply lacks any quality that makes him worth caring about. Becket is the film’s supposed emotional anchor, but he’s not written strongly enough in any direction to define exactly what it is about him that is likable. While it doesn’t ruin the movie, it does keep the film from living up to its fullest potential of becoming the pinnacle of summer blockbuster entertainment.

Shortcomings aside, “Pacific Rim” delivers on its promise of city leveling battles in spades! There are three or four major battles in the movie total and each one of them differs from the one before it. The action is clean, dynamic, highly stylized, and unlike anything else we have ever seen on the big screen before. The battles are huge, not just in scope, but also in excitement. The movie had me on the edge of my seat cheering for either side to throw a bigger punch than the one that had come before. The fights in the movie deliver the energy of the most intense fights in the MMA with the size of a Godzilla movie. By the time the movie had ended, I was convinced that I had just seen the most electrifying movie of the year.

Guillermo del Toro has proven yet again that he understands what makes even the the most simplistic of stories tick. In the past he’s delivered on comic book adaptions, fantasy films, and even dark character dramas. With “Pacific Rim”, he’s tapping into the most memorable parts of every teenage boy’s favorite cartoon and turning it into something new and spectacular. Del Toro’s love for anime is undeniably all over this film with even the smallest of details coming to the surface of this basic yet intricately designed world. It could have been very easy for this film to ignore the details such as this world’s history just to focus on the spectacle of giant robots. Del Toro instead went the extra mile to give this world a layer of depth and believability even in its absurd nature that drives the escapist nature that this movie needed to have to be something special. There is an evident passion Del Toro shows in this movie that is very rarely seen in big budget studio movies like “Pacific Rim”.

“Pacific Rim” is a one of a kind summer blockbuster that delivers on spectacular fights, a carefully developed world, and some of the enjoyably cheesy bits of dialog on the big screen since “Independence Day”. The movie has a weak lead character and could probably chop about twenty minutes off of its runtime, but is otherwise an absolutely unforgettable movie that gives us the most entertaining movie to hit the theaters this summer. If you’re a fan of anime or Saturday morning cartoons then you owe it to yourself as a human being to watch “Pacific Rim”. It is undoubtedly the most passion driven tribute to the genre that will ever hit the big screen. If that’s normally not your cup of tea, “Pacific Rim” is still a ton of fun and probably the most unique big budget movie to hit the big screen since 2010’s “Inception”.

If there’s one movie you want to lay all your money on for the IMAX this summer, make it Pacific Rim. It’s an experience you’re sure not to forget for months and possibly years to come.

Pacific Rim 2

Story: 8.0

The story is ripped straight from Mech anime like “Mobile Suit Gundum” and “Evangelion”, but also breaths some very creative energy to give it a spin. The story may be simplistic, but the work and passion that went into the world building gives this movie a depth and life it otherwise would have been missing.

Characters/Acting: 7.0

Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, and Charlie Day all deliver some really great performances that play into the inherent silliness and absurdity of the world Pacific Rim exists in. These hammy performances make the movie really enjoyable and actually give the movie more of an anime feel than it already had. Unfortunately the lead character fails to leave any real impression which failed to give me the connection I needed to be completely lost in the world of Pacific Rim

Presentation: 9.5

It doesn’t get much better than this folks. Guillermo Del Toro delivers a gorgeous movie that never misses a beat on the visuals. He also goes the extra mile to develop a story in a world that is rich and full of other potential stories. Few directors are able to determine what makes a story work like Del Toro which is on full display here.

Overall Effectiveness of the Movie: 9.0

Even with its shortcomings, I was nearly lost in this highly entertaining and one of a kind blockbuster that delivered on epic fights, impressive storytelling, and incredible visuals.

Overall Score: 9.0


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