Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Photo: Warner Bros / Legendary Pictures

Do yourself a favour and catch Pacific Rim in the theatres.

That’s it.

That’s my review.

I had previously assumed it was common knowledge that Grown Ups 2 belongs to the scum bucket. I thought everyone would be as excited about Pacific Rim as I am. But I’ve made a huge mistake. In a world that collectively complains about remakes and sequels, it is really disheartening to see so little support for this original, huge production. Do you want to see a world collapse under the pressure of banality? Huh! Do you?!

Review

All right, so this is my review. As you can probably tell, I love Pacific Rim. Very much. After all, there is a primal instinct of love towards giant robots and monsters to be gladly obeyed. There is also much inspired awe, thanks to one of the most daring big-budget productions in ages.

Hollywood has never embraced the mecha genre quite as much as Asia does. In America, giant monsters seem destined to remain in the dust-ridden seams of Syfy/Asylum territory. Without an established fan base, this original property has to start off from zero and convince a large pool of audience who snub monster movies at first glance.

But here’s why you shouldn’t.

Pacific Rim

Photo: Warner Bros / Legendary Pictures

The production design is a complete marvel. 

Pacific Rim is a film made by a fan, for the fans. Director Guillermo del Toro understands the genre and with the help of a brilliant crew, dazzle with their unique Terabithia in the alternate universe of Jaegers and Kaijus. It isn’t just the vivid colours, or the sheer scale. Each mech suit and monster stood out with its distinctive designs, complete with meticulous detail.

While the production owes much to its Japanese influences, there remains a clear emphasis on creative spirit in the conception of the characters. The expansive mythology will have fans prying every corner of the Internet for every trivial specification of each Jaeger.

Pacific Rim

Photo: Warner Bros / Legendary Pictures

Pacific Rim remains human, even in its mechanical environment.

The large team of Jaeger riders branches out into several excellent story arcs. One of which is that of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a woman as formidable and capable to lead as the men in a military setting.

I was very careful how I built the movie. One of the other things I decided was that I wanted a female lead who has the equal force as the male leads. She’s not going to be a sex kitten, she’s not going to come out in cut-off shorts and a tank top, and it’s going to be a real earnestly drawn character.

That isn’t new, of course. We have had Ellen Ripleys and Natasha Romanoffs now and then. But today, representation remains a huge problem with that of women in films at its lowest in five years, and it is always welcome to see heroines like these.

Speaking of which, Pacific Rim is the rare film that tries to be respectful of both racial diversity and gender representation. International casting was not employed simply to enter the Asian film market (I’m looking at you, Iron Man 3 and Resident Evil: Retribution). Not written as a love interest or one in distress, Mako Mori is part of a solid, well-developed arc that continually drives the mission forward.

Equality is however, still an attempt rather than a reality. What a shame that there weren’t more leading women in the entourage. Neither did we get to see much of the other Jaeger riders like the Wei Tang brothers.

Pacific Rim

Photo: Warner Bros / Legendary Pictures

Still, it was excellent watching Idris Elba steal the show as Mako’s mentor and father figure Stacker Pentecost. The actor of Luther fame commands the screen with the restrained empathy and fearlessness of a great leader. Entrusted with some of the best lines, the man rightfully gets his Independence Day speech moment. (You know, that speech.) And guess what?

It. Was. Awesome.

A sci-fi movie needs its heroes, but what is one without its science squad?

The impulsive Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) finds a place alongside the contrastingly composed Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), and the duo is just so much fun to watch. Their friendship is laced with comic moments, only to be outdone by the hilarious appearance of Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau.

Before this, I’ve almost forgotten how much fun loud action movies can be. This is one rare action blockbuster that remains engaging and utterly enjoyable throughout the amped-up volume.

Sure, it is not all perfect. There are flaws. The huge set-up of destruction and salvation unfortunately had to be condensed into a mere 130 minutes. The script suffers from some cheesy proclamations of bravado, and as much as we love the characters, some of them are painfully underdeveloped. Much plot was lost when some story arcs had to be relinquished to make time for others.

“We had a Mexican Jaeger with two ex-convicts that got a deal.  They told them that, ‘If you drive a Jaeger one more time, we’ll give you freedom.’  But it was just too many backstories.”

It would have been interesting to see those missing pieces they had in the blueprints, so this makes for one hell of a rare occasion in which I’m screaming for a sequel. Make it happen! Please, watch Pacific Rim. After all, one can’t help but to side with Team Jaeger.

Note: Playing this while reading the review may make the experience better.

So all in all, I love Pacific Rim. A whole lot, as if I can never emphasize it enough. I grow up on giant monster movies and still religiously watch the Power Rangers, so this is actually everything I’ve ever wanted. Thank you, Guillermo del Toro.

Possible side effects include:

  • giddy excitement and a pounding heart,
  • loss of sleep over the science behind neural bridging and a typical Kaiju’s diet,
  • unexplained bond with strangers who liked the movie,
  • disappearance of friends who disliked the movie.

If you haven’t gotten a ticket to Pacific Rim, do it now. Once. Maybe thrice. Then thank Guillermo del Toro and look forward to the sequel, which is obviously going to be epic.

6 thoughts on “Review: Pacific Rim

  1. Pingback: Review: Godzilla | The Ü

  2. Pingback: 10 favourite films in 2013. | Ü: The blog of Jade.

  3. “There is a primal instinct of love towards giant robots and monsters to be gladly obeyed.”

    Brilliantly said. As someone addicted to Transformers since the age of 11, I’ll be on board for this one.

    Like

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