Do yourself a favour and catch Pacific Rim in the theatres.
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 production. Do you want to see a world collapse under the pressure of banality? Huh! Do you?!
As you can probably tell, I love Pacific Rim. Very much. There is a primal instinct of love towards giant robots and monsters to be gladly obeyed. There is also awe, inspired by one of the most daring big-budget productions in ages.
Hollywood has never embraced the mecha genre quite as much as Asia does, while giant monsters seem destined to remain in the 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.
The production design is a marvel. Guillermo del Toro dazzles with his very own Terabithia in the alternate universe of Jaegers and Kaijus. It isn’t just the sheer scale. Each mech suit and monster stands out with its distinguished designs and meticulous detail.
While the production owes much to its Japanese influences, there remains a clear emphasis on creative spirit in its conception. The expansive mythology will have fans prying every corner of the Internet for every trivial specification of each Jaeger.
Pacific Rim remains humanistic even in its mechanical environment. Its excellent story arcs include that of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a woman as capable to lead as the men in the military setting of the story.
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 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.
The international casting is hence commendable for being respectful of racial diversity and gender representation. Mako’s character is not just there to enter the Asian film market (I’m looking at you, Iron Man 3 and Resident Evil: Retribution), but is part of a well-developed arc that drives the story forward.
She shares some strong, emotional scenes with her father figure Stacker Pentecost, played by the wonderful Idris Elba. The actor of Luther fame commands the screen with the restrained empathy and fearlessness of a great leader.
Rightfully entrusted with some of the best lines, the man even gets his Independence Day speech moment. (You know, that speech.)
A sci-fi movie needs its heroes, but what is one without its science squad? The impulsive Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) is backed by the contrasting composed Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). The duo’s friendship is coupled with comic relief, only outdone by the hilarious appearance of Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau.
In spite of cheesy dialogue and a few underdeveloped characters, one can’t help but to side with Team Jaeger. I’ve forgotten how fun loud action can be. Pacific Rim somehow remains engaging and utterly enjoyable throughout the amped-up volume.
The huge set-up of destruction and salvation unfortunately had to be condensed into a mere 130 minutes. 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 that, 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.
Note: Playing this while reading the review may make the experience better.
So all in all, I love Pacific Rim. A whole lot. 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.