UK Release Date: 12th July 2013
Runtime: 132 minutes
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day
Synopsis: When giant monsters start to attack Earth, humanity creates an equivalent force to fight back. But what happens when that isn’t enough?
Pacific Rim is a film with very interesting heritage. Drawing from Japanese “kaiju” movies, such as the original Godzilla and “mecha” films, it combines two goliaths of cinematic history. More interestingly than that, it chooses to do so in a way that means most of its audience will think they’re just going to see a standard, dumb blockbuster. They aren’t, because Pacific Rim is much better than that.
When huge monsters, known as Kaiju, emerge from the Pacific Ocean and attack major cities, humanity creates giant robots called Jaegers – powered by two human minds “drifting” (working together) – to fight back. Charlie Hunnam is one of the best Jaeger pilots around, commanded by Idris Elba as a tough military leader. As the Kaiju get bigger, other strategies are considered, but the Jaeger initiative keeps going in the background.
Guillermo del Toro – the auteur behind The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth – has pretty much nailed the summer blockbuster here. Instead of succumbing to the temptation of Michael Bay and just blowing a lot of stuff up , like Man of Steel did, Pacific Rim puts its characters front and centre. This is a big, loud action movie that has people at its core. And that counts for everything.
Charlie Hunnam, famed for his TV role in Sons of Anarchy and playing Pete Dunham in Green Street, makes for an engrossing leading man. His slight swagger masks an emotional core that really comes to the forefront in his relationship with Rinko Kikuchi’s character, with whom he is able to share a “drift”.
Idris Elba is also solid as the stoical military leader and the duo of Brit actor Burn Gorman and Charlie Gay as a pair of bickering scientists almost steals the show. Only Ron Perlman’s unnecessary character and some atrocious Australian accents makes a mess of the film’s acting.
Pacific Rim separates itself from the crowd of big, stupid action movies with its tight control of the fight scenes. Guillermo del Toro’s direction is assured in these sequences and they are edited in a way that makes abundantly clear where every single character is. This is something that many action directors completely fail to bother with and, as a result, Pacific Rim’s crazy bursts of action are some of the best committed to screen in a long time.
It sags a bit in the middle and some of the later plot developments are a contrivance too far, but Pacific Rim is certainly one of the better efforts in a relatively lacklustre summer blockbuster season.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.