Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Genre: Crash bang wallop action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Expensive Power Rangers
Plot? Well, giant monstrous creatures known as Kaiju start rising from some kind of space portal in the Pacific Ocean (no, me neither) and decimating cities, killing millions. So, what should we do about it? Well design humongous robots piloted by two humans that share something called a neural bridge whose actions mimic each other, and simultaneously control the physical movement of the robot of course! Though at first these robots (known as Jaegers) defeat the Kaiju, the Kaiju keep on returning bigger than ever. With all life on the planet on the brink of extinction, it is up to the sole remaining Kaiju’s, lead by our textbook troubled protagonist Raleigh Becket (Hunnam) to close the portal and defeat the Kaiju once and for all.
The term visionary film maker is banded about far too often for my liking and Guillermo Del Toro seems to be one that has been given that label. Whether you feel that is deserved or not there is definitely more of a Roland Emmerich film all the way through Pacific Rim. So expect clichéd characters, heroic deaths, rousing speeches, clunky dialogue, extremely cheesy plot moments, bonkers science, dodgy accents, glaring plot holes and some serious carnage. In terms of the characters all boxes are ticked as all the usual stereotypes are there: A troubled protagonist with a tragic back story, the underestimated rookie, the hard as nails but slightly troubled army officer, arrogant Australians, crazy Russians, the geeky nerd, the stiff upper lip Englishman and Ron Pearlman.
However, is any of that really relevant? Well not really as Pacific Rim quite simply does not care about any of these things, and nor does it indeed ever pretend to be anything it is not. If you go along with the whole thing and embrace the flaws just like the film does then this is in my view an unashamedly loud and audaciously entertaining romp. Despite the predominantly serious tone there are also laughs to be had, due to all the reasons given in my two previous lists the laughs are predominantly at rather than with but this just adds to the fun.
Del Toro seems to know exactly what he is doing and seems to solely focus on visual spectacle rather than solid storytelling. Story wise it is an apocalypse/disaster blockbuster by numbers (again, see above lists) but in terms of spectacle there is no denying that Pacific Rim delivers. Once ‘plot’ gets out of the way for action set pieces entire cities get written off as giant pieces of monster flesh and huge chunks of metal fly everywhere. The design of the Kaiju’s is very impressive and they are genuinely terrifying, perhaps proving there is a tiny unique Del Toro stamp in there somewhere. However despite the visual spectacle the 3D feels extremely flat and adds literally nothing. 3D or not, it is best to see this on the biggest screen pssible, as there is no doubting everything does look very big and very, very expensive.
Curiously very few actors are playing characters of their own nationality creating a bizarre mixture of accents. However the characters are so outrageously clichéd it is impossible not to find them endearing as you can basically predict their every move and line of dialogue, but that is part of the fun! When characters have names like Raleigh Becket, Stacker Pentecost, Hercules Hansen and Hannibal Chau you know that Tel Toro and fellow screenwriter Travis Beacham are just quite simply having a laugh. Charlie Hunnam (from Newcastle) is a very likeable hero and cuts a good American accent. The scenery chewing however is left to Idris Elba (accent all over the place as usual) as well as a Bill Pullman style rousing speech. The cast are clearly having an absolute blast. In fact when cast, crew, director and writer are obviously having so much fun, how the hell can we not?
As fun as it is, this is a film that is actually quite energy sapping and so definitely not a repeat viewing guilty pleasure like Expendables 2 as a one off it is a blast.
Big, bold and more than a little bonkers; Pacific Rim will not win any prizes for originality and it truly could not care less. Take the same approach as those that made it and you are left with an outrageously entertaining monstrous romp.