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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

While this Summer has been so full of disappointing, special-effects driven, Sci-Fi blockbusters (Star Trek Into Darkness) and over-the-top superhero movies (Iron Man 3, Man of Steel), one of the most highly anticipated and original movies of the Summer brings audiences a greatly needed breath of fresh air (or a monstrous roar of excitement!), and that film is PACIFIC RIM! Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) and starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi, Pacific Rim features giant robots versus giant monsters, with epic battles never seen before except in Godzilla movies or anime!
In the near future, giant monsters known as Kaiju appear from a dimensional rift beneath the Pacific Ocean. As they wreak havoc upon the coastal cities of the Earth, the nations of the world come together and build giant fighting machines (mechas) called Jaegers (German; hunter) to defend the human race. Controlled by two pilots simultaneously through a neural link, only a handful of Jaegers and a giant man-made wall are all that stands between the kaijus and total annihilation!
One of the best team of pilots are two brothers: Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) Becket, who pilot the Gipsy Danger. When Yancy is killed during a battle near the Alaskan coast, Raleigh leaves the Jaeger program to help work on constructing the "Wall of Life". Five years later, Raleigh is approached by his former commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) to convince him to return to the Jaeger project, which is in desperate need of pilots. Along with a few highly-trained teams of Jaeger pilots from all over the world and new recruit Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Raleigh must prepare to defend against the oncoming onslaught of kaijus, each more powerful than the last!
Known for his highly imaginative yet dark/supernatural style, this is Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's first venture into the realm of the big-budget, Sci-Fi movie. With big robots and big monsters that defy believability, Pacific Rim brings a whole new level to a genre already popular among fans of Japanese kaiju movies (the Godzilla franchise), or robot vs. kaiju TV shows (Kamen Rider, Ultraman), and anime (Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion). While a large number of American movie goers are fans of the genre, most American audiences haven't seen giant robots on the screen since the B-grade Robot Jox (1989), or giant monsters, for that matter, since the awful remake of Godzilla (1998)! Writing the screenplay with del Toro was Travis Beacham, known for the special-effects nightmare remake of Clash of the Titans (2010). Full of ultra-destruction and violence, Pacific Rim is not without a bit of levity from it's huge international cast. Among these are comedy actor Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), who plays Dr. Newton Geiszler, an eccentric scientist obsessed with kaijus, opposite Burn Gorman as Dr. Gottleib, a stern, British scientist. Put the two of them together and they're like the Laurel & Hardy of kaijus. Also, it wouldn't be a del Toro film without Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau, a flashy-dressed, black-market dealer, specializing in kaiju remains. As a fan of del Toro's films since Blade II and Hellboy, even his co-authored novels The Strain Trilogy, this is a bold, new, step in the right direction from a talented filmmaker who also contributed to new The Hobbit films.
Pacific Rim is in one word: AWESOME! But don't be too quick to dismiss it's over-the-top action, violence and destruction. While many critics have panned it's lack of character development and story, I see that there is plenty character and story for a movie this BIG! The Top Gun-like interaction between Raleigh and Pentecost is intense, as is the relationship with the incredibly sexy, yet vulnerable Mako. Even some of the other less-prominent Jaeger teams are both colorful and memorable. Pacific Rim makes no apologies for what it is, if you go expecting giant robots fighting giant monsters, then you're in for a treat, because that's exactly what your going to get! It is true how much of an onslaught to the senses in special-effects and mega-destruction there is, but that's what it is all about! It doesn't pretend to be anything else. Pacific Rim is a great, entertaining, action-packed Summer blockbuster and it is no doubt the BIGGEST movie this Summer! (Literally...)