I saw Pacific Rim last night. I enjoyed it. The most honest thing I can say about it is this:
It was everything I hoped it would be, and nothing more.
Director Guillermo del Toro has given something very special to a certain segment of the population. When I saw the very first trailer for this film I said “This is a movie, tailor made, for nerds” (seriously, ask my friends, I said it). Well Mr. del Toro, you did not disappoint.
The movie starts out with a premise (I don’t consider this a spoiler, as it was in every promo every released): There is a portal from another dimension deep in the Pacific ocean, and giant monsters (Kaiju) emerge periodically from said portal and attack costal cities. In response to this, humanity bands together and builds an army of giant robots (Jaegers), each piloted by a team of two pilots, to do battle and beat the living snot out of these invaders. How badass is that! That is where the film starts, and that’s where things get interesting (wait, giant robots vs giant monsters wasn’t interesting?).
The points I enjoyed about this picture are as follows, in no particular order:
The visuals are utterly spectacular! The design of the Jaegers and Kaiju are creative, diverse, and extremely detailed. The choreography of the battles are intense and dynamic. And Guillermo has bumped up his over saturation of color, contrast, and atmosphere to the next level. All of which makes for some incredibly beautiful visuals.
Actors Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), and Clifton Collins Jr. (Tendo Choi) are wonderful. Even Charlie Day (Dr. Newton Geiszler aka “Newt”) and Burn Gorman (Gottlieb) did a good job of adding some levity. With a special nod to Mr. Elba, they give a level of gravitas to an otherwise mediocre cast.
I was pleasantly surprised at how lighthearted this movie was. It starts off with an intense gravely voiced monologue, but even this is almost a parody. As dark and foreboding as the premise is, they never forget that this is giant robots beating up giant monsters, and it should be fun!
Lastly (I know there’s only four things on this list, but this last one is huge) I loved all of the “nerd culture” references. The film is basically a celebration of all things geeky, and not just popular nerd culture either, peppered throughout are (both subtle and not so subtle) nods to obscure scifi, fantasy, video games, and anime. So thank you Guillermo del Toro, for reminding me why I love his genre so very much.
As enjoyable as Pacific Rim was, there are some things that I felt were lacking:
As I said before, other than a few standouts, the cast was a bit underwhelming. They all did decent jobs, but could have been better.
There was a distinct lack of character development. In the first 10 minutes the main character experiences a dramatic change in his motivation, but other than that, everyone pretty much stays the same.
In the same line, as much as I loved all the references, there were definitely some plot holes. There are many events, actions, and concepts that go completely unexplained. It’s not a huge issue, but this is definitely one of my pet peeves in movies.
So, taking all of this into account, I personally felt that the positives greatly outweighed the negatives. But that is an absolutely subjective thing. If you are interested in a fun, colorful, not too heavy handed “end of the world” flick, definitely give this a shot. If you’re looking for a well made, thoughtful, and serious giant robot vs. monsters movie… good luck with that.