Pacific Rim is a popcorn flick in every sense of the word. I am a fan of several mecha anime (such as Gundam or Code Geass) and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a big deal when I was young, and this was a love letter to all of that. Pacific Rim may not be for everyone but it was definitely for me.
When Kaijus, giant creatures from a different dimension, emerge from the Pacific Ocean, humanity bands together and creates large mechas, called Jaegers, piloted by two soldiers. Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), along with his brother (Diego Klaggenhoff), pilots the Jaeger named Gypsy Danger. When his brother dies in battle with a Kaiju, Raleigh goes underground. Years later, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) convinces him to return to the fight for one final mission against the Kaiju.
So going into the theater for Pacific Rim, I guess you could say my expectations were pretty high. Awesome special effects, a great director, an original story influenced by different anime, and giant robots fighting giant monsters Power Rangers style had the potential for a truly amazing and visceral experience. Although it stumbled at times, Pacific Rim met these expectations head on.
The special effects in this film were fantastic. I haven’t been this impressed with visuals since Avatar. It was very easy to see where most of the movie’s budget was spent. The Kaiju monsters were hands-down my favorite visuals from the movie, particularly the lambent ones. They looked very organic, maybe even more so than the Na’vi from Avatar, which were impressively well done. You can see every Kaiju skin wrinkle and the skin wasn’t flat, but dynamic. The Jaegers were just as stunning.
This is the second film I have seen this summer that forgoes starting at the beginning of a conflict and instead just jumps directly into the middle of it. And once again, it is used to great effect. By doing this, the story is allowed to move forward. A brief history was given in the beginning, but flashbacks were mainly utilized to fill in the gaps. The early years of the Kaiju War would be really cool to be explored in a prequel film. There is a lot of material there that would be fun to see.
My biggest disappointment with Pacific Rim was that there weren’t as many Kaiju vs. Jaeger fights as I would have liked/expected. That was what I was truly looking forward to the most. And because there weren’t many battles, there wasn’t much focus on other mechas besides Gypsy Danger. I would have liked to see a focus on the Jaegers as a whole, rather than one in particular. The lack of focus on the giant battles leaves more room allocated for characterization. Maybe a prequel, if there ever is one, could delve more into the Jaegers.
Despite the striking visual effects, they also caused problems at times. During several scenes there was rain, almost a requirement for action movies nowadays (you know, for dramatic effect). Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the camera work was wonky, and these two factors combined made it very difficult to see the action.
Pacific Rim delivers on the action. Although there wasn’t as much as expected, when they did happen, they were huge and exciting. And a less action-oriented focus allowed more characterization, leading to some great character moments near the end. The visual effects were really spectacular, and extremely well done. You’d be hard pressed to find a more visually stunning film.
Cast & Crew
Guillermo del Toro – Director / Screenplay
Travis Beacham – Screenplay / Story
Charlie Hunnam – Raleigh Becket
Diego Klattenhoff – Yancy Becket
Idris Elba – Stacker Pentecost
Rinko Kikuchi – Mako Mori
Charlie Day – Dr. Newton Geiszler
Burn Gorman – Gottlieb
Max Martini – Herc Hansen
Rob Kazinsky – Chuck Hansen
Clifton Collins, Jr. – Ops Tendo Choi
Ron Perlman – Hannibal Chau