Pacific Rim

Posted: July 15, 2013 in Movie Reviews

In Guillermo del Toro's newest summer flick, human controlled robots do battle against monsters from another dimension.

In Guillermo del Toro’s newest summer flick, human controlled robots do battle against monsters from another dimension.

When you think summer blockbuster, you tend to think big. Summer films such as Transformers  and The Avengers have conditioned us to always look at the larger scale of things—–be it the action, characters, special effects, film quality, and even budget. But in this grand epic from Guillermo del Toro, one thing you come to realize regarding film-making is that nothing is too big or too complex to do on film anymore.

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 Summary: (No spoilers)

Deep in the bowels of the Pacific ocean lies a portal, a gateway to another dimension in which skyscraper-size monsters   —–called the Kaiju—–infiltrate earth, wreaking havoc and wanton death. After several devastating attacks are made on earth’s larger cities, in which tens of thousands of lives are lost and billions of dollars worth of damages are inflicted, humanity retaliates against the massive onslaught by constructing Jaegers—–enormous robots controlled by two human pilots telepathically connected with each other, thinking and fighting as one.

Pilots_Pacific Rim

 But after years of unsuccessful attempts at closing the portal and countless Jaegers destroyed in battle—–resulting in the termination of the Jaeger program—–Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) assembles one final squad, one last ditch effort to end the monster apocalypse. His primary choice to lead the attack is Jaeger veteran Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). But when he is unable to find a compatible co-pilot to meld minds with, Becket turns to Mako Mori, a female trainee who is completely inexperienced but who is physically and psychologically attuned with him. But things begin to look truly dismal as complications arise between them, and the end of the world creeps closer to fruition.

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 Pacific Rim begs the question of how big exactly is too big? The trailer gave me no incentive to see this, showing that it was essentially Transformers  vs. Godzilla. Preferring a bit more originality in the films I pay to go see, I promptly dismissed this film from mind.

 But then word of mouth suggested that there’s more to this film than meets the eye, and so I gave it a shot. And while it’s essentially what I thought it was going to be—–massive CGI robots beating enormous CGI monsters to a pulp—–there was another layer there that caught me completely by surprise.

At the heart of it all, past the pounding and the screaming, is a wonderful human story. It’s why the plot of the film is more than one paragraph long. The Jaeger pilots cannot operate the machine alone, because the mental load is too much for them to individually handle. So the simplest solution is to implement two pilots, one controlling the left side and one controlling the right, completely in tune with each other and fighting as one unit. That right there creates some interesting plot elements you can incorporate into your story.

For instance:

The deeper the bond, the better the mental connection can be established. This is why there is one team comprised of two brothers and one team consisting of a father and son. So imagine the psychological ramifications of losing your team member. What would that do to you? How would you react? How could you ever again meld minds with another human being? All of these issues are addressed in this film.

Pacific Rim generally avoids becoming your clichéd Hollywood big-action blockbuster by creating characters that we actually like and come to care about. There are two scientists, both brilliantly played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, who both hypothesize about the increased Kaiju attacks, as well as the possibility of mentally connecting with the brains of dead Kaiju to better understand the situation. While you at first merely think, “Ok, just your stereotypical, run-of-the-mill nerdy scientists”, you eventually come to like them.

When the Jaegers are doing battle, you never think of them as robots; you instead consider them as machines operated by real people in actual dire situations. Even though the scenario of giant monsters from another dimension rising from the depths of the ocean has never been real, nor will it ever be real, this is one of those “what if” films that revolves around the supposition of what humans would do if something like this ever happened. How would they respond? Well thanks to Guillermo del Toro, we now know.

Gipsy_Pacific Rim

 The CGI and special effects were nothing less than fantastic, showing just how far technology really has come. It’s interesting how much less we now think “it’s just a bunch of CGI” when viewing these types of films. In fact, I smell an academy award nomination for the computer guys over at Warner Bros.

In a nutshell:

Pacific Rim is the epitome of epic. While you occasionally become lost in the megaton action sequences, unlike Transformers  these scenes hardly become convoluted. The film flows at an easy pace and the story never becomes jaded by unnecessary plot. This was a well-handled film that deserves a buy on Blu-ray.

 

8 stars

 

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