*Insert standard apology for falling off the face of the Earth, blah blah blah* So let’s jump right in, shall we? What Guillermo del Toro did with Pacific Rim is the epitome of what Michael Bay failed to do with Transformers. It is a robot movie that actually is about something other than explosions, and while it is drenched in cliches, it’s still a joy to watch. This movie is a visual feast, and it’s laden with enough comedic relief to deal with the otherwise mundane story line. The supporting cast in this gets a huge upvote from me, but I could be biased because I absolutely love Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) AND Ron Perlman (Hellboy) so while they weren’t there solely for comedic effect, they certainly brought a bit of liveliness to the film. Now, while I said that it is drenched in cliches, it doesn’t take away from how fun this movie really was to watch. Big robots, fun dialog, aliens; I mean, what else could you want from a big summer blockbuster?
Before I begin fawning over Day and Perlman again, let’s hit some of the main cast. Admittedly, I don’t really recognize Charlie Hunnam from anything, so from a fresh read of him, he fits the role well. The character (Raleigh Becket) is the typical rebel soldier that gets suspended or his actions are hindered in some way and then he is called upon at the last minute to save the day. Hunnam’s sarcastic tone and his ability to keep a semi-serious demeanor made him a suitable candidate for the part, and it was a believable choice. Rinko Kikuchi is another one that I hadn’t seen in anything prior, but the choice of her as Becket’s eventual partner, Mako Mori, worked well. She has that hybrid innocent girl/dormant badass warrior look, in this movie at least, that allows the story to transform the character accordingly throughout the story. Of course, Idris Elba was a lock for his part given the substantial leadership/power roles he’s dawned, including Prometheus and Thor, and I can easily say he did not disappoint in his role as Stacker Pentecost, the war vet turned commander who has a soft spot deep down in his heart. Of course, as I mentioned before, the characters, much like the rest of the film, are a bit cliche, but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film. Now, back to Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. My favorite parts of this film were when either of these two actors was on screen, and especially when they shared the spotlight. Charlie Day is always going to be a perfect fit when tasked with playing an eccentric scientist on the fringe of where normal science (for the film’s purposes) and crazy meet. His hyperactive attitude and general energy make Dr. Newton Geiszler easily my favorite character. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, wasn’t quite the ball of energy that Charlie was, but that’s not how he operates. Perlman plays a black market alien organ dealer, Hannibal Chau, and while his screen time is probably not even a fourth of what all the other characters are, he manages to incorporate enough sarcasm into his role to make him memorable in many regards.
As I pointed out earlier, this movie is just filled to the brim with eye candy. Seriously, there’s enough metal on alien action to kill a sizable horse, and that’s perfectly okay. This isn’t a movie you watch to relish the story line; it’s not a movie that has your mind thinking in brand new ways. Ultimately, Pacific Rim is just another summer blockbuster, and luckily for everyone in attendance, with that designation comes a huge budget for graphics and explosions and boats and oceans and tearing down giant cities. The visuals are about as realistic as giant robots and aliens can be.. The thing that, while not the most obvious, impressed me was the detail given to the interior of the Jaeger (those giant robots) heads, as well as the environment that was established regarding the base in which all the Jaegers were stored and repaired. Another merit badge that can be pinned to this movie’s Girl Scout sash is the creativity given to the design of the Kaiju (the aliens). The inspiration from other actual living creatures is noticeable, but that’s because they’ve evolved from them. Or something. Yeah, I’m not entirely clear on that, but they mention it in the movie, and it makes sense, so no worries there. The point is, they’ve effectively turned adorable frogs and menacing sharks into giant super aliens, and it works splendidly.
The plot is where this movie gets into a little bit of trouble. It’s not that the plot necessarily is lacking anything that a good blockbuster has, or is laden with holes, it’s just that the film itself is so cliche in parts, and the dialogue and story fall into that trap with it. This movie is basically any other robot movie you’ve seen coupled with any other alien movie you’ve seen, but the whole ploy to get you to buy a ticket is that this one is devastatingly different because the aliens come from the bottom of the ocean instead of space, and so OOOOHHHHH WATER! Basically, this movie is no different from anything you’ve seen before, but if you can learn to laugh at the cliches, then this will be really entertaining for you. And when I say learn to laugh at the cliches, I mean some of the cliches are so glaring that it’s laughable. There is seriously a part of this movie, meant to be a nice action sequence, that the entire theater laughed through. I actually don’t feel bad about spoiling this little part, because I doubt anyone will be at the edge of their seats hoping the rebel fighter and the lovable Asian with the mysterious past make it out alive. They’re being crushed by one of these Kaiju and their systems are failing. The plasma cannon, or whatever it is, has broken and Becket feels like the only way to win is some scheme that would kill one of them, but Mako Mori calmly says that there is another way. She hits a button that releases a sword from the Jaegers’s arm and as she slices through the Kaiju, she yells (and I’m not even joking) “FOR MY FAMILY!!” So, while I’m not saying this is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it certainly has a way of mixing just the right amount of robots, aliens, racist stereotypes, and general military cliches to make you wish you’d either never seen it, or that it was a comedy in the same vein as Scary Movie (Insert Number) or Epic Superhero Movie or any of those. Luckily, if you can move past all that and just enjoy the movie for all its cliches and action scenes, then you’ve got another fun summer hit.
At a two hour and 11 minute run time, it really didn’t feel that long. Of course, that was after the midway point where I realized I could just laugh my way through the rest of it. Really, this film wasn’t all bad. It’s got lots of robots, aliens, explosions, and for the most part, that’s the sure fire formula for a successful summer blockbuster. Ultimately, this is one of those movies that you catch to get out of the sweltering summer heat rather than purchase to appreciate its artistry later on in your living room. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, then grab a ticket. Also, if you’re looking for a movie to make fun of with your friends that simultaneously makes you feel better about your masculinity by having gratuitous explosions, then this is the movie to watch.
FOR MY FAMILYYYYYY!!!!!!!!