Guillermo Del Toro's epic homage to the Japanese 'Kaiĵu' movies, produced on a bigger budget than all such giant monster movies of the last fifty years combined. Del Toro obviously has a great love and respect for the genre, resulting in a very catchy action flick, undoubtedly the best American counterpart to its Japanese predecessors. One might almost say Hollywood has redeemed itself for the 1998 version of Godzilla, but such a statement had better be held back for another year, until the next American reboot of Godzilla hits theatres in 2014. In the meantime, Pacific Rim works well as an appetizer to the big G's resurrection. An extra-dimensional rift opens on the bottom of the Pacific and huge beasts come pouring out, wreaking havoc on mankind as they lay waste to cities and obliterate our armed forces. Humanity quickly sets aside its internal differences and joins forces in creating big robots to fight the creatures on their own terms. Piloted by a pair of human Avatars, these so-called 'Jaëgers' effectively combat the beasts, but the life of a Jaëger pilot as Del Toro reveals is filled with personal loss. When the monsters emerge ever more rapidly from the Breach, as it is named, Jaëger command develops an intricate and dangerous plan to halt the Kaiĵu threat once and for all. Del Toro briefly explores the history of the first Kaiĵu assaults and the development of their robotic antagonists and afterwards spends more time getting us invested in the human characters than is usual for this type of film. It does make the movie feel like its dragging its feet for a while, until he unleashes the action the audience craves with a vengeance, resulting in over an hour of nigh endless monster bashing. Unfortunately he cannot help but inserting a few characters that are supposed to deliver some much needed comic relief to make sure we don't take it all too seriously, but sadly these characters – stereotypical geeky scientists as ever we've seen them – are so mind-boggingly annoying (Charlie Day particularly) they make you wish for a Kaiĵu to step on them to end their endless whining. Del Toro's talents are better suited in delving deeper into a world where Kaiĵus are not only a threat to world peace but also big business: toy companies produce action figures of them, creepy cults worship them and in Hong Kong, a 'Bone Town' is established, a black market for Kaiĵu products for shady purposes, similar to the disgusting existing South-East Asian trade in animal parts. Run by Ron Perlman (always a joy when paired with Del Toro), some of the funniest, wittiest and anatomically most unsettling scenes take place here. Though the dealings and the history of the Jaëgers are fleshed out to the fullest, their enormous alien adversaries, ever the most important ingredient in a Kaiĵu film, do remain somewhat underexposed by comparison. Unfortunately their motivations – they're really foot soldiers out to cause as much damage to mankind as possible, in order to pave the way for an invasion from their (smaller) intelligent overlords – remind us of the recent Shyamalan flop After Earth, a movie we'd rather forget entirely. Usually, Kaiĵu are more antiheroes than full-out villains, but Del Toro opts to keep them a simple threat to be wiped out instead of imbuing them with a more sympathetic character like their forebears Gojira, Gorgo and Rodan, who were always the victim of human (nuclear) folly, transforming them into avenging gods to remind us of our place in the world. The movie is dedicated to Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda, two people who only too well understood the need to layer their creatures and make them charm you so you feel more for them, but in this instance, Del Toro decided not to go with such wisdom. As a result, Pacific Rim at best is a highly likable action flick, but not necessarily an apt lesson for western audiences into the true nature of the Kaiĵu genre. Then again, there's only so much you can do with the notion of giant robots bashing giant monsters. Let's say Guillermo gets as much out of that premise as we could hope for.
Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
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April 13, 2019