Pacific Rim (2013) Review

Prepare yourself, no really, DO IT.

Prepare yourself, no really, DO IT.

Today at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time.  We have chosen to believe in each other!  Today we face the monsters that are at our door, today we are cancelling the apocalypse!

Giant Mechs? Check. Giant Monsters? Check. Failure to blink due to the sheer amount of visceral action on-screen? Check. I sit here finding this review to be the hardest to write. Not because I can’t make my mind up over the movie, but because all I want to do right now is watch Pacific Rim again. I want to feel the rush again. If a movie could ever be classed as a drug, this is it, and I want more.

My most anticipated movie of the year, Pacific Rim is finally here. From instantly falling in love after seeing the first trailer, to being tortured with each trailer released since then, I could hardly contain my excitement as I sat awaiting the movie to start. Not only can you count on Guillermo del Toro to create a fantastic movie, but with a cast just as strong, Pacific Rim was always destined for greatness. Many may argue that it delivers nothing but mindless action and a shallow story, clearly made for children. However, if you want to simply be entertained this summer, then nothing will quite match the level of Pacific Rim.

To combat the giant Kaiju that have emerged from a portal in the sea, a special type of weapon, called Jaegers are created. Controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge, this is mankind’s violent and effective answer to the Kaiju. But even then the Jaegers are proving nearly defenceless in the face of the relentless Kaiju assault. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to their last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Headlining this movie is Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, a Jaeger pilot with a tragic past. For an actor that I’ve not seen much, I was pleasantly surprised with his performance. He delivers on all fronts, being a sympathetic, tragic, but awesome Jaeger pilot. He doesn’t go overboard into the typical action hero role, making for a lead character I liked. Idris Elba plays Stacker Pentecost, a Jaeger pilot from the early days of the war turned commander. Everything he touches is gold, and it’s no different here. Idris Elba is a fantastic actor and thankfully he gets plenty of screen time, with some of the best dialogue in the whole movie. Charlie Day is another personal favourite of mine and here he’s playing Dr.  Newton Geiszler, a scientist with a big interest in the Kaiju and how they work and think. As expected, his character is very much the comic relief of the movie and Charlie Day does what he does best, delivering a laugh in each he occupies.

As for the rest of the cast, Rinko Kikuchi plays Mako Mori, someone with a tragic past and a vengeful hatred towards the Kaiju. She fits in as a great companion to Charlie Hunnam’s character, with a strong relationship being built throughout the course of the movie. Ron Perlman also makes an appearance as the fantastically named Hannibal Chau. I wanted more of his character in the movie, and it’s a shame we don’t get to learn more about him and his past. One slight misfortune about Pacific Rim is the lack character development for the rest of the Jaeger pilots. They’re so interesting but we get little to no information on them, this was definitely needed as the Jaegers started to fall, lessening the impact of their loss.

Guillermo del Toro has some great work behind him, perhaps my favourite being Pan’s Labyrinth. But his work with the Hellboy licence was fantastic and his attempt at a Blade movie with Blade II wasn’t too bad either. Pacific Rim easily exceeds all his past work however. It truly is evident this is was his passion project. Just from watching the movie, you can see that he loved making every single part of it. If the ideas where there, I believe he’d happy making many more Pacific Rim movies in the future.

As far a the story goes, it delivers enough to care for some of the characters, giving reason to their actions and emotions. What it delivers the most, is a great back story, as this movie takes place many years after the first appearance of the Kaiju. The opening to the movie, narrated by lead actor Charlie Hunnam, tells us what has happened in the past, both detailing humanities victories and losses through the first few years of the war against the Kaiju. This is something that is explained and detailed in the graphic novel, Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero (Review Here), it fleshed out the events in the movie much more, I recommend picking it up. As for pacing, despite a 30 minute crawl through the mud after the explosive opening, the rest of the movie is full of eye-popping action and brief, but effective character interaction.

You could argue it’s not hard to mess up a movie were you have giant Mechs fighting giant Monsters. But this is Guillermo del Toro’s vision of that, and that, as you may know due to his expertise on great monster design in past movies, goes a long way. Not only are the fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaiju completing amazing to watch, but they’re extremely impactful, with the sound design and quality of CGI sealing the impression of realism as punches crush bones and metal. The diversity of the Kaiju help too, with fights in water with marine based Kaiju, to fights above cities with flying Kaiju. Same can be said for the Jaegers too, as some specialise in hand-to-hand and others having access to many different weapons, both melee and projectile.

Unfortunately, I felt the highlight of the movie for me, and possibly best fight scene, was at the about halfway through the movie. I say unfortunately because I expected something big at the end, a giant fight with impossible odds and crazy Kaiju. Instead we get some generic Kaiju and a first look at a Category 5 Kaiju. I expected Godzilla himself to pop up from the portal as the first ever Category 5 Kaiju, all we got however was a larger Kaiju we never get a good look at due to the location of the last scene. As for the amazing fight scene mentioned, lets just leave it a boat sword, you’ll know the scene from the trailer, but the fight is simply incredible. As for the 3D in the movie, it may have been converted in post-production, but it was pleasant to watch and they did a great job at implementing it, with debris flying straight at you at a constant basis during battles.

Guillermo del Toro has delivered a movie full of passion, created for that little version of you deep inside. Hopefully talked about for many years to come, this movie has the making of quickly becoming a cult classic amongst movie goers. Up until this point, Man of Steel was the best movie I had seen this year so far. After experiencing Pacific Rim however, the title for ‘Best Film of 2013’ has a new contender. Obviously, I will have to watch both Man of Steel and Pacific Rim a few more times when they’re released on Blu-ray at the end of the year to make a fair decision. Do yourself a favour and go and experience a movie that will no doubt be best experienced in the cinema.

9 Boats used as Swords out of 10