‘Pacific Rim’ Review

Pacific Rim

“Guillermo Del Toro approaches giant robots and monsters with a genuine love for the subject matter, and it shows on the screen.”

I saw Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” yesterday evening, and enjoyed myself immensely.  He seems to understand that, if it’s just about the robots, you might as well make a ‘Transformers’ sequel and call it a day.

Which is why he tries to make it about people as well, which I’ll go into a bit more later.

The film revolves around a rift that opens in the Pacific Ocean.  This rift is a doorway for strange, alien creatures called kaiju, which appear without rhyme or reason and seem to exist exclusively to menace humanity.

Initially, we respond to this threat by creating giant robots, called jaegers (German for ‘hunter’) that are controlled by two pilots (the scheme works by each pilot controlling half of a hemisphere of the giant robot’s “brain”) via “The Drift,” a method for the minds of the pilots to bridge their individuality, and act as one.

As the film begin, we witness the destruction of the American jaeger – the jaeger program is a world effort, so I assume that there are, or were, robots representing nations other than America, Russia, Australia (or was that New Zealand, I am not sure) and China – known as Gipsy Danger.

The jaegar program is abandoned for, pardon the pun, monstrous walls which would surround costal cities, though this doesn’t go well because the kaiju seem to be increasing in strength and ferocity.

What surprised me most about ‘Rim’ was the way that Guillermo Del Toro kept working humor into the film.  Speaking of which, Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”) and Burn Gorman (“Torchwood,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) were extremely welcome as two scientists working on a parallel track to determine when and why the kaiju attacked.

And it wouldn’t be a Del Toro film if Ron Perlman didn’t make an appearance (as a criminal specializing in the selling of kaiju organs).

This movie really took me back.  It was bigger in scope than Del Toro typically tackles, though I enjoyed his twist on the subject matter.  Though as I implied earlier, it’s a monster movie, not a ‘human’ movie.  As a result, characterization wasn’t its strong suit.  In fact, some. like Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) were little more than an accumulation of odd movements and gestures.

Then again, I never watched monster movies for an in-depth portrayal of the human condition, so I could live with that.

Another interesting thing about “Pacific Rim” is that it’s actually worth seeing in 3D. The approach taken to it is similar to that employed in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” which was of a very immersive, natural type.  Things like sparks, metal shavings during explosions, and 3D displays on monitors are the primarily beneficiaries, and it looks great.

I should also give a shout-out to Clifton Collins, Jr.  He’s a great character actor – he turns up in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” reboot, if I recall – and he’s always welcome.

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