When a dimensional rift opens up under the Pacific Ocean, mankind is beset by huge and destructive creatures, dubbed Kaiju. Suffering devastating losses, mankind creates giant fighting machines, robots called Jaegers, in order to fight back, and save humanity. As mankind is pushed to the brink of extinction, it is up to the surviving vestiges of civilization to repel the alien threat and save our species and world.
Having been a giant monster fan for much of my young life, I went into Pacific Rim with a lot of anticipation, indeed, it is my most anticipated movie of the year. The talented director Guillermo Del Toro, who made one of my favorite films of all time, Pan’s Labyrinth, helms this love song to anime, scifi, and Tsurubaya. But does the film stand tall? Or does it crumble like so many buildings under the heel of Godzilla?
Let’s just get this out of the way, plotwise this movie doesn’t really offer anything new. Backed up against a corner, mankind fights back. It is all very familiar, especially if you have experience with the kaiju and anime series from which Pacific Rim draws inspiration. It is cliche and well traveled and you can almost set your watch on the beats of the film.
What the film does offer is wish fulfillment in spades. That is if you ever wished to see massively awesome robots fight giant monsters. There is a lightheartedness to the proceedings that has been sorely missed from summer blockbuster offerings of recent years. Things have been too dark and gritty lately, often in misguided attempts to provide ‘realism’ when what many go to the movies for is escapism. Pacific Rim taps into a certain vein of grand and epic entertainment. Going at a good clip, the film is very quickly paced, never letting things get to sentimental or sappy. Though some character backstory is provided, the characters themselves never dwell too hard on it and we shouldn’t either. What we’re given is just enough and the result is heroes we can root for and get behind.
The action on display is shot in such a way so as to even more emphasize the sheer scale of the conflict. Already skyscraper sized robots and kaiju seem as mobile mountains of metal and flesh and are just that much more jaw dropping. Power and strength are incredibly well represented here, with the crash of hits and the effects of tons of force visible in the ensuing mayhem and destruction. Indeed, I had a bit of a childhood flashback to my days playing with toys and was elated to see it come to life so wonderfully on screen. Not just the sheer nostalgia, but the action makes you feel involved, like you’re with the Jaeger pilots fighting for your life.
Wonderfully entertaining and brilliantly executed, Pacific rim is one of the must see blockbusters of the year. With a lot of guts and a lot of love, Guillermo Del Toro has crafted an action adventure picture that will have to abuzz with energy and excitement. Certainly worth the price of admission, this opening night viewing definitely won’t be the last time I ‘cancel the apocalypse.’
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Tokyo SOS, Destroy All Monsters, and Ultra Galaxy Battle