Pacific Rim Movie Film Review

Does Guillermo Del Toro’s version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Power Rangers pack a punch? Find out what I think.

By Chongchen Saelee

There’s something about giant robots going “boom” that’s really appealing. Even the abominations that are the Michael Bay Transformers films get a lot of slack, otherwise, why would those make so much money? However, Del Toro is more of a talented filmmaker, a real filmmaker. I can voucher for his skill because I’ve seen “The Devil’s Backbone”, “Hellboy”, “Hellboy 2”, “Blade 2”, and “Pan’s Labyrinth”. I think I have a good feel of his filmmaking style.

Don’t get me wrong, everything about Pacific Rim is utterly predictable, and if not predictable, has been done before. Del Toro does these cliches not in a gimmicky way, it’s more of an homage to the cliches. And if anyone didn’t pick up on it, this is his loveletter to those old Japanese kaiju films. And it shows.

The acting is top-notch, or to be more fair, the performances were appropriately perfect. Charlie Hunnam is straight out of a comic book or anime. Were James Marsden not cast as Cyclops for the X-Men films, this guy is perfect for those “boy scout” typecasts. There’s a scene when he’s struttin’ like a cocky cowboy. I mean, c’mon.

Rinko Kikuchi really didn’t feel like she needed to be there. She’s just cast to give the movie a sense of exoticness and a throw-away love interest for “main white guy”. Otherwise, it could have very well been her in the lead role since there was so much focus on her motive for becoming a jaeger ranger. Wait til you see that little girl in terror and not tear up.

Most amazing performance, imo, comes from Idris Elba. You see this guy in all sorts of movies and he has a commanding presence. It’s as though with years and years of trying to make A-List black actors Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson, or Forrest Whitaker into bad-ass leader typecasts, Hollywood has finally found the most epic scale player in Idris Elba.

There have been some complaints in online reviews prior to mine saying that the comic relief from the goofball scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman was exaggerated, but I think they fit right in. Since when wasn’t any Del Toro movie without its whimsical characters? The dude that Blade sticks in the forehead at the end of Blade 2 makes a cameo. Heck, even Ron Perlman makes a stand-out cameo. (But, dammit, I didn’t stick around for the after credits! Spoiler alert: Perlman’s character is eaten by a baby kaiju. Apparently, he cuts his way out in the end credits. Man, I missed that! I saw it online though and it is funny.)

Visual effects are awesome. Scale and cinematography really sells it. There are times when the jaegers and kaijus are duking it out and they can’t even fit the frame. All you see are elbows and armpits and ocean waves. Some might complain about shaky cam, but it wouldn’t be believable otherwise. At least, that’s my opinion. The viewer does not have a god’s eye view of things, otherwise the viewer is god and didn’t need to see this movie. Feel me?

Personal aside: my favorite jaeger was the Australian one, looking like Briarios from Appleseed. WETA, a visual fx house in Australia, designed it, so there you go. But I’m sure they okayed it all around for political correctness. Ironically, using the German word for “hunter” to represent the human’s fighting robots is overlooked as there were no “Germans” in this film. Makes you wonder were all that gung-ho military war culture comes from, no?

This is a film meant to be watched on the big screen. It is HUGE! It needs to be watched on a huge screen.

This movie is all about fightin’ robots and sparkly dragons that shoot blue goo acid. If you don’t enjoy that spectacle, it might become dull, because I’d say 2/3 of the movie is hard fighting. But it never felt tiring. Not like Man of Steel. There’s a real urgency to it. It is, afterall, the end of days for humans, so if these jaegers are destroyed, it’s over. And it really is over because there are no backup jaegers. It’s only those 5, and they all get destroyed by the end of the movie.

Strangely enough, when they actually do “close” the portal which the kaiju are entering our world from, it didn’t feel like much. It just seemed too convenient, or too easy, even though there was so much loss. But, of course, predictably, these rag-tag group of humans save the day.

Doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s an amazing, “perfect”, summer popcorn flick. This is why you watch movies.

8.5 out of 10

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2 Responses to “Pacific Rim Movie Film Review”

  1. Dan O. says:

    At least I had a good time, rather than being bored out of my mind completely. Nice review Chongchen.