Monsters have arrived on Earth; not from the stars, but from an interdimensional rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These behemoths (called Kaiju) wreak havoc on the human race until the humans band together and build skyscraper tall combat robots called Jaegers to fight back. Pacific Rim is the story of the war (it also kind of steals most of its plot from Independence Day…which is not a compliment).
Pacific Rim is Guillermo del Toro’s first film since 2008’s Hellboy II, largely due to the time he spent on The Hobbit before bolting. I was so hoping this was going to finally be the summer movie home run we’ve been awaiting all year, but I can see absolutely nothing of del Toro’s style or elegance in this film. He’s credited as having co-written the script, but I can’t imagine dialogue as bad as that in PacRim could have been his doing. I think he wanted to make a movie about giant robots fighting giant lizards and that’s as deep as it went.
The cast has some great actors in it (Idris Elba), but it’s mostly carried by Charlie Hunan and he’s just not a leading man out of the confines of the ensemble of Sons of Anarchy. Ron Perlman wanders in as a dealer in black market kaiju body parts. There’s also a large role for Charlie Day, which isn’t good news to me, because I find him one of the most irritating people on the planet. How can you look like Christian Slater and manage to be more annoying than him? Side trail. The cast would be fine if they had any kind of material to work with in-between battles, but they don’t. It’s wooden and staid and you just prayed another kaiju was going to show up so it’d be Jaeger time.
What’s good about Pacific Rim? It looks freaking amazing. If you want to see huge robots (they’re not Transformers, guys, that’s irritating; every robot is not a Transformer now) beating the living snot out of lizards the size of Guam, then you are in for a treat. When the fight sequences are happening and you’re seeing combat on a scale you’ve never seen before, the film is summer popcorn awesomeness. The Jaegers have a weight and presence to them that makes them feel like functioning mechs and not CGI creations. But even this wears a little thin without any kind of personal stake in the war, and the final solution is like a reverse of the Independence Day resolution.
It’s ok. If you have any interest in seeing it, go in the theater, because the scale demands it. You’re not going to get the same experience watching this film at home and the scale and fights are the only reason to see it. The F/X are the ones to beat for the Oscar, but from a del Toro film I expect a lot more. Overall, it was another 2013 letdown for me.