Movie Review: Pacific Rim (2013)

Posted: April 27, 2014 in Comedy, Drama

Pacific-Rim

For 10 years, the earth has been under attack by Kaiju, dinosaur like creatures that lived under the plates in the Pacific Rim, and came to the surface through what’s called the beach, a portal between our two worlds.  Mankind put their differences past them, and built jaegars, huge robots to fight the kaiju.  The world got really good at fighting the kaiju, until the monsters evolved and started destroying the jaegars.  Two of the best jaegar piliots are Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff) and his brother, Raleigh. (Charlie Hunnam)  One day, during another wave of kaiju attacks, Yancy is killed, the public is starting to lose faith in the jaegars, and the latest idea is to build a wall to stop the kaiju, decommission the jaegers, send them to Hong Kong and send the commander of the jaegar program, Stacker Pentecost, (Idris Elba)  into early retirement.

But Pentecost has other ideas, it is months before they can finish the wall, and the kaiju seem to be penetrating the wall like a hot knife through butter, so Pentecost relies on what he knows best, the jaegar program.  He wants Raleigh to control the jaegar, but Raleigh needs a co-pilot because the drift or melding of minds is too much for one brain. The best candidate is Mako Mori (Rinko Kakuchi) a girl Pentecost saved from a kaiju attack years before.  Mako is traumatized by the attack she witnessed as a child, but can she bury those memories long enough to work with Raleigh?  Will Pentecost stop being protective about Mako long enough to let her pilot the jaegar with Raleigh?  Will Pentecost’s plan work?

I like Pacific Rim.  I know, I know it’s a cross between Godzilla and the Transformers, but there are lots of influences that shape this movie, it’s part Godzilla, part Transformers, but I also see elements of movies like Avatar, Independence Day, the Matrix, and yes even Star Wars in this movie.  So what makes this movie better than just a cheap rip off of other sci fi movies?  It’s the characters.  Mako has to fight Raleigh in a martial arts duel before she can xo-pilot the jaegar, Pentecost has fatherly feelings for Mako, there’s a rivalry between two scientists, one who specializes in predicting the attacks, and the other who wants to learn about the keiju biology.  There’s also a smarmy guy who deals in selling parts of the dead keiju for profit. These are fun characters, and I enjoyed seeing them interact.  If there is a drawback to the story it is that the movie is too long and indulges in too many special effects.  It’s also easy as a Star Trek episode to tell who the extras are, but that’s a minor quibble.

The acting makes this movie even better.  Charlie Hunnam is good as the action hero Raleigh, brave yet sensitive because of the death of his brother.  Rinko Kakuchi is also good as Mako, part sidekick, part love interest, though thankfully, the writers don’t delve too deeply into the love interest portion of their characters but it’s definitely hinted at.  Idris Elba is good as part action hero being put out to pasture part father figure.  Elba injects this character with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude that definitely adds some dimension to the character.  But it is Charlie Day and Ron Perlman who absolutely steal this movie and make it a pleasure to watch.  Day revels in playing the fast-talking, combative biologist whose scientific curiosity is only superseded by his survival instinct.  Ron Perlman happily wades into the swamp to find his character, complete with gold shoes that make him look like the neighborhood pimp.

This is not writer/director Guillermo Del Toro’s best film that would be Pan’s Labyrinth, but it may be his most entertaining film.  I only wish he had cut the length and the special effects.  Other than that, it’s a damn good summer popcorn action flick.

Pacific Rim.  Filled to the rim with fun.

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