Review by Lyda Morehouse
Release date: July 12, 2013
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
On the drive to the theatre to see Pacific Rim, I told my friends, “You know what I want this movie to be? Monsters! Robots! Monsters vs. Robots!”
One-hundred and thirty-one minutes later, I nodded sagely and pronounced gleefully, “There were monsters! There were robots! They fought!”
What I loved about Pacific Rim is that Guillermo Del Toro didn’t even pretend that wasn’t exactly the sort of movie he set out to make. Before we even see the movie title credits we’re thrown into a montage that explains everything we need to know: for reasons unknown (and who cares!?), alien monsters started rising out of a rift/wormhole in the Pacific and humanity bonded together to create giant robots to stop them from stomping Tokyo (and Sidney, San Francisco, etc.) to smithereens (never mind that our giant robots do at least as much damage, because: Monsters! Robots! Monsters vs. Robots!)
The story rather foolishly, in my opinion, follows our handsome, indistinguishable dude-hero, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) as he falls from grace as a jaegger, a monster/kaiju hunter (aka robot driver), when a mission goes horribly wrong. Eventually, and as a surprise to no one but our hero, Raleigh is called back to action when the kaiju mysteriously power-up and he is needed. Having lost his jaegger partner, he’s paired up with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a sexy badass with a mysterious past and a controlling father-figure.
For my money, Mako would have made a better main character. I found her back story compelling and her moment of honor and revenge was by far the most emotionally satisfying and visually awesome (swords!) part of the movie. My only other disappointment of the movie was that Mako didn’t get to beat her own apology out of the indistinguishable jackass rival-character.
There were side plots involving somewhat mad scientists and Ron Perlman being awesome in gold-plated shoes.
My only true caveat about Pacific Rim is that I think it appeals most to either serious or casual fans of the kaiju genre (which is all the Godzilla films as well as some others.) I fall into the casual fan category, but, on the flipside, I’m a big shonen manga/anime fan. I will happily watch hours and hours of movies and TV shows that involve fight scene after fight scene where our clichéd hero powers-up and shouts things like “Thundercloud formation!” (an actual moment in Pacific Rim, by the way, but not done by our hero.) I’ve been told by people much more knowledgeable about such things than I, that there are not only a ton of homages to the original Godzilla films, but also moments that will feel gleefully familiar to fans of Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam, Evangelion.
But, all that being said, I went along with one friend who was bored almost to tears by Pacific Rim, because it wasn’t her thing. The idea of “Monsters! Robots! Monsters and Robots!” was not enough for her. She wanted decent dialogue, a bit of humor, characters to care about, and maybe, you know, a story.
Eh, whatever. We agreed to disagree about Pacific Rim. Because: Swords! Acid spitting kaiju! Elbow rockets! Wing-sprouting monsters!
And . . . did I mention? There were monsters! There were robots! They fought!