Giant monsters, known as Kaiju, are emerging through a rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, destroying cities across the world. In response, humans have created Jaegers, huge robots designed to repel the alien threat. As more and more Kaiju start appearing, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and other elite Jaeger pilots are tasked with wiping them out once and for all.
There are various reasons why one goes to the cinema. Maybe it’s to be scared by a horror film or intellectually challenged by something arty. Maybe it’s to laugh yourself hoarse. However, for many a trip to the cinema is an opportunity for mindless escapism, and if that’s you then Pacific Rim delivers in swathes.
Because, you see, Pacific Rim isn’t going to make you think, but that’s never its intention. Director Guillermo del Toro has been quite open about channeling his inner 11 year old when making this film and that’s precisely what he intends the audience to do also.
Let’s get the nitpicks out the way first. The script is terrible; there’s no other way of putting it. It’s cheesy and cliched throughout, and I actually laughed out loud at one point at something that wasn’t intended to be funny. But yet it somehow works. Sure, I’d preferred the script to have a little more brains to it, but its cheesiness still works for the film in the most part. The story is also incredibly predictable. You know exactly what’s going to happen next pretty much all the way through and nothing comes as much of a surprise. However, again, you can largely overlook this. You might see everything coming a mile off but it’s not the kind of film than needs loads of twists and turns.
Onto the good stuff.
The sense of scale in Pacific Rim is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Both the Jaegers and the kaiju look absolutely immense and you really feel every skull-crunching blow during the fight scenes. And unlike Man of Steel (and many others), you can actually tell what’s going on during these scenes. The camera lingers just a little longer and is much less frenetic, really helping you fully appreciate the action and impressive CGI.
And despite the predictable plotting, the film also has a surprising amount of heart. Fallen comrades, daddy issues and childhood trauma all play a part in adding just a little more depth to the story. It’s all pretty standard fare but still handled reasonably well.
It’s also delivered well, too. Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi all do admirably as the film’s major players, whilst bit parters such as Ron Perlman’s black market kaiju trader add a bit of flavour to proceedings. Only Geiszler & Gottlieb (Charlie Day & Burn Gorman), the two eccentric professors and the film’s obvious comedic relief, feel a little awkward and irritating.
It’s not difficult to see where Pacific Rim gets its inspiration from. The Japanese kaiju movies from the 1950s and 60s such as Godzilla and Mothra are the most obvious influence, along with mecha anime films, but there are a number of other influences, including World War 2 and martial arts films mixed in as well. It’s clear del Toro had a blast with this and that really comes across.
Pacific Rim ticks pretty much all the blockbuster boxes and is never going to win any originality awards, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. It’s big, cheesy and dumb, but ya know what? Sometimes that’s OK.