At last, I’ve seen Pacific Rim. I’ve been wanting to check it out since it came out, but limited time, limited budget and stiff competition from things like Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness all combined to bump it from a cinema viewing into a “next convenient opportunity” choice, and that turned out to be on my recent flight to Thailand a little while ago.
Pacific Rim is a movie that should really be worse than it is. A brief description of the plot should really confirm that: a big crack in the ocean allows giant Godzilla-like monsters to start invading earth and laying waste to major cities. Earth responds by doing the only obvious thing: build giant robots piloted by two man teams to fight and destroy these monsters. But the monsters become increasingly large and frequently-appearing, and the robots aren’t good enough. Plus the government decides to pull the funding, relying on a giant wall instead. This of course proves useless, so it’s up to the last remaining pilots controlling the last remaining giant robots to both deal with their personal issues and also to put an end to this giant-monster nonsense once and for all.
See? That sounds ridiculous. It should be a terrible movie. At least as bad as, say, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Or even Sharknado. But it defies all those expectations and ends up being pretty good.
The action scenes are intense and enjoyable, the concept told with a reasonable amount of emotional plausibility, and the characterizations sufficiently specific that you don’t really mix up one character with another, even though a few of them actually look a fair bit alike. Particularly notable in the performance department is Idris Elba who delivers not the most subtle performance but a very memorable one as Marshall Stacker Pentecost (yes, seriously), a character who could have easily descended into a jerk authority figure, but ended up being much more complex and compelling than that. But really all the performances are effective, even the fairly generic lead played by Charlie Hunnam, the annoying scientist played by Charlie Day, and the hotshot pilot with a chip on his shoulder played by Rob Kazinsky. Any or all of those characters could have just been irritants, but they ended up adding nicely to the story’s tapestry, along with the giant robots and the giant monsters, of course.
Now it’s obvious to anyone with sufficient pop-culture knowledge that the whole concept is rooted in the whole anime scene. I mean, I don’t really watch anime, but even I can tell that. The How It Should Have Ended clip that I’ve embedded below really highlights this. But there’s nothing wrong with that, even if I don’t really like anime. Guillermo del Toro has basically put together the best and most enjoyable Giant Robot vs. Giant Monster movie that I’ve ever seen. As long as he can put together movies with this level of craftsmanship, than I’m not really fussed.