Sunday 14 July 2013

Film Review: Pacific Rim

"Okay everyone, time to do our best slow motion bad-ass walk like we practised"

Guillermo del Toro pitches monstrous creatures against gigantic mechs in this science-fiction epic, Pacific Rim. With mind-blowing visuals, impressive sci-fi imagery and a solid understanding of what makes an audience punch the air and whoop with joy, Pacific Rim is one of the stand-out blockbusters from this year.

Take Godzilla, Transformers, Real Steel, add a dash of humour and lashings of mind-blowing visuals and what do you get? The result is Guillermo del Toro's excellent tribute to the kaiju and mecha genres, Pacific Rim.

With a set-up as kick-ass as that, Pacific Rim is the kind of film that is the coolest film ever if you were born in the year 2003; if your ten years old and you see Pacific Rim for the first time at the cinema, it'll be one of those films you'll remember for years to come.

"Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go"
This isn't to say the film is squarely aimed at ten-year-old kids; oh no, Pacific Rim has a surprising amount of heart to support the kick-ass visuals and action. The central premise of two pilots 'mind melding' with one another isn't an original concept, but it is one that allows for the characters to take centre stage.

Pacific Rim strikes a really healthy balance between visceral, gripping action and emotional, heartfelt drama. The scale of the fight scenes have to be seen to be believed; del Toro and co. have done a fantastic job in capturing the "big, beautiful, sophisticated visuals" that they envisioned for Pacific Rim. One sequence that sees Hong Kong get decimated underneath the warring Jaegers and Kaiju is brilliant. Something that I liked was that the visuals are a lot cleaner than anything you'll see in Transformers; it isn't hard to pick out what your seeing on screen when the battles start to kick-off.

Del Toro also does a fantastic job of ensuring the human characters in Pacific Rim aren't brushed aside. The majority of Pacific Rim's middle third is focused on developing the characters of Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) and Stacker (Idris Elba), each of whom are great, three-dimensional characters with more depth than you'd expect. Mako in particular is afforded a touching back-story that fleshes out her motivations nicely - it was also nice to see a female lead who can go toe to toe with her male counterparts and not be overly sexualised.

My favourite performance was Idris Elba's straight-talking officer Stacker, as he was afforded some pretty awesome lines - "Tonight, we ARE CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE" might be cheesy, but it's a good cheese. Like parmesan. Elba had the conviction to carry off the sometimes corny and clich├ęd script - he gets a great 'apocalypse' speech akin to Bill Pullman's from Independence Day.

A poster for Pacific Rim
Charlie Day is another stand-out actor as excitable scientist Newton. He gets most of the laughs and isn't as irritating as his counter-part Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). Gottlieb is over-acted to the point where it isn't even funny any-more, just plain ridiculous. I mean, seriously, tone it down mate. We get it, your an erratic and zany scientist.

Max Martini and Rob Kazinsky also grate as they play an Australian father-son duo with fairly dubious accents - they might as well have walked in wearing cork hats and holding boomerangs.

In terms of pacing, Pacific Rim doesn't spend excess time fleshing out the past; the narrative launches right into the thick of the Kaiju war, several years after it began before jumping forward in time to the last days of the war. It's well paced and trots along at a steady speed before all coming together for a satisfying and climatic finale - it definitely doesn't drag and I left the cinema feeling like I could have watched 30 minutes more.

I really liked the films soundtrack and the way in which it isn't centred on the US of A; characters from Russia, China, Japan and Australia give the film an international flavour that is refreshing after most aliens seem to only attack the US, more specifically New York.

On the whole, Pacific Rim is a lot better than you would have expected. It's good-looking, it's well-acted and it's not a dumb action film with no substance. The script is fairly simplistic and doesn't throw you any curve-balls but the lack of complications is a good thing. It focuses the film on the human characters and allows for del Toro to extract lots of humanity from his impressive lead actors Hunnam, Kikuchi and Elba.

Without a doubt, Pacific Rim is one of the most enjoyable blockbusters this year, up there with Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3.

I give Pacific Rim: 8/10


  1. Character-development may blow, but at least the action is thrilling enough to hold you over. Nice review.

    1. I don't know, I thought Mako was developed well - Charlie Hunnam's character was a bit bland however. Thanks for commenting Dan, I thought your review was great as well!



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