Guillermo del Toro’s latest high-tech giant robots versus giant monsters blockbuster, Pacific Rim, a cross between Transformers and The Power Rangers, proves that size does in fact matter. Every second moment is filled with ear-rattling visual spectacles and punchy action sequences in an effort to get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. It then fits neatly into the U.S. summer blockbuster schedule, where studios have focused on big city destructions over meaningful storylines. Pacific Rim is a bang per buck affair with short interludes of feeble character development nestled in between the enormous fight sequences. And that’s exactly how we like our blockbusters… the bigger the better!
Stacker Pentecost: One, don’t you ever touch me again. Two, don’t you ever touch me again.
It’s the apocalypse again. In the one corner, the Kaiju, giant dinosaur like monsters (like Godzilla) that rise from deep underneath the ocean floor (off the Pacific Ocean), are roaring and destroying cities across the world. In an attempt to stop the creatures man creates the Jaegers (hunters in German), giant metallic robots, kitted with swords, guns and all sorts of imaginative weaponry. The machines are each piloted by two individuals who are required to bond their minds in order to steer. The plan works well for a time and the pilots become modern rock-stars, each with their own sneaker line to boot.
Soon the Kaiju start appearing more regularly and destroy all but a handful of Jaegers. Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) enlists the help of a former pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), in an attempt to end the war once and for all. At the same time, two amusing scientists are on the breach of discovering the truth about the Kaiju’s origins.
Stacker Pentecost: Today at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time. We have chosen to believe in each other. Today we face the monsters that are at our door, today we are cancelling the apocalypse!
Pacific Rim’s visuals are nothing short of extraordinary, particularly when the Jaeger and Kaiju clash across the wide ocean spaces. An early battle between Gipsy Danger and a lizard like Kaiju immerses the audience into a world of metal breaking, sparks flying, reptile flesh tearing, acid spitting action. Like a video game, the fights grow bigger and more complex with each round, until the final face off in the finale.
Unfortunately, the characters, with the exception of Elba’s Pentecost, are the stereotypical heroes we’ve come to expect from Hollywood blockbusters. You know, the father-and-son duo, the nerdy wise cracking scientists, the eye candy, the big mouth jerk, the shady dealer (played hilariously by Ron Perlman), the wise leader and the antihero. None of the portrayals require an audience with a high IQ, but instead appeal to the nine-year old in all of us. The honest truth is that most of the actors here are merely cameos for the real stars – the Jaegers.
Raleigh Becket: There are things you can’t fight – acts of God. You see a hurricane coming, you get out-of-the-way. But when you’re in a Jaeger, you can finally fight the hurricane. You can win.
Honestly, Guillermo del Toro could have made Pacific Rim a little bigger and a little better. Complaining seems futile though, the action sequences more than make up for any downfall the film suffers. You’ll clap and cheer as the mayhem progresses.