Pacific Rim (2013)

In 2012 a trailer was released that promised so much. For me personally, it was like they’d reached into the deepest, geekiest part of my brain, and decided to put everything I wanted to see into a single film. We were teased with a narrative by the oh so familiar Charlie ‘Jax Teller’ Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame, shown huge grotesque monsters destroying cities, and colossal, human-powered robots built to fight them. This had me more than excited, but then…she spoke. GLaDos from Portal’s synthetically human voice piped up and that was it; I was sold. Seven months have passed, and now it’s here on the big screen. That film is Pacific Rim. The question is, does it live up to the hype it made for itself?

In short, yes.

Pacific Rim follows story of Earths struggle against fearsome creatures from another world called the ‘Kaiju’. A portal known as “the breach” has opened up deep in the pacific and for years, at a steady rate, these behemoths have been coming through and tearing Earth a new one. The worlds response is “To fight monsters, we created monsters of our own”. These ‘monsters’ come in the form of giant, robots known as ‘Jaegers’, controlled by two skilled pilots who meld their minds to create the perfect symbiosis, they set about pushing the threat back. Initially it’s a success, but the Kaiju are becoming stronger, and are adapting, so drastic new measures are set into action to counteract this growing threat. So enters our hero Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) as a gifted yet reckless (and oh so clichéd) Jaeger pilot, redrafted 5 years after a disastrous battle with a Kaiju.

That is essentially the premise of the film. You could call it ‘monsters vs robots’ and you initially wouldn’t be remiss for thinking that’s all the film is. But scratch beneath the surface though, you’ll actually see there is a great deal more to Pacific Rim than that.

In terms of the ‘on the surface’ plot, and the fight scenes, I literally have never seen anything like it one film. My jaw dropped on more than one occasion at the sheer, overwhelming, over-the-top imagination that Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) envisioned. Every single fight seen topped the last, and I found my heart racing and adrenaline surging. Nothing was left off the table, and nothing was considered too over the top. It’s like they brainstormed cool ways for robots to fight monsters, and struggled to find the best way, so they chucked everything in; and my god, did it work! The visual effects are flawless, and I can only begin to comprehend the amount of work that went into creating such a spectacle.

The casting is magnificent. Hunnam manages to perfectly balance the all-American hero/reckless wild card personas. He’s supported by Robert Kazinsky (Eastenders, True Blood) who plays the Iceman to His Maverick, two bumbling and conflicting scientists Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood, Layer Cake) and a magnificent performance by relative newcomer to western cinema Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom). Add yet another unbelievably badass performance by Idris Elba (Luther, Prometheus) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy) pretty much just playing himself, and you’ve got an ensemble cast that worked perfectly together.

The Jaegers are a character in themselves too; each one adopting the fighting style and characteristics of the pilots controlling them. They are each as beautifully unique and the next, and the same can be said of the Kaiju. It takes some serious imagination to think up such versatile and unique monstrosities, but Del Toro is a seasoned pro at this, so it’s no surprise that this was pulled off expertly.

The soundtrack is something that I hope does not go unnoticed, and to be honest, I’d be genuinely shocked if people weren’t moved by it. Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man, Clash of the Titans) set about such a score, that it had me excited, sorrowful, and had tears in my eyes from the sheer grandness of the spectacle in front of me on more than one occasion. The last time I felt so moved from the sheer epicness of the music in a film, was 10 years ago, when thousands of Rohirrim charged into battle in The Return of the King.

In terms of shortcomings, there are so few things that they barely warrant a mention. It can even be argued that they were intentional. I grew a little tired at the beginning of the back and forth between Hunnam and his brother, and the Rivalry between him and Kazinsky bore more than a passing resemblance to the Maverick/Iceman rivalry in Top Gun. But so obvious was it, that it may well have been a hat tip to the 80’s classic. Also, I found myself on more than one occasion, at the end of a battle thinking ‘why didn’t they just use that kick ass weapon at the start of the fight?’, but then again, it would have made for a very short and boring sequence of fight scenes.

For me, Pacific Rim has it all. It had Monsters, Robots, human interaction, character development, great pace, great action, and special effects the likes of which I’ve never seen. It’s enough to make Michael Bay (hopefully) walk into one of his explosions instead of walk away. This is a must see on the big screen, and although the enjoyment will be immense on small screen, it is a big screen ESSENTIAL.

I don’t believe there’s any such thing as the perfect film, but personally, Pacific Rim had everything I wanted in a film, and I urge everyone to go and see it as soon as possible.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

One Comment on “Pacific Rim”

  1. Dan O. says:

    Nice review Ben. I was able to believe that monsters and robots could fight all of the time, and I never got bored of it.

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