Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Transformers" and "Evangelion"
Somewhere between developing a fully-fledged world terrorised by Kaijus and to some degree, Jaegers, somehow, Guillermo del Toro forgot to insert a story to match the sheer size and ambition of the film. "Pacific Rim" basically follows a standard checklist of a B-grade action film; there are the giant robots (or mechas, as a seasoned anime watcher would call them), there are the monsters, the protagonists are underdogs with tragic pasts and there is some forced humour. It is "Evangelion" and "Code Geass" without the characterisation and "Transformers" without the short running time.
Set in the near future where giant monsters identified as "Kaiju" have risen from a portal in a crevasse beneath the Pacific Ocean (this is probably how the film got its title), resulting in a war that takes millions of lives. To combat the monsters, a special type of weapon is designed: massive robots, known as Jaegers, which have to be controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is one such pilot, called out of retirement as the number of Jaegers dwindles, and he must learn to co-pilot Gipsy Danger with rookie pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) before it is too late.
There has not really been a robot movie with the blockbuster budget of "Pacific Rim" since "Iron Man 3" (although whether the latter is a robot movie is debatable), so naturally, anticipation runs high for the film. On one hand, del Toro manages to deliver the large-scale battles that we have been waiting for complete with a rousing soundtrack. Like "Man Of Steel", the film's score is among the best that you will ever hear and proves that there are others besides Han Zimmer who can compose music. However, unlike "Man Of Steel", there is not much beyond the fights. For a movie that uses "drifting" to describe real life, how we are all together in the same robot (life), that not much time is dedicated to letting it sink in. Yes, everyone has to put aside their petty disputes to work together in order survive, but considering they are humans, it is hard to believe that their personal issues can be overcome at the drop of a hat. The idea of "perfect trust" between Jaegers pilots could have also been explored further and subsequently, the relationships between the pilots and the pilots and their co-pilots, but again, this is an action film, so any attempts at heading into the waters of melodrama are issued a "cease and desist".
A self-described pacifist, del Toro plays by a far more lenient set of rules for his robot film, which is to depict mass destruction of locations and objects, minus the people, which also means minus the emotional consequences. As a result, his characters are just cookie-cutters with pre-programmed issues and their dialogue run-of-the-mill. Thankfully, del Toro has assembled a cast that is more than enthusiastic to breathe some life into their characters, on life support as they may be. You would want to see more of Charlie Hunnam after his gentlemanly maverick Raleigh Becket, who will remind many of Garrett Hedlund; while Idris Elba, as Marshal Stacker Pentecost commands more attention and respect than say, Josh Duhamel in "Transformers". Rinko Kikuchi's troubled, greenhorn co-pilot Mako Mori is the only weak link among the main cast, mainly because of her Engrish. It is not so much her pronunciation that puts us off, but rather, whenever she has to say something, it is a line so cliche that it sounds even worse when it is not pronounced properly.
The visuals, on the other hand, deserve heaps of praise. The film actually feels made for IMAX 3-D, as opposed to "Iron Man 3". You can almost feel the water splashing onto your face during the sea battles, and the debris flying overhead as the Kaijus and Jaegers tear buildings apart. The battle choreography and cinematography also manages to perfectly capture the franticness and unpredictability of the battles. The Jaegers and Kaijus are also given their own individual characteristics such as a sword for Gipsy Danger, three arms for Crimson Typhoon, all of which keeps the combat refreshing.
Despite its promise of an intricately designed world, varied beings, empathy metaphors and its valuable resources like a talented ensemble cast, excellent production and art design and atmospheric soundtrack, "Pacific Rim" fails to venture beyond just "mechas versus giant monsters" because Guillermo del Toro is content to just deliver thrilling action scenes. Story aside, del Toro's affection for the kaiju and mecha genres is apparent, as watching the film is akin to rediscovering a childhood that involves staging mock battles between toy figurines. "Pacific Rim" isn't about the characters. It is about a visual effects showcase to redefine every monster film to date.Cinema Online, 09 July 2013