Cert: 12A Runtime: 132 mins Director: Guillermo del Toro Cast: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnman, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman,Robert Kazinsky and Ron Pearlman
Let’s go fishin’
The wait is over, del Toror bringing giant robots and monsters to the big screen. It has been on my radar for a while now, this man is a genius and I looked forward to it. The only thing that surprised me was the lack of a well known cast bar Idris Elba and Ron Pearlman (will get back to this later. So what is Pacific Rim? it’s not a porno to start with. The alien invasion of Earth has begun! But it didn’t come from space, as we anticipated. Instead, a portal between dimensions opened up beneath the Pacific Ocean. Hordes of enormous monsters known as Kaiju emerged from the depths, claiming millions of lives. Mankind fought back by developing vast 2,500 tonne robots called Jaegers. Each is controlled by two pilots acting in unison by means of a mind meld. But after years of warfare, it seems the relentless Kaiju are gaining the upper hand. Our only hope lies with washed-up former pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and inexperienced trainee Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), piloting an obsolete Jaeger under the command of inspirational General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). That is all you need to know.
Guillermo del Toro’s films are filled with both the intelligence of the best of science fiction, fantasy, and horror and a flawlessly-rendered vision unique to him. His innate knowledge of what makes those outlandish stories truly matter to us is the backbone of his work as a writer and director, and his visual style is one that invokes true wonder.It’s that wonder, that childlike glee that makes ‘Pacific Rim’ work so well, and well it does work. This is a brawny, massive film made by a true artist and auteur at the top of his game, but while the technicality of this film could have been mounted by any number of working directors, the magic of Guillermo del Toro is that he infuses every film with himself. His love of the material, whatever it may be, shines brightly through every frame. It is this complete sincerity that makes his films such a joy to experience, and even when there are 250-foot behemoths slugging it out on the screen, there’s not a trace of the disastrous irony so readily supplied by other blockbusters anywhere to be found.The cast gamely comes to play, with Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost as the stoic leader of the jaeger program, Charlie Hunnam as former pilot Raleigh Becket, who suffered a tragic loss and has to be convinced to return to jaeger service, and Oscar-nominated Rinko Kinkuchi as Mako Mori, another life touched by the kaiju and ready to serve up some righteous fury.
If these sound like tried-and-true archetypes, it’s because they are. This is a grand, epic war film on a bigger scale than anything ever attempted before in that genre, and one of the strokes of genius from del Toro and original writer Travis Beacham is that we instantly identify and identify with the characters on screen. There are so many ideas flying around (monsters, mechas, neural bonding, kaiju culture, and many, many more) that the broadly-drawn characters serve as a perfect anchor for the audience, immediately relatable in their inherent humanity.It seems that the mission statement of this movie was, in a word, “texture.” Del Toro delivered a visual feast unlike any other big spectacle films, with his insistence on it not looking like a “glossy car commercial.” Instead, every frame is filled with rain, snow, scuffs, smoke, debris, and other visual elements that reflect the weight and dimension of these Cyclopean combatants. Unlike the ultra-glossy (and emotionally irrelevant) ‘Transformers’ films, or virtually any other modern big-budget actioner, this universe feels dirty, grungy, and lived-in. It invokes those most elusive of emotions in the modern studio film: wonder, awe, and sheer enjoyment. No one builds worlds like del Toro, and here he is, the master, inviting you to play in his sandbox with him. Pacific Rim truly is the ultimate Pop Corn movie for me.