Guillermo del Toro delivers the goods and then some with “Pacific Rim,” a movie that feels like the fantasy of a 10-year-old who watches too much “Power Rangers.”
With fantastic production design, stunning visuals, a surprisingly deep world and, of course, lots of action, “Pacific Rim” is “Transformers” on steroids.
It’s unfair to judge a movie like “Pacific Rim” too harshly. It’s not a film that’s trying to make a statement, and it’s clear that everyone involved is totally aware of that.
“Pacific Rim” does what it sets out to do and does it extremely well — it’s a really enjoyable sci-fi action romp. The movie has terrific production design, awesome visual effects and an interesting fictional universe. It’s the best kind of cinematic escapism, the perfect fusion of pure action indulgence and clever film-making.
With “Pacific Rim” pretty much destined to become a franchise, let’s hope that we get to see more of this world at some point in the future –- no doubt with the action dialed up a few insane notches.
“Pacific Rim” is a film about desperation. The Jaegers, titanic mechs controlled by two mind-linked pilots, represent humanity’s last line of defense against the Kaiju, similarly gargantuan alien monsters from a portal deep beneath the Pacific Ocean.
The universe that del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham have created is very intriguing. This is a world that has adapted and responded to a constant threat of attack, and “Pacific Rim” offers a glimpse into both the societal and human ramifications that the Kaiju have had.
“Pacific Rim” is apocalyptic sci-fi at its best, with a lot of interesting ideas on display.
The pacing is excellent throughout the movie. The opening is immediately engaging and gives you a tease for the Jaeger vs. Kaiju battles that are to come. Afterward there is quite a long segment of set up and development, but it’s by no means boring, and pays off when the action really kicks in later on.
The production design in “Pacific Rim” is absolutely stellar, possibly the best in a science-fiction film since “Prometheus.” Both the Kaiju and the Jaegers are incredibly well designed. No doubt a tremendous amount of time and effort was put into creating them and it really shows, giving the film a sense of authenticity as well as a very unique look.
The computer-generated imagery — and there’s a lot of it –- looks amazing across the board, but the amount of physical sets that are used is pleasantly surprising. Despite the fact that “Pacific Rim” was post-converted to 3-D, the effect looks really good, adding a lot of dimension, vibrancy and immersion to the movie.
There is also some awe-inspiring cinematography in “Pacific Rim.” Del Toro’s visual style has hints of both Zack Snyder’s stylish detail and Neill Blomkamp’s gritty realism, and the editing is decent throughout.
Idris Elba is definitely the stand-out performance, but Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) also do great jobs as the other two major leads, the pilots of a famous Jaeger known as Gypsy Danger.
Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Burn Gorman (“Torchwood”) play two somewhat endearing scientists, and Ron Perlman also has a great role, even if it is small and a bit goofy.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The plot of “Pacific Rim” is a little light and somewhat predictable — not necessarily bad, just nothing especially ground-breaking or risky. The characters are pretty well defined but their story arcs are simple and a tiny bit clichéd, possibly because del Toro cut an hour’s worth of material from the movie.
Plus, although there are a lot of awesome concepts in the script, they are only explored on a surface level. Bits of dialogue aren’t very good, and the acting is a tad wooden at times. Day and Gorman can be very irritating in their roles, too. “Pacific Rim” has heart but little genuine emotion, although granted that’s not something that’s expected with a movie like this.
Despite the world being engrossing, it would have been great to see more of it, especially the history of the Kaiju War and a closer, deeper look into the Jaeger program itself. The film should have explored the emotional, physical and mental strain that the Jaegers have on the pilots; this is touched on, to be fair, but not enough.
The battle scenes are suitably epic and exciting, but unfortunately almost all of the best shots and scenes are shown in the trailers. This doesn’t detract from the quality and the fun of the movie, but it does eliminate some of the action scenes’ impact.
The soundtrack is serviceable, but not particularly memorable. This is disappointing given composer Ramin Djawadi’s impressive work on “Game of Thrones” and “Prison Break.”
GIVING CREDIT WHERE IS DUE
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures, “Pacific Rim” was directed by Guillermo del Toro from a screenplay by del Toro and Travis Beacham. It was produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Guillermo del Toro and Mary Parent. It stars Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba and Charlie Day.