Let me start out by saying that I’m probably the target demographic for Pacific Rim. After all, it has giant robots fighting huge monsters. Being a fan of the Super Robot craze of the early 80’s and Godzilla movies (Not the American version. That was an abomination), I was stoked to see this movie. At the same time, this got me worried. Did I set my expectations too high?
Short answer: Nope! This movie met my lofty expectations easily. Pacific Rim is a great homage to good ol’ monster movies as well as mecha anime like Mazinger Z.
If you haven’t watched the movie, don’t worry; this will be a SPOILER-FREE review.
Pacific Rim takes place in the near future. Monsters called Kaiju have been attacking Earth’s cities from a portal located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat these monsters, all of the world’s governments pooled their resources and developed huge robots called Jaegers. But, since these Jaegers are too massive to control by one person (it causes a great strain on the pilot), it is necessary to have two pilots link their minds together with a process called “drifting.” This enables them to know what the other person is thinking and make them act in unison.
The first thing that struck me while watching this movie would be the atmosphere. Guillermo del Toro managed to create a world and history during the initial minutes of the movie that sets the mood for the entire film. It may look extremely serious but there’s this cartoony quality which reminded me of old mecha cartoons and anime like Gundam and, going back even further, Mazinger Z.
Speaking of mecha, the Jaegers are extremely well designed. Each of them are unique and have their own strengths, weaknesses and weaponry. This approach is definitely not realistic as I would imagine it’d be easier for the world’s governments to come up with one unified design so they can mass produce the parts easily. But having different designs for each Jaeger makes it exciting to see how they all perform. It also makes them easy to distinguish who’s who. Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka are easily the two best designed and the two you’ll see a lot of in the film.
A lot of care also went to the creation of the kaiju. Every one of them have their own look and special attacks. They’re even given codenames whenever they’re spotted. But, compared to the Jaeger designs, the Kaiju just don’t look as impressive. They’re all vicious, sure, but I guess I wanted to see them all fight in a different way. Still, I wouldn’t want to be in the area when a kaiju and Jaeger fight.
The fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaiju are a sight to behold. This is where the movie really shines. There’s really a sense of scale about how big the robots and monsters are when you see them. Each battle was exciting and blew me away each time. Every attack done by both behemoths feel really big, making each fight scene feel more epic. My only gripe is that the fights occur at night or in the dark. I wish you could see an actual battle happen during the daytime to be able to see them more clearly.
All the characters come off as stereotypes, which is fine for this kind of a movie. The Chinese triplets who pilot the Crimson Tornado all look like Shaolin monks for some reason. The Russian duo who control Cherno Alpha look tough and serious. The commander of the Jaegers is super serious at all times. The scientists are quirky and weird. Yes, they are stereotypes but fits with the overall feel of the movie.
On the acting front, I think everyone in the cast did an admirable job. While I can see Idris Elba getting praise for his portrayal as the stern and serious commanding officer, I actually liked the acting of the two scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) more. They were the comedy relief and they did their job well. I loved every minute they were on screen.
The film could have been better edited, I think. The pacing is good and they do give adequate time to get to know the characters. However, there are plot points that either do not have any bearing in the overall story and don’t go anywhere or are solved too quickly. These plot points were there to add some more personality to each person so they do have a purpose. But they felt like they were inserted in and could have been implemented in a much better way.
Still, Pacific Rim is an extremely good film. The fight scenes are fantastic and the characters are interesting and fun to watch. These points definitely makes up for the problem regarding the unnecessary plot points. Definitely something you have to go out and watch.
Have you seen Pacific Rim? What did you think of the film? Please leave your thoughts and comments below!