Is Pacific Rim the best Monster Movie of all times? – Back in the 1980’s Japanese animation had just started gaining traction in popularity. The likes of Gundam, Macross/Robotech, and Voltron were quickly becoming popular and still have quite a large fan base to this day. The popularity of these shows came not just from their detailed looks, interesting characters, and mature story lines, but their giant fighting robots, also known as Mechs. Unlike Transformers, these mechs were piloted by regular humans and used as war machines like tanks and jets. These giant robots captured the imagination of children worldwide as they fought with missles, swords, guns, whips, and other weapons while fighitng on land, underwater and in space. With countless cartoons, toys, and animated movies based on giant fighting robots, can Pacific Rim truly deliver an awe inspiring Mech movie or will it fumble the same way 1998’s Godzilla did with Japanese monster movies.
The first thing you will notice in this film is how visually stunning everything looks. Guillermo Del Toro has always had a knack for providing audiences with spectacular effects and Pacific Rim is easily his best looking film. Del Toro went all out with the effects to make the monsters or Kaiju, and giant robots or Jeagers, look jaw dropping real. What makes everything work so well is that every Jeager and Kaiju have their own look and personality that even in large battles you never lose track of which one is which. The uniqueness of each helps make every battle in the movie exciting and different. From Kaijus that spit acid, fight like a gorilla, fly, swim, and swing tails to Jeagers with three arms, chest rockets, swords, and spinning blades you will see these just about everything you could ask for in these battles.
Apart from the great effects, Pacific Rim also has a great cast. Idris Elba stars as Stacker Pentecost, the leader of the Jeager group. Charlie Hunnam is Raleigh Becket, our protagonist of the film who with Rinko Kikuchi, Mako Mori are copilots. Elba brings home a fantastic performance as Pentecost, who is a war torn general who is trying his best to keep together a rebel group together to fight the incoming Kaiju monsters. Hunnam, while good, isn’t anything to really write home about and Rinko is just a fun watch as pilot with a dark past. The questionable choice in the cast, which I liked but still found hard to swallow was Charlie Day as a scientist whose expertise is in Kaijus. Day along with Burn Gorman play fellow scientists and are mostly used for comedy relief. While they both work wonders in the comedy, it is still hard to take them as scientists.
I tried to delay this as much as I could, but the story is less than spectacular. The story is nothing new and follows a very generic tragic hero who lost a loved one, gave up on everything, and then only to be forced out of retirement to prove his worth and save the world. You can pretty much predict how this story is going to play out as they don’t really strive for anything new or original. The story here is mostly a device to get to the next great battle.
As a long time fan of giant robots, Japanese animes, and video games I really enjoyed this movie. If you are coming into this film to see a summer action film with never before seen visuals then Pacific Rim more than delivers. This movie is a love letter to those old Japanese animes and to that a heartfelt one.