Director Guillermo Del Toro has introduced an interesting new twist to the â€œgiant monster run amokâ€ genre with his latest film â€œPacific Rimâ€. The movie details how extraterrestrial life has appeared upon the earth via a rift in the ocean floor. These gigantic alien life are known as Kaijus after the Japanese word for gigantic creature and have unleashed utter devastation upon the coastal cities of the world. Since the first attack took six days to repel, the leaders of the world devised a new plan of defense which involves the building of gigantic mechanized robots or Jaegers, after the German word for hunter. It is learned that the initial results were very promising however as time went along, the alien threat continued to evolve and adapt and were soon becoming a challenge for the mech defenses.
Enter into the mix Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a young Jaeger pilot who, with his brother, pilots the Gypsy Danger mech. It is learned that two pilots are needed to control the mechs as the neural demands were too much for one individual alone. Through a process known as â€œdriftingâ€ the pilots are linked to one anotherâ€™s minds which allows them each to control one half of the machine in combat situations. Needless to say it is vital that the two pilots are compatible as the connection allows them to see into each otherâ€™s minds and memories so therefore having somebody of a compatible nature is key to success.
Six years into the war tragedy strikes leaving Raleigh dissolution and alone. In the ensuing seven years he is working on a last gasp project to build gigantic walls around coastal cities in an effort to stop the alien menace and protect cities. Things have not been going well and due to increasing losses the command has canceled the Jaeger program and ordered the few remaining next to Hong Kong to provide a measure of defense will wall is completed.
This does not sit well with Defense Marshall Pentecost (Idris Elba), who believes that the mechs offer humanityâ€™s best defense against the enemy and as such he seeks down Raleigh and return Sam reluctantly to the program. It is learned that there are only four mechs left and a desperate plan to deliver a nuclear payload through the rift directly to the enemy is put in place. Of course complications arise specifically in the form that Raleigh needs to find a new copilot and by far and away the best candidate for him Rinko (Mako Mori) is being blocked from taking part in the mission by the Defense Marshall. This combined with tension between their rival pilot and Raleigh certainly has him rethinking his place in the mission.
As if this was not complicated enough, base scientist Newton (Charlie Day), is convinced that there is a much bigger threat coming and that their current course of action is not going to be enough to save the day.What follows is an FX heavy spectacle of action as humanity makes a last-ditch stand against the alien apocalypse in spectacular style.
The movie, while entertaining, does strain credibility to a serious extreme even by adventure film standards. Weâ€™re supposed to believe that enormous amounts of money have been spent to develop and maintain the defense program when the weaponry aboard the mechs as well as conventional weaponry such as Tomahawk missiles and such could be mounted aboard ships and coastal batteries and deployed with similar success at a significantly reduced cost. We are told that the initial attack took six days to repel using jets and tanks but from my point of view heavy assault gunships, rail guns, cruise missiles, as well as the plasma weaponry shown in the film would certainly do the job from any floating or fixed coastal location.
Even though the 3-D in the movie was converted it was done very well and there were some very good moments of immersion especially during the very well done combat sequences. My biggest issue was that the middle of the film tended to drag as we had a lot of interpersonal dramas play out but they lacked attention and character development that they needed to be fully effective. Despite the extremely solid cast, many of the characters were very thinly developed as the emphasis on the movie was clearly on putting giant robots against giant creatures and unleashing as much carnage and mayhem as possible.
In this regard the film worked however the times in between do not work so well and there is a surprising lack of chemistry amongst many of the leads which undermines the sense of urgency, desperation, and sacrifice which is key to the story.
Charlie Day provides some good comic relief in his role and Hunnam and Elba do a good job with the limited characters that they are given.
While it is not a bad film by any stretch the imagination, it could have been so much more because as it stands now it is basically in the vein of the Toho Godzilla movies just with a bigger budget and better effects.
3 stars out of 5