"A Heartfelt Tribute to a bye-gone era of Japanese Pop Culture."
Giant Monsters vs Giant Robots from different parts of the world, Robots with human pilots who mind-meld to become one fully function engine of destruction, and the many, many, many bystanders who run from them....Sound familiar?
If you've been a fan of anime, or have even a hint of sci-fi nerdiness in you, you've probably seen at least one of those elements some time in your life. I'm not kidding - you've probably seen this before...or dreamt it. Pacific Rim takes everything we've seen in the sci-fi genre, and blends it in with the ever-evolving genre of japanese anime, and adds a meaty helping of "kaiju eiga"(Giant Monster Movies in japanese) to give us this beautifully elegant and honest tribute to all things Japan.
Guillermo Del Toro's chilldhood is in full effect here: From the word "go" we're treated to a stylistically filmed portrayal of a world in the clutches of fear; Giant monsters have run amok and the world's forces are fast becoming inefficient at disposing of them. Enter the "Jaegers", an advanced breed of mechanical tanks, engineered to match the Kaiju, pound for pound. Within these mechanical powerhouses are pilots both brave and worthy enough to pilot them, as doing so is no easy task - their minds must become one so as to control the jaegers properly. Here lies the movie's theme - "Trust". More on that later.
We're Introduced to the hero, Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), and his brother, Yancy Beckett, who are on deck when a high level kaiju decides to rear its' ugly head. When they're dispatched...things don't go as planned. Fast forward a couple of years and the Jaeger program, complete with its' staff, is shut down, due to the dangers they pose to society, and their respective countries. Not being one to walk away, tacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), decides to pack his things and go on to plan B...and that's where our movie starts.
What we have here is essentially a live-action anime done exquisitely well. Del Toro's attention to detail and craft shines in each carefully colorized piece of scenery, whether its' the grim, shady streets of Neo Hong Kong, to the steampunk-grainy hallways of Jaeger HQ. If flash and pizazz are your thing, you're sure to find it here.
The theme of "trust" was mentioned earlier, and with good reason: This movie thrives in it. It trusts you to trust it to take you for a ride, just as Del Toro trusts his vision to go over gracefully on screen. Our protagonists deal with the issue of trust within themselves, with each other, and with the outside world, as they're paired together for the sake of survival. Can they learn to coexist, knowing that they're both unstable within the Jaeger? Can we trust the Jaeger to reverberate the human drama?
Not since the likes of anime like Evangelion and Gundam have we seen the conflict of man and machine take center stage in the way that Pacific Rim takes it. The movie's flagship Jaeger, "Gypsy Danger" is an amazing piece of artistry - showcasing both a retro Gigantor/Iron Giant vibe as well as a modern-day sleek finish. It leaps of-screen as an enhancement of its' human counterparts. As the movie's centerpiece, you'd expect it to be memorable, right? Well, it is. Whatever robo-weapon you can think of, this beast probably has it: Arm Cannon? Check. Chest Beam? Check. Hidden blades? Check. Rocket Punch? Double Check! Can it act? Well, it's a robot. The effects team at ILM took great care to bring its',and all the Jaegers movements, to realistic accuracy. They move as they should, and are stunningly sharp.
Aren't we forgetting something? Riiight...The KAIJU! These lumbering forces of nature are a sight to behold. While there are only a few types, we get to see them all with brutal eminence - their presence on-screen is never dull, or dubiously placid. The battles, either on land, or in water, have been carefully envisioned to place you, the viewer, within each scene as a quiet observer - the panorama paints a colorful canvas of destruction that you will not pan away from. Guaranteed.
The faults, if any, would lie in the story & script...but they're SO minute, that the only reason they're mentioned, is to drive the point that Pacific Rim, isn't perfect, though it painstakingly tried to be. This movie is, for all intents and purposes, a live action lovechild of 80s anime and modern-day cinematics. You're not going to get any inspirational psychobabble from anyone other than the man in charge, so you can't really expect the supporting cast to play it straight. On the flip side, thanks to the supporting cast's sublime delivery, we get to see who they really are in their own world, and are easily able to understand the characters' goals by the movie's end...and what an end it is.
If you're a fan of Japan's Giant Monsters, Robots, Oceancentric movies, disaster films, fighting, martial arts, hot guys, asian chicks, or even a little crazy science...or heck, you just wanna see something fun, PACIFIC RIM is for you.