Pacific Rim is pure style, spectacle and joy of film making. It advertises itself as giant robots vs. giant monsters and that's exactly what you're going to get. If that sounds awesome, you're right. If it sounds like the story and characters might get a bit watered down due to the extra attention placed on the sheer "wow" factor you're also. Here's a brief outline of the story: In the near future, earth came under attack by aliens. These aliens didn't come from space though; they came from a dimensional portal deep at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. This isn't your traditional alien invasion either. Instead of flying saucers, Earth is assaulted by Kaiju, titanic monsters as tall as skyscrapers who make mincemeat out of cities and practically ignore tanks and fighter jets. As the attacks grew more frequent and more devastating, governments around the world joined forces to create Jaegers, giant mechanical robots piloted by teams of two. By using their mechanical fists and medieval style weapons the Jaegers were able to hold back the Kaiju menace. Unfortunately the Kaijus started coming in stronger and smarter and eventually the Jaegers stopped being practical or effective against the alien menace. The project was discontinued and the number of active Jaegers dwindled to nearly nothing. With the new defensive strategy a total disaster, it's up to our protagonist, retired pilot Raleigh Becket and the other remaining Jaeger pilots to give that last push against the alien menace and try to find a solution before we are all wiped off the face of the earth.
"Pacific Rim" uses a lot of pre-existing character archetypes to help tell its story and if there's one thing to complain about, this is going to be it. The main character is the typical retired veteran. Raleigh is the one guy that's been out of the game but that's being pulled back in for that last job, the final stand. His partner? the rookie with a chip on her shoulder and the desire to prove herself. The captain? He's the tough guy who'll rally everyone with the hammy speech when it all seems lost and the authority figure that doesn't want to leave anything to chance. At the slightest sign of a malfunction he'll throw the book at ya. You get the idea. The characters aren't very deep but thanks to their ample screen time you do care about them, if only so you can see them show off their awesome skills. You're given exactly the right amount of development and backstory to know who is who and no more, no less. Some might call them clichÃ©s and thatâ€™s not entirely untrue but thankfully the movie is about more than just these characters, itâ€™s about style.
One of the areas of the film where it really shines is the design. Not just the creature designs but also the design of this entire world the film is set in. The introduction sets up this whole science-fiction reality with humans at first fearing the creatures then dismissing them as unthreatening a couple of years later. You see Jaeger pilots becoming heroes, monsters being turned into action figures and the alien invasion being reduced to the subject of comedy when the threat seems to be under control. Some people profit from the Kaiju corpses by selling the pieces on the black market as magic potions of good-luck charms. Some people worship them as divinity. Some people just see them as forces of nature and move right back in once the dust has settled, using the loose scales as shingles on their roof and leftover teeth to prop up their balconies. You see glimpses of the politics and pop culture of the world so every time the characters are outside their giant robots your eyes will be exploring the background and taking mental pictures of what you see so you can discuss it with your friends once the credits are done. This helps make the pretty far-fetched premise seem all the more real and combined with the setup you never question the idea of sending giant robots against giant monsters.
The crowning achievement of the film is in the monsters and the robots. While there are some genuine moments of humor, the movie mostly takes itself pretty seriously. It makes an effort to make the robot designs seem realistic. You see some older Jaeger models that look like they might get the job done but would definitely not stand up to some of the bigger creatures in the film. You see the latest high-tech models outfitted with some spectacular weaponry, the kind of constructs you just want to sit down and admire every nook and cranny imagining how these things work. These Jaegers are given catchy, memorable names that sound like they could be basketball teams or rock'n'roll bands like â€œGypsy Dangerâ€, â€œStriker Eurekaâ€ and â€œCrimson Typhoonâ€. Each Jaeger is completely unique and when you see them you'll instantly pick your favorite one and start fantasizing about what kind of damage it could deal to these evil invaders. In the same vein, each Kaiju is different. Whether it resembles a giant shark, a gorilla, a komodo dragon or a giant crab no two creatures are alike. There is no mistaking these for anything but extra-dimensional creatures out to wipe us off the face of the Earth and no complaining that they look too similar to a creature from another film or from real life. Saying â€œKnife Headâ€ looks like a shark is simply the best description you can give to a creature so big it can be confused for an island, is able to tear buildings to shreds, has six limbs, four eyes and a fin sticking out of its chest. You can just tell that the greatest love and care was used in creating the characters and that feeling is infectious. You won't know whether to cheer or cry when a menace is taken down because on the one hand you'll be happy to see the heroes win but on the other it just looked so cool that you'll wish it had more screen time.
When the Kaiju and Jaegers collide, it is pure excitement. The battles are dynamic and tense as each character and creature fights in its unique way and our heroes often get away with only the skin of their teeth, if at all. As these titans clash the destruction is spectacular and the special effects never let them down. The CGI and sets are totally convincing. No effort was spared when it comes to the battles and it makes the action that much more satisfying to see. It's also a film that looks great in 3D. From experience I can tell you that the best-looking 3D films use a lot of rain or dust effects to create that extra dimension and also have those big explosions and scenes of action where shrapnel is flying at you. There's no shortage of sequences where you'll be dodging and blinking as things come right at ya, popping off the screen. There are long sequences where you'll really appreciate seeing the film on the big screen with the biggest speakers ever screaming at you as the battles rage. With the film shot as is, you'll really feel both like an onlooker, a civilian caught on the ground and as a giant that gets the best view in the house. If you see the movie in 2D it wonâ€™t be the same experience, but there are many sequences where so much is going on that you might find the special effects easier to grasp when the image is flat. If you like the movie though, 3D is the way to go.
Pacific Rim is the reason why movies are premiered on the big screen. There's so much energy in the film that sitting there in a crowded theatre while people are gasping and cheering around you, you'll have a great time. Sure you've seen several elements of the plot and characters before but when the film delivers it totally makes it worth it. You'll be excited to go home and check out the bonus promotional material that's been leading up to the film to get glimpses of how they did it and to see all the little details that you missed while in sheer awe of the action. Above everything else that works, it's the love and excitement that's been poured into this project that makes it worth your time. If you love the idea of seeing giant monsters duke it out against giant robots this is the movie for you. Even if it's not a genre that you have an affinity for, you'll be impressed by everything that works. The film overall earns a 4 out of 5, particularly if youâ€™re watching it on a big screen or a large television with a good sound system. However, if you're watching it in 3D, on the biggest screen in the theatre, it's a real experience that earns a rating that's higher if you were just watching it on Blu-ray; itâ€™s a 4.5 out of 5. 2D (4 / 5, 2D Theatrical Version on the big screen, July 30, 2013)(4 / 5 3D Theatrical version on the big screen, July 27, 2013)(4.5 / 5, 3D theatrical version on the big screen, July 16, 2013)