Pacific Rim is movie that requires simple expectations to enjoy. If you're looking to watch a movie about CGI robots punching CGI monsters with the best graphics modern technology has to offer, you'll leave extremely happy. Guillermo del Toro's new movie is an unapologetic blockbuster, filled with over the top action sequences, a simple heart-filled plot and servicable acting.
In the not-too-distant future, kaiju have attacked the Earth, rising from the deep via a fissure between dimensions. To defend the planet, human governments create a small army of Jaegers, giant robots controlled by teams of two humans linked together by a "neural handshake". However, as the cost of battle stacks up and earth's governments abandon the program, the last Jaeger pilots, led by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), plan a final assault against the monsters. Cue the robots punching monsters.
The action sequences in Pacific Rim are second to none. The second half of the movie is comprised largely of two action sequences, filled with brutal, cheer-inducing fights. del Toro shows his love of the mecha and kaiju genres throughout the film, without making the movie seem generic or cliched. The graphics are also top-notch, especially in 3D IMAX. I imagine this is one of those movies in which the whole 3D experience enhances the film as opposed to being a needless sideshow.
del Toro also wisely shies away from filling the movie with too much fluff or needless characterization. After all, people aren't coming to watch Pacific Rim for the gripping character studies or complex plot. They're coming to watch robots get their arms ripped off by massive monsters. However, the movie isn't heartless either. This is a story about triumphing against the odds and del Toro makes you root for the humans as they punch the blue out of the kaiju.
The largest flaw with the movie are the main characters, Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori. Hunnam and Kikuchi's acting, while not poor or detrimental, is generic and bland, which puts them on par with most other blockbuster leads. Their performances in the film don't hold the movie back at all, but it certainly doesn't add to it either. Luckily, the rest of the cast doesn't suffer from the same problem. Elba is a force in the movie, the stoic rock that keeps Pacific Rim grounded. I could listen to him give generically inspiring speeches all day. Charlie Day is also a scene-stealer, playing a kaiju specialist working for the Jaegers. Ron Perlman also adds a little bit of over the top humor as a kaiju parts smuggler.
Pacific Rim won't win any Oscars for its acting or captivating plot. However, it's clear that the cast and crew weren't trying to make that film either. Pacific Rim is a fun, enjoyable film, one that makes the audience laugh and cheer along the way. It takes a special kind of curmudgeon not to enjoy a film in which a robot drags a cargo freighter through the streets of Hong Kong to bludgeon a monster with. So take a few hours, go to see Pacific Rim and turn your brain off for a bit. Pacific Rim is the sort of fun action blockbuster other films try to be and fail.