Pacific Rim is what the Transformers movie franchise should be without the taint of Michael Bay. It is a big, rock'em sock'em movie that delivers on what it promises the viewer: giant battles between monsters and robots. This film is not meant to be an artistic masterpiece or aiming to win awards. This movie by Guillermo del Toro is simply a love letter to the genre of giant monsters and robots fighting it out.
The plot is simple: humanity is backed heavily into a corner as alien kaiju have ravaged the Earth. The only hope for survival rests in the recently canceled Jaeger program, which consisted of two (or three) pilots linked together to pilot a massive robot. With resources limited and dwindling, Marshall Pentecost (Idris Elba) puts the fate of humanity in the hands of cast-off Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and the rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Enter what you're paying to see in glorious IMAX 3-D (at least I did and will again): epic giant robots fighting monsters.
Truly, this is what we're paying to see, and del Toro delivers in spades. The action set pieces near the end almost rival last year's the Avengers. The only thing that still makes that movie superior to this is, well, the payoff does remind me of Independence Day. The only difference between Pacific Rim and that previous blockbuster is ID4's climax mixed straight drama and action, while Pacific Rim's is tongue and cheek to the bitter end. Still, the first action piece during the second half of the movie is utterly glorious and had me wide eyed and clapping at what I was watching.
Surprisingly, the other batch of fun when there's no fighting going on is the subplot with Kaiju scientist Newton Geizler (Charlie Day), who's theory on Kaiju leads him to the black market lead by Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). We see the seedy side of what humans do with defeated kaiju parts and what kind of profit can be made from them. It's a fun, neat little addition that adds to the plot.
If there's anything negative I can say, it's that Hunnam and Kikuchi's characters are too "by the books." They have their fun moments when they pilot the Jaeger Gypsy Danger, during their sparring match, and the moments after said match. Other than that, the actors do the best they can with what little character development they got. You end up craving more knowledge about or moments with these characters.
That's the biggest problem I have. The world del Toro sets up is well developed, but small character moments are sacrificed for the fun of the action sequences. I hunger for more scenes exploring what's inside these characters heads, or the other Jaeger pilots for that matter (particularly the Russian pilots, given what we're teased with, but never fully see, unlike the Australian pilots). Still, with what we're given with Mako and Raleigh is more serviceable than some current or previous Hollywood blockbusters.
What real fun we do have with characters and are great lines delivered by Elba and Perlman, who take what del Toro hands them and run with it. Perlman seems to be naturally having a hoot playing his role, chewing the scenery up and leaving audiences with yet another character he'll be remembered for.
Pacific Rim is what a summer blockbuster should be. It's fun and entertaining from start to finish. There's not a period ever during the film that makes you cringe or takes you out of the fun. It's a straight up, fun filled ride from beginning to end. It even has the added bonus of partaking in a mid end credit scene which no doubt will have some fans cheering loudly and screaming with joy. If there's any disappointment,it's that the world of Pacific Rim is just so good, fans of the genre will just be left hungering for more of it. For some, this will be the movie to beat this summer. There's just nothing that can compete with the absolute fun it delivers on every level. If you're looking for two hours of entertainment with action, adventure, and humor; Pacific Rim crushes the competition under it's rocket fist this summer.
4.5 out of 5