Pacific Rim– Movie Review
Director Guillermo del Toro has said that he wanted his movie Pacific Rim to be “a beautiful poem to giant monsters,” and boy, did he nail it. Though the non-action sequences in the movie suffer from some cringe-worthy dialogue and acting, Pacific Rim is on the whole a thing of lyrical violent awesomeness.
As you can surmise from the trailer, Pacific Rim depicts a near future where giant alien monsters (kaiju) appear in a portal deep in the Pacific Ocean. The world’s nations build giant fighting robots (Jaegers), and begin to defeat the monsters- but then the monsters get bigger, start appearing more frequently, and start defeating the Jaegers. Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) is a washed-up Jager pilot ace with demons in his past; he’s called back to service by his former CO( Idris Elba), who is now trying to salvage the last four Jaegers on the planet for a final push to defeat the kaiju. But can everyone come together before it’s too late?
The visual effects and art departments here deserve standing ovations for their work. They created not one, but at least a dozen different writhing, screeching kaiju that look as realistic as a giant space alien can.
Perhaps more importantly, del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro sure know how to “film” a giant robot-alien fight for all its worth. The monsters are constantly glimpsed through chaos and from the point of view of their victims- drivers, pedestrians, fisherman, and the Jaeger pilots themselves. We see half the creature’s face as it chomps a bridge, dashes around a skyscraper, or gets illuminated for just a moment by lightning. It’s pretty awesome. It might sound odd to call any part of Pacific Rim “restrained,” but del Toro does not force the appearance of the kaiju on the viewers, and the action is never muddled or confused.
The director even spares some visual dazzle for the non-action scenes. One of the most moving sections of the film involves two of the pilots getting lost in a memory of a kaiju attack. (Did I mention that mind-melds are central to the story? This seemed very arbitrary at first, but didn’t bother me as much as the movie went on.) The camera spins around Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) in full battle gear, as the world around her fades away. Raleigh, also battle-suited, interlopes in the remembered scene. The close-up shot of the young girl crouching and covering her ears as the world falls apart behind her is one of those beautiful, terrifying scenes that says more with what it doesn’t show than what it does.
So all of this excuses the constant bellowing and soap-opera level dialogue coming from the main characters, a great cast put to poor use. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are spared some of this by virtue of being the comic relief (as the bumbling researchers who help save the day). But Gorman’s physicality was so over-the-top, I began to wonder if the whole film was meant to have this heightened style, and it just didn’t translate to the dramatic scenes.
Did you see Pacific Rim? What did you think?