When news was coming out last year about Guillermo del Toro‘s newest film, I wasn’t necessarily all that excited. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to make At The Mountains of Madness and that we didn’t get to see another Hellboy movie, but then a poster was released for Pacific Rim at San Diego Comic Con. It was just a couple of dudes hanging out on the shoulder or some giant robot thing to pique everyone’s interest. I mean, look at how fucking big that robot thing was! Why were these two dudes hanging out on top of it?! What the fuck is this robot thing going to do?! As the months rolled on towards the film’s release date, every single image and every single trailer hinted at just how big of a movie this was going to be, despite “Guillermo del Toro” not being a household name. Pacific Rim could’ve been any nameless big budget action movie that came out this summer, but knowing del Toro and seeing the cast that was attached, this film was easily one of my most anticipated films of the summer and it delivers in every way that you can imagine. This movie also marks the first time I have gone to see a movie at midnight on its opening day since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so I was a little nervous of a repeat of that incident. I should’ve known things would go better when I was invited by my friend DREW (whose name must only be spelled in all caps) because he’s the biggest guy I knew. In fact, he might even be a Jaeger, come to think of it.
No, they aren’t going into TRON, because TRON is coming to them, in the form of giant ass monsters.
In the not too distant future, the world has been attacked by giant, monstrous aliens. Rather than arriving by a spaceship from another planet, they are appearing from the Pacific ocean from some sort of portal from another dimension. The best hope for humanity in fighting these creatures, or “Kaiju”, are giant robotic suits, “Jaegers”, piloted by two humans sharing a psychic connection. After years of fighting, even the Jaegers have a hard time holding their own and the Jaeger program is disbanded. As the Kaiju attacks start becoming more frequent and more severe, former head of the Jaeger program Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) thinks he’s come up with a plan to put an end to it once and for all. With Jaegers and their pilots in short supply, he contacts former pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) to help put a stop to the war. Having lost his last co-pilot tragically, Raleigh is assigned an inexperienced, but incredibly talented, co-pilot named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). As Kaiju attacks intensify, scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) thinks he’s tapped into a Kaiju brain, the same way Jaeger pilots share a psychic link, to expose their actual plan. Turns out that the last hope for humanity really are the Jaegers and that they’re going to get far more than they bargained for.
Seriously, look at how fucking big that thing is!
HOLY SHIT. That’s what you say at least a hundred times while watching this movie. You see giant robotic warriors, and I mean fucking GIANT, battling these insane monsters. I know a lot of people love the Transformers movies for the surface value of robots fighting each other, but Pacific Rim outdoes all of those movies combined. Whereas the Transformers films are full of explosions and punch after punch of robot carnage, del Toro really slows down the action to give the audience an idea of the scale of the two combatants. You don’t miss a single punch, headlock, plasma cannon blast, or sword swing in every scene of every battle. Every single punch is what makes you yell “HOLY SHIT” and punch the leg of the person sitting next to you. The sheer scale and scope of this movie is what makes it so impressive. Seeing Jaegers lifting up goddamned battleships just to use as a weapon against the Kaiju is just as amazing to see in the context of the film as it was to see in the trailers. Every single Guillermo del Toro movie shows you how imaginative, innovative, and terrifying his brain really is, and his films just keep getting wilder and wilder. When he walked away from The Hobbit, I wasn’t too disappointed, because I knew how many ideas were rattling around in his head and knew that there would be a day when he got to make anything he wanted with almost no limitations, and I think Pacific Rim is the closest he’s come to that. When the film starts reaching its climax and you learn more about the inter-dimensional Kaiju and their physiology and their social structure? Holy shit, it’s nuts, and del Toro only even scratched the surface at some of the bigger things at play in that mythology. And even then, it was still based on a story by Travis Beachem, so there’s still room for del Toro to make another movie where he goes batshit crazy insane bonkers!
NO REALLY GUYS, LOOK HOW FUCKING BIG THIS STUFF IS!
But is it actually “good”? Well, yes, it is, but that really all depends on your definition of what a good movie is. I think a better way of describing the movie is that it’s incredibly satisfying. Every promise put in the film’s trailer is granted in the film as a whole. Yes, you have the action you could expect from a Jaeger vs. Kaiju battle, but you also have the comedy to juxtapose those sequences, as well as the kind of cheesy emotional connection to the characters. The film takes itself 100% seriously and there’s never any winks at the camera of just how ridiculous the concept is, as it plays as completely genuine. It raises a lot of questions about what exactly makes for a “B Movie”, something that genre fans really have to grapple with. What’s interesting is this weekend also marked the debut of Sharknado, a made for TV movie about a tornado full of sharks…I think? I don’t need to see this movie to know how lazy the filmmakers were in their formulaic combination of washed up actors, bad CGI and combination of two words. Pacific Rim is a concept that’s just as ridiculous as something like Sharknado, but there’s so much heart behind it that instead of giving a finger to the audiences that enjoy ridiculous science fiction action films, it embraces them with two giant robotic arms and gives them a high-five. I’d argue that Pacific Rim is one of the most satisfying summer blockbusters of the past few decades, rivaling the more recent The Avengers, and even going as far back as Independence Day or Armageddon. Some people might call these movies “guilty pleasure” movies, but what is there to feel guilty about? You really shouldn’t feel guilty talking about the chemistry between Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith on-screen or how funny it is to see Steve Buscemi lose his mind on an asteroid, and you sure as shit shouldn’t feel guilty about how much you laugh at Ron Perlman discussing the ins and outs of how he can turn Kaiju body parts into a profit or cheering when a CGI Kaiju is ripped in half by a CGI Jaeger. You can see that everyone involved in this movie loves these films as much as anyone out there, and there’s an authenticity to the film that you just can’t fake. If you like fun, you’ll go see Pacific Rim. If you’re stuck up and snooty, go back to ironically watching Sharknado so the rest of us can all have our fun.
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