Why Do the Humans Continue to Fight ?
Warner Bros goes back in time to give a twelve year old Guillermo Del Toro $200 million to make a movie about his toys. After he’s bought a sour stomach full of candy; the audience gets Pacific Rim. This colossal battle for the planet hits on many levels but misses the mark on one, the human level.
The basic premise is that giant monsters, called Kaiju, have transdimensionally invaded earth and are threatening an extinction level event. A new world united military has built 26-story tall robots, called Jaegers, to battle them. It’s humanity’s last days, and the survival of the world rests in the hands of tourtured ex-Jaeger pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), his equally flawed co-pilot, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and wacky scientist, Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day), along with resistance leader Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba).
Let’s talk about where this film blows the audience away, the fights. In the Jager vs Kaiju fights, Pacific Rim fills us with unadulterated childish delight. The real wonder of these effects scenes is how simple the CG camera was used. Instead of a shot where we follow a robot fist hitting a monster, cameras are only placed in parts of the scenes where unlucky spectators would find themselves, such as boats on the sea or transportation bridges. It serves to show the epic scale of the action and adds to the gravity of the situation. It succeeds in making the fights feel like they have real consequence and weight. If you see this in 3D, it’s very well converted but the foreground rain effects can sometimes impair your view of the fighting. Though overall the 3D adds actually dimension to the film visuals. The only downside about all this is that Pacific Rim gets all its emotion from these, sometimes too far between, fight scenes and not from the human characters in the film.
The film’s short comings lay with the characters we follow. Raleigh and Mako feel like a bit of a cliche in their shoehorned underlined romance plot thread, which drags out a bit too long for an ending that just doesn’t feel earned. This was a part of the story that could have been easily shortened in favor of another Kaiju/ Jager brawl or at the very least more Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman. Day and Perlman in five minutes managed to make us care more about them than we did our main protagonist. Idris Elba gives the most solid performance of the film, we believed he carried the weight of the human race on his shoulders. Pacific Rim could have easily carved out its own niche with its human element but instead it feels a bit too much like everything we’ve already seen in Independence Day and Avengers.
Overall, Pacific Rim is enjoyable falling short of epic. Visually there is an entire buffet to take in; it doesn’t feel like candy but instead protein for the eyes. Del Toro crafts a visual world with so many meticulous layers that it’s easy to find yourself lost in the gravity of humanity’s last days. But the story of the people involved makes us want to root for the Kaiju.
An enjoyable time at the movies but short of the masterpiece teased for the last few years