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Sunday, July 14, 2013

PACIFIC RIM REVIEW


About The Movie:

In Pacific Rim we are greeted by an imminent future in which humanity has been besieged by giant monsters known as “Kaiju,” which emerge from a dimensional rift deep beneath the Pacific Ocean in order to wreak havoc on humanity. To combat this threat, humanity comes together to create “Jaegers,” giant robots controlled by two mind-linked pilots.


At first, the Jaegers seem like the perfect deterrent for the Kaiju menace; but when the monsters start getting smarter and deadlier – and Jaegers begin falling quicker than they can be rebuilt – mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. Our last hope lies with the desperate plan of Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and his handful of remaining Jaeger pilots, including war-worn veteran  Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), an unlikely pair who may prove to be the best pilot team the world has ever seen.

What Is Good/Bad About The Movie:

To its credit, what Pacific Rim gets right is what many other large sci-fi films garble badly. Del Toro and Travis Beacham's script does a wonderful, efficient job of setting up this world, in which enormous monsters-- called kaiju-- have risen from the sea and humanity has built giant robots-- called jaegers-- to fight them. The best twist of all is the way the jaegers are operating, requiring two pilots to link their brains in a "drift" and operate the machine together, standing side by side and moving in unison-- like a really complicated, really high-stakes version of Microsoft Kinect. Raleigh Becket and his brother (Diego Kalttenhoff) were two of the best pilots until one spectacular action scene at the beginning puts their partnership to an end, and five years later, with the jaeger program about to be retired in favor of giant ocean-blocking walls, Raleigh is brought back into action and paired up with rookie co-pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) for one last shot at saving humanity.

And unlike Michael Bay's Transformers movies, or even last year's Prometheus, which seem not to know how ridiculous they look when taking themselves so seriously, Pacific Rim embraces its pulp, from the out-there names to the clanging fight scenes, which will inspire glee and applause form virtually anyone who ever crashed their action figures together. It is not easy to make the robots and monsters look all that different from one another, and though things can get murky when there's more than one of each on the scene (why oh why does every action scene take place at night in the rain?), the one-on-one confrontations carry great weight and clarity-- you see the jaeger punch a kaiju in its big belly, or the terrifying glowing mouth of one kaiju descend toward hapless civilians. None of it is as clear and striking as it ought to be Pacific Rim is, sadly, no exception to the modern norm of chaotic action, but each big scene has one or two great moments. I know, that's not as much as I was hoping for either.
Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost who is the most dynamic character in Pacific Rim, and seems to get the most complete and engaging character arc of the whole ensemble. Elba (by now well established for his talent to stand out even in bit roles – see: Prometheus or Thor) walks away owning every one of the many scenes he’s in, which is great for him.
Subplots involving Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) and Burn Gorman (Dark Knight Rises) as dueling expert scientists in the Kaiju field – or Max Martini (The Unit) and Robert Kazinsky (True Blood) as a conflicted father/son Jaeger team – similarly make good use of talented actors, at the expense of a focused, streamlined story. Hellboy star Ron Perlman exists in this movie purely to ham it up and does so admirably. (P.S.: don’t leave the theater before a special mid-credits scene I did.)

Overall Grade: C+

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