When Optimus Met Godzilla…
Pacific Rim is that movie you created in your head as a kid when you sat on your bedroom floor and bashed your robot toy and your monster toy together. No more, no less. Whether or not that is the kind of movie you would like to see brought to life by state-of-the-art special effects will ultimately determine whether or not you enjoy the movie.
As the movie opens, we are informed that giant monsters known as Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beasts”) have found their way to Earth through a portal that opened up in trenches of the Pacific Ocean. These monsters made their way to the surface where they demolished major cities. It quickly became clear that the human race would need to come up with some new kind of weapon if they were to stand a chance of survival, and thus the governments of the planet united and built giant robots called Jaegers (German for “hunters”) to defend our cities.
These robots are piloted by two-person teams and the pilots are mentally connected through their memories making it easier for them to work together. The bond has its negative effects, too, and when pilot Raleigh Becket’s partner and brother Yancy is taken and killed by one of the Kaiju, he is still emotionally connected and feels his brother’s pain and fear. After spending the next five years doing odd jobs, Raleigh is recruited back to the Jaeger program by his old boss, who needs his help on a mission to stop the Kaiju attacks for good.
When it comes to the human characters and their relationships, it does not get any more clichéd than Pacific Rim. That by itself is not a problem. No one walked into this movie hoping for an engrossing human drama. No, they came to see giant robots fight giant monsters. The problem is that the movie spends far too much time focusing on the human characters, a problem that also plagued the Transformers movies. At one point, it feels like we have gone a full hour without any robot-on-monster action and that is far too much time to focus on the movie’s weakest and least interesting element.
The movie is definitely at its best when the oversized battles are being waged. The special effects in Pacific Rim are some of the best ever seen and the fight scenes certainly live up to their billing. Both the Kaiju and the Jaegers are creatively designed and super cool to look it. I especially enjoyed how the monsters were original, but still felt familiar, such as the giant beast that looked like a gorilla on massive steroids. The Jaegers battle them using some creative weapons, ranging from Metroid-like plasma beams to the biggest swords you’ll ever see. It’s also fun watching the Jaegers use found weapons like giant ships or shipping containers to battle their foes.
The only real negative to the action scenes is the fact that so many of them take place at night and are often obscured by water, either rainfall or the ocean waves. Of course, as far as modern computer effects technology has come, there are still limitations and the darkness and water were most likely intentionally used to mask these limitations. But is it too much to ask for just one extended fight scene in the daytime?
That’s getting a little nitpicky, of course, and one could go crazy nitpicking a movie like this. After all, the plot holes are as big as the Kaiju, if not bigger. No, this is the kind of movie that audiences would do best going into expecting it to be nothing other than what it is: a sci-fi fantasy B-movie with special effects far beyond anything those guys making these kinds of movies in the 1950s could ever have imagined. Okay, to be fair, they probably did imagine it.
Pacific Rim is rated PG-13 for “sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language.” The language is minimal, but the action does get intense and may scare younger viewers.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Pacific Rim.