Visionary director Guillermo del Toro has finally done it, folks. For once the studios have invested a boatload of cash into a director that is actually worthy of it and the result is an absolutely massive film, unlike anything before it. Pacific Rim is the biggest film not just of 2013, but of the past decade — blowing all three of Michael Bay‘s Transformers films out of the water with ease, while actually packing an engaging story to boot. This is what the definition of summer blockbuster should be. The bar has just been raised.
In the near future a portal between dimensions is opened somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Giant creatures known as Kaijus have started invading heavily populated areas of the world, leaving a trail of destruction and disaster. The humans have all pooled together their resources to build the Jaeger program, which are these giant machines built and operated by humans to help defend the planet from these deadly sea creatures.
The war has been waging for years now. There’s been ups and downs, but now things are taking a dark turn for the worst and Military higher-up Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) must now call upon literally every single living Jaeger pilot to help close the portal before the Jaeger funding gets closed off and before the Kaijus completely take over the planet.
One pilot he specifically seeks out is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). Becket ditched the Jaeger program after he lost his brother in battle. He’s now a drifter that takes the odd construction job to survive.
Becket is recruited and paired with a trainee by the name of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) to pilot a rebuilt Jaeger in hopes of saving the world.
The stakes are at an all-time high in Pacific Rim. Things seriously couldn’t get any bigger or be more important than defending the world from complete annihilation.
Director Guillermo del Toro almost does too good of a job establishing that within the film’s first fifteen minutes. The situation is clearly laid out on the screen as del Toro and writer Travis Beacham catch the audience up to speed through a series of detailed moments that help explain what Kaijus and Jaegers are, while also describing just how important this last-ditch effort to save the world really is.
Pacific Rim instantly becomes a million times better than most big-budget summer blockbusters, because it pays close attention to detail. Don’t get me wrong; the film is silly and dumb when it needs to be (in good nature), but it knows exactly how to keep a brain on its shoulders, while still entertaining with endless amounts of high-quality action.
Destruction and disaster fill up most of the film’s better moments, because del Toro somehow managed to snag a rumored $200 million dollar budget for the film and he wastes not a single penny. Cities are turned into giant arenas as these skyscraper-sized robots battle it out with a wide variety of different-sized sea creatures known as Kaijus.
Buildings suddenly act as corner posts and bridges as ropes for what appears to be a large world-size boxing ring. Jaegers pick up full-sized tanker boats and bash Kaijus over the head, much like a professional wrestler would smash a chair over the top of his opponent’s skull.
The film is absolutely massive! Never before has the scale or scope been this vast and yet not once does del Toro sacrifice the on-screen beauty for endless amounts of explosions. Things get blown up quite frequently in the film, but every single blow has a purpose and is felt with an equal amount of emotional tension.
Those worried about the film’s human side of things can stop right now. There’s tons of human emotion in the film. The film is ultimately about trust, teamwork and overcoming the odds and remaining positive during the darkest of hours. Guillermo del Toro does a great job focusing on the connection or bond that must be formed between two Jaeger pilots before successfully engaging in battle.
This key element is given more time than one might think, because del Toro understands that human connection is essential for a film like this to succeed as something more than a brainless popcorn flick. There’s plenty of brain and heart in Pacific Rim.
Charlie Hunnam is the film’s main character, yet his performance suggest that he’s more of a supporting role. There’s nothing to not like about his character, but Hunnam is still a little rough around the edges, especially when sharing the screen with someone as seasoned as Idris Elba. Hunnam does a fine job giving the film its focus character that has plenty to fight for, but Idris Elba‘s slightly-mysterious turn as the film’s head Military leader is what draws most of the attention.
Elba’s character isn’t revealed in detail until the film’s third act, but his powerful speeches and constant hard-ass approach gives the film most of its backbone.
Charlie Day must not be forgotten as the film’s primary comedic relief. He’s usually a hard actor to not get annoyed by, yet his moments in Pacific Rim are always innocent and funny. He does represent the film’s goofier and much lighter side — that is mostly geared towards the younger kids that are going to eat this film up, but he does no damage to the adults that are looking to chuckle while watching a film that isn’t afraid to show serious disaster without losing its hopeful tone and ambitions.
Pacific Rim is about hope and rebuilding in the ashes. It’s an incredibly positive film that sends some loud and clear messages without ever having to become dark and gritty like so many other summer films. Those that liked The Avengers‘ lighter and more fun take on comic book movies are going to absolutely fall in love with Pacific Rim, because it has all of the pluses of a big-budget studio film and not a single one of the minuses.
Pacific Rim is a stunning achievement for director Guillermo del Toro. He’s finally been given the budget that he deserves and the result is one of the biggest films that I’ve ever seen. Pacific Rim is fucking massive and yet still highly detailed. There’s a beating heart at the core and a fully functional brain up top, making Pacific Rim one of the brighter moments of the year and quite possibly one of the best summer action films ever.
*If you’re going to see this film then by all means spend the extra money on a proper IMAX 3D viewing. The film is all about scope and size and the larger screen and added dimension only help you fully experience the film.*
Pacific Rim – 8.5/10