Does this mammoth live up to its epic expectations? Yes. Yes, it very much does.
Guillermo Del Toro is known for his monsters. Starting with Mimic, and progressing all the way to the last Hellboy, Del Toro has a knack for creating something masterful from the most repugnant.
Del Toro shined with Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), the story of a little girl stuck in war torn Spain. With her only escape being into an imaginary sub-world, where she’s a princess with the power to make everything right again. If you haven’t seen it, it’s more than worth your time. With Labyrinth, came the peak of Del Toro’s creature design – until Pacific Rim.
Pacific Rim, starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, follows a retired Jaeger pilot (the name for the giant ass-kicking robots) , Hunnam, who’s called in for one last job as the end of times beckons at the front door of the world. He’s forced to “Drift” with a new partner, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, who easily is the weakest link, acting wise, in this movie.), – “Drifting” is the mind-meld the pilots have to do in order to operate the boxing-behemoth – Mori is a survivor of a Kaiju attack and hell bent on revenge.
It’s all very cliche, in its endeavors. Both pilots are out for revenge, one is the budding “new gal”, and the other is a hardened veteran, who’s seen it all and is slowly becoming “too old for this shit.” Pacific Rim is very much a buddy cop movie, wrapped in a monster movie and deep fried in every episode of Gundham, ever. This is said with the utmost admiration. Although cliche, Rim, manages its quips with reverence, even when you’re expecting Idris Elba to scream “BECAUSE, TODAY IS OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!” when he’s giving his “moving” final battle speech that seems to be in any, and all movies involving anyone fighting back against a common enemy.
Side note: This does raise the question, Maybe most of these people could get shit done a lot quicker if they didn’t spend time rallying the troops? And, is there really time for any of that in a real combat situation? Like, if a series of 600-foot tall monsters are crushing cities, do you really have the time to “cancel the apocalypse”? – as Elba screams during is rally speech. Literally just like Pullman in Independence Day, it’s fantastic.
Rim does very little wrong. It has a cohesive storyline that, as any monster movie, is a little contrived and over-explained. But, with two hours and 11 minutes of film, it can’t all be Kaiju Vs. Jaeger (Big Ass Monster Vs. Big Ass Robot.). You obviously have the sub-plots of people selling pieces of Kaiju on the black market – this plays into everything with a fine key – with a surprise appearance by Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman.
Pacific Rim, never forgets what it is. It’s big ass robots kicking the hell out of big ass monsters. It has beats to involve a love story, but it holds that till the finale. When the world is slowly coming to a rubble and ash filled end, then there really is no time for anything, other then monster-ass-whooping.
Aside from Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim is easily Del Toro’s best film. Yes it has the obvious cliches that come with movies like this – hey, at least there’s no nest of eggs in the locker rooms of Madison Square Garden – but they’re made a lot more acceptable by someone like Charlie Day, of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia fame, when he’s playing the fast talking, overly-invested scientist, kind of like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, well, more exactly like Goldblum in ID4. Rim, almost to a tee follows the formula of ID4, which isn’t a bad formula, but as previously stated, there’s parts where you’re expecting a robot to yell “Welcome to Earf!” after knocking down a Kaiju and Idris Elba is essentially Bill Pullman, but in Jaeger General form.
Del Toro is a phenomenal director, and much like his other films he’s making it from the heart.
He’s not chasing a summer blockbuster with this, and he’s not trying to sell toys. Yes, there will be toys, and if it doesn’t bomb this weekend behind the juggernaut that will be Grown Ups 2, it has the opportunity to be on the enjoyment level that ID4 was at so long ago. No way will it reach the box-office numbers that ID4 made, but if you’re looking for that perfect summer movie where a lot of things blow up and it doesn’t feel as realistic or overwhelming as things like White House Down, which seems to be further perpetuating this theme of world destruction, then go watch some Jaegers punch the shit out of some Kaiju and be happy.