Friday, August 2, 2013

Pacific Rim Review

When the trailers for Pacific Rim (2013) were released, it looked like it could have some potential. Once the movie hit theaters I kept hearing people say it was like Power Rangers for grownups. While Power Rangers is a bit hard to take seriously, the idea of Power Rangers for grownups sounded flipping awesome! Now that I've seen Pacific Rim, I think I can agree with the Power Rangers analogy.
When legions of monstrous creatures known as Kaiju, start rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are linked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes - a washed up former pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mandkind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and directed Pacific Rim. Near as I can figure del Toro saw some Power Rangers episodes or an old Godzilla movie and went, "Bah! I can do better than that!" The movie starts out giving us a Lord of the Rings style prologue, a very quick summary of everything that has happened leading up to the beginning of the main story. We hear there's a portal at the bottom of the ocean, it took three days for tanks and fighter jets to take down the first monster, then after the second monster a new weapon had to be devised, and then describes why two pilots are needed to operate the giant robots. Really it's not too hard to take this prologue as it is; there really isn't anything so ridiculous (bearing in mind this is high end sci-fi) that we roll our eyes in exasperation. We accept it and then look forward to seeing these two monsters duke it out.
And duke it out they do! Really, the draw to see Pacific Rim is to see huge monsters fight. Was there any other reason to watch this movie? I can't think of one! While I don't normally like to use this cliché adverb, the monster fights are epic! The fights are drawn out, not short and quick; they have a massive scale, not just a brawl in a small arena; and they are intense. The movement for both the Kaiju and the Jeagers are stunning. They don't move quickly and effortlessly. The way they are animated gives them a strong sense of mass and weight. They move slowly as if heavily labored under their own weight. You really feel the scale of these things. That comes from a good director who can frame the action well. Yeah, we know they are big, but the camera work is so beautifully done that you are simply stunned by the enormity of the Kaiju and Jeagers. They aren't just big, they are colossal! I don't think we ever get to see them fit into a single shot. This shows some excellent camera work and directing.
So, there are some human characters in Pacific Rim believe it or not. Most were pretty standard characters. Becket is basically everything you'd expect from a washed up former pilot; tough and world weary. That's about all that character has going for him. He serves his purpose well and that's all he did. Mori was more interesting; she has a past, a desire to prove herself, and personal obstacles to overcome. then there is Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the commanding officer of the Jaeger program. He's a hardcore mentor character that whips our two heroes into shape; you can't have any doubts about this guy since he's such a competent and strong leader. My favorite characters were Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). They provide some much needed levity and comic relief; they have polar opposite personalities and disagree on all their research. They still play an important role in the story. There really aren't any characters that are awkwardly placed in the story or who don't serve a purpose, which leaves me thinking they are reasonably well rounded characters.
Guillermo del Toro has made another visually striking movie that is absolutely fun to watch. It is some high end sci-fi, but it's not so outlandish that we find it hard to take seriously. The monsters and robots are beautifully animated to make them seem as realistic as possible. The characters are pretty decent, the script flows well and reminds me of Independence Day a little bit, and those fight scenes are nothing short of epic. I highly recommend catching Pacific Rim in theaters if you can, this movie was made to be seen on the big screen. I didn't think I was going to enjoy as much as I did, but I think this is worth owning a copy of once it's available on Blu-Ray.

Do you have a favorite monster movie? What is it and why did you like that one in particular so much? Comment below and tell me all about it!

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