Main cast: Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Idris Elba (General Stacker Pentecost), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), Charlie Day (Dr Newt Geiszler), Burn Gorman (Dr Hermann Gottlieb), Ron Perlman (Hannibal Chau), Max Martini (Hercules “Herc” Hansen), Rob Kazinsky (Chuck Hansen), Clifton Collins Jr (Ops Tendo Choi), and Diego Klattenhoff (Yancy Beckett)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Robots versus Kaiju! How can I resist? Well, despite having the normally dependable Guillermo del Toro helming things, Pacific Rim turns out to be pretty average for the most part.
Okay, there is trouble on Earth. A huge fissure opens at the bottom of sea, and since then, all the monsters normally seen in Godzilla movies and the like start coming out from it to attack various cities. These are the Kaiju, and eventually, a coalition of countries (guess which ones – they are the same ones that form coalitions in every movie that revolves around global catastrophes) come together to create robots called Jaegers to combat the Kaiju threat. Two pilots man a Jaeger via some kind of neural link, and both pilots are also mentally linked to one another – all the better to coordinate their decisions and actions, of course.
Our hero Raleigh Becket is the co-pilot of Gipsy Danger (don’t ask me about the spelling), and together with his brother Yancy, they are one of the best among the Jaeger pilot duos out there. Well, until a Kaiju manages to do a feign death sneak attack on them and ends up killing Yancy. Despite experiencing his brother’s death throes, Raleigh manages to single-handedly take down the Kaiju. The resulting trauma sees him walking away to become some construction worker in Alaska.
In the years since then, the Kaiju squad is becoming sneakier, and eventually more and more Jaegers are decimated by them. The world leaders decide to ditch the Jaeger to… build walls around the coastal cities instead. You can guess how well that works, I’m sure. General Stacker Pentecost, the commanding officer of the Jaegers, are told to relocate to the last Jaeger base in Hong Kong and look into dismantling the program while the rest of world focuses on wall building. The General doesn’t take the news too well, and decides to ignore the big bosses in order to carry out his own plan: to send the remaining few Jaegers out to bomb the fissure from where the Kaiju monsters come from, sealing it off for good. Of course, he needs Raleigh to be part of that team.
Raleigh is naturally reluctant to go back, but hey, the world needs him, especially when the monsters start tearing through the supposedly impregnable and indestructible walls with no effort. But can he and the ragtag crew of remaining pilots, plus the General’s adopted daughter Mako (who will be drifting for the first time) accomplish what seems like a suicide mission? Will all the foreign characters bar the leading lady die in an effort to ensure that the white hero stay safe to the very end? What do you think?
The problem with Pacific Rim lies, mostly, in how it fails to capture the grandeur of a monster versus mecha fight. It’s the bane of modern special effects: the Kaiju monsters here look very fake – at times very plastic, at other times looking like they are generated completely from a software – and despite the brutality of some of the fights, I never get the feeling that I am seeing something that is really epic. But worse, these fights mostly take place in the early and tail end of the movie. For a very long time, the movie focuses on very stereotypical characters rehashing played-out, done-many-times-already angst and issues, and I’ve seen all of this many times before. Hence, I’m bored. Also, who dies, why they die, how they die – much of all this is predictable because the movie is about 85% made of clichés. Charlie Hunnam is nice to look at, especially when he isn’t wearing anything above his waist, but his character and the rest of them are all forgettable one-note types.
Also, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman seem to be in some kind of contest or something to see who can overact to a most embarrassing degree. The rest of the cast is pretty laidback in comparison, so the three characters played by these gentlemen feel like they have walked in from a completely different movie altogether.
For the most part, Pacific Rim is not a terrible movie – just a surprisingly lifeless one. Next time, less focus on the humans, more on the boss fights, please.