Title: Pacific Rim (2013)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi
Pacific Rim is the most fun I’ve had this summer so far, I mean, this 2013 summer season has been incredibly good, with big, loud, bombastic pop corn movies and it’s not easy narrowing it down to “most fun had this summer” but dammit, I had such a blast last night watching Pacific Rim that I officially declare it the most fun summer movie of 2013! And without a doubt, this is the best giant robot movie I’ve ever seen! Giant robot movies are not easy films to make because they will always involve either miniature effects work or lots of computer effects, in other words, these type of movies always require big budgets, if you don't have the money to pull off this kind of film and make it anyway, then you might end up with a goofy film like Stuart Gordon's Robot Jox (1990), which was one of the first attempts to bring a giant robot movie to the silver screen; by americans anyway. The results with Robot Jox or it's "sequel" Robot Wars (1993) were laughable at best. Then we have the Transformers movies, that while having the budget, didn't necesarilly have the best talent behind the camera. Which reminds me that as I watched this movie, a mental image of Michael Bay (the director behind the Transformers movies) furiously taking notes kept popping into my head. Yes sir ladies and gentlemen, with Pacific Rim Guillermo del Toro has just given Michael Bay an explosive class on how to make a giant robot movie work. So, what exactly made Pacific Rim such an entertaining ride?
In Pacific Rim there’s no time for building up a back story to nothing, we are thrown right smack into the middle of a world in which giant monsters are beginning to emerge from the depths of the ocean, scene one take one, giant monsters destroying the San Francisco Bridge. At first humans think that these giant monsters popping out of the ocean is something temporary, that these monsters will just go away, but soon they realize that these monsters just won’t stop coming, so the governments of the world join and create the “Jaeger” robots. These are robots gigantic in size that use different weapons to destroy the giant monsters, which by the way are referred to as ‘Kaiju’, a Japanese word that translates to ‘monster’. So the humans get all cocky because they are beating the monsters with their giant machines. But that cockiness soon fades away when even bigger monsters start to emerge from the depths of the ocean! Soon the Jaeger robots are considered a waste of money because too many millions are being lost, and too many fighters have died. The battle against the monsters is being lost! Can the dwindling Jaeger program go up against these giant creatures? And just what is it that these creatures are hoping to achieve by laying waste to our world?
Pacific Rim is Guillermo del Toro biggest movie to date, he’s worked with medium sized budgets before, for example Hellboy II (2008) cost 80 million dollars, which is the highest budget he’d worked with up to that point, but now Del Toro’s gone over the 100 million dollar mark with Pacific Rim which cost a whopping 170 million dollars! But trust me, you’ll see all that money up on the screen, this is certainly NOT one of those movies that costs 300 million dollars and you don’t see the money on the screen, nope here you’ re gonna see them, and you’re gonna be impressed. Seriously though, the effects work on this movie is simply amazing, the scope of the ideas is way bigger than any other Guillermo del Toro movie. This is the kind of director who has a lot of imagination. Right from the start of his career Guillermo del Toro has demonstrated that he is a director with true admiration and devotion to the sci-fi/horror genres. You can tell that all you need to do if you are producer is give this guy a couple of millions and he’ll bring his imagination to life on the silver screen for you, which is exactly what happened here; Pacific Rim was a project brought forth by the guys at Legendary Pictures. They searched out Guillermo del Toro to work on this project, and Guillermo del Toro made it his own. He took the script, re-worked it to his liking and placed his sci-fi loving stamp on the project. I’m so glad that it was Del Toro who ended up directing, this movie might have turned out to be a lesser film had he not been involved.
Comparisons to other films are inevitable, for example, many of you will immediately associate it with Transformers, but honestly, this movie blows all Transformers movies out of the water. The effects work alone surpasses anything that Michael Bay might have conjured up with his 200 million dollar films like Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). I give credit to Del Toro for making a far better movie with less money. For example, a great thing about Pacific Rim is that the giant robots look way more realistic, they don’t look like CGI creations, they look truly gigantic, truly massive in dimensions. And of course, I couldn’t help thinking of Godzilla films when watching this, because in all honesty, what is Pacific Rim if not Guillermo del Toro making his own Godzilla film? It’s true, I mean, to me, this is Guillermo saying okay, I’m not making a Godzilla film, but I am? I mean, the premise is the same you’d find in a Godzilla movie. Let’s see, giant monsters coming out of the depths of the oceans? Check! Humans creating robots to fight these giant monsters? Check! Human drama in the midst of it all? Check! If I had to compare this one to any of the Godzilla films, it would have to be to Godzilla AgainstMechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) which by the way are two of my favorite Godzilla films ever. On these two films the humans create a mechanical version of Godzilla to fight against the real Godzilla. The whole thing with humans driving Mechagodzilla is similar in nature to what we see in Pacific Rim. Plus, that whole element of monsters destroying buildings that is such a trademark in Godzilla films is very evident here. So what I’m saying is that any lover of Godzilla films or Kaiju films in general should be extremely happy with this film. For all intents and purposes, Pacific Rim is the biggest, most expensive and overall best ‘Kaiju’ movie ever made, and you can quote me on that one!
Guillermo del Toro is such a massive genre fan, that when he does a film, well, you can see he loves many of the things us geek boys love, and he gives us exactly what we want. For example, there’s this scene that seems to have come straight out of a Voltron cartoon! Anybody here remember that 80’s cartoon? Most of the episodes ended with a giant robot fighting monsters in space? He always cut the monsters in half with his ‘blazing sword’? Well, you’ll see something on this movie that will bring all those Voltron memories rushing right back into your brain! It also brought memories of Mazinger Z, but I’m probably talking gibberish to most of you out there now. Also, In terms of monster mayhem and destruction, this one delivers. So this movie gets an “A” on the massive destruction of public property department, but what of the human drama? This is something that is always taken in consideration when watching a Godzilla movie. We all love the monsters and the destruction, but what of the human side of the story? Sometimes in a Godzilla film the human side of the story will blow chunks and sometimes it’s quite good, the best Godzilla movies are those that deliver on both grounds. Well, I'm happy to say that Pacific Rim delivers on both grounds as far as I’m concerned. The whole thing with the Jaeger pilots connecting their brains in order to drive these robots was such a great idea! They have to share their minds and memories in order to be able to join their brains to drive these gigantic robots! So there’s this whole psychological side to the film because these pilots don’t just drive these things, they have to get inside each other’s heads! Now that’s a pretty cool concept because not only do they have to drive these robots and fight these monsters, they also gotta do battle with their own demons.
It seems I can’t stop gushing over this movie, but what can I say, I truly loved it. It’s the kind of summer film that you immediately feel the urge to see again. Word of advice though, do not see it 3-D. The 3-D was a post conversion which means that it wasn’t originally filmed with 3-D cameras; the studio converted it into a 3-D film after they made the movie, so the resulting film won’t truly be 3-D. Since most of the film takes place during the night and in the middle of a storm, I’ve read some reviewers state that the 3-D actually hinders your full enjoyment of the film because as some of you might now, 3D glasses actually makes the images darker. So my advice is watch Pacific Rim in 2-D, the film does not look any less spectacular in regular 2-D, in fact, it might actually look better. Guillermo del Toro was against the 3-D conversion thing from the get go, but you know how studios are when an opportunity to make extra cash comes along. Can’t blame them, they need to make their money back and I hope they do because I wouldn’t mind seeing another one of these. I was happy to see Guillermo del Toro making such a huge summer blockbuster, really proud to see this director come full circle, he has truly bloomed into a class A director and I applaud him for that. Now go see Pacific Rim, if movies where a drug, then Pacific Rim is crack for the eyes! Pure entertainment, you won’t be disappointed! My only question is: how is director Gareth Edwards, the director currently filming the second American Godzilla film, going to top what Guillermo Del Toro has done here?
Rating: 5 out of 5
Idris Elba (left) and Guillermo del Toro (right) talk out a scene on the set of Pacific Rim