Friday, July 12, 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

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 


SFF said...

I really looked forward to reviews in general on this film and yours as always very specifically Franco.

I loved your commentary on Bay. I think you're exactly right. Much of the way he puts together those Transformers films leave me cold. They are just loud clunky nearly artless in their grace and at least del Toro is all about the art behind the excitement. I look forward to his eye on the genre as you mention.

There is plenty of anime source material here too regarding the pilots of these robots but I do like your Godzilla analogies too. It's certainly an element to what is going on regarding the kaiju for this film.

But the psychological connecting ideas are nothing new. It's been around in some great anime series that are decades old (much of it lifted). Still, I love that del Toro had the guts and the balls to do something with it in live action with such razor sharp accuracy. I'm basing all of this upon your review and the trailers I've seen ad nauseum.

And finally, I love your closing question. It's a great one to consider. But I do believe Edwards has nothing to fear because despite being a live action mecha vs monster film, Godzilla will look entirely different and should look entirely different and feel different. So I'm not worried about it at all.

But your review has me really excited to see a film I was kind of excited about. Great enthusiasm felt for this one. Cheers pal.

Franco Macabro said...

You'll notice the difference in the way the scenes with the robots are handled, where Bay's Transformers leave you cold and confused, Del Toro has color, texture, depth and excitement. I loved that you could actually understand what is going on on screen, its not a big old blurry mess like in Bays films.

Yeah, the melding of minds was also in Avatar, still, I liked that element of the mind meld between the Jaeger pilots and the robots, I've never seen a movie where they handle the whole thing about driving giant robots in such a credible fashion. It's a film filled with fantastical sci-fi elements, yet Del Toro projects it all in a credible fashion.

Looking forward to Gareth's Godzilla's, I'm just curious as to how they'll make it different. Still, I'm mega excited for it! You know I'm a huge Godzilla fan!

Thanks for commenting, I certainly I'm excited for all the positive buzz around Pacific Rim, I have a feeling good word of mouth will take it as far as it has to go.

jimmie t. murakami said...

Its incredible to think that a frivolous and flippant piece of unwatchable garbage like "Grown Ups 2" might actually be challenging the greatness of "Pacific Rim" at the North American box office this week-end. By rights "Pacific Rim" should make $120 million this week-end and "Grown Ups 2" should make precisely nothing, but unfortunately that probably wont be the case, the fickleness and sheer idiocy of the American movie going public never ceases to amaze me.

Chris Hewson said...

I can't wait to see this!

So is this movie depressing at all? Because from what I've seen, I LOVE fun goofy kaiju movies, but not so much the serious ones, because I find the extreme death toll and collateral damage that'd occur in the monster attacks kinda depressing.

Franco Macabro said...

Jimmy:You might be right, but I hope the good word of mouth gives Pacific Rim the push it needs! Let's see, I know I'll be checking it out again.

Chris Hewson: Well, collateral damage has always been a part of Kaiju movies, I mean, Godzilla always fights in the middle of the city and destroys a whole lot of Japan...Pacific Rim has fights that take place in the middle of the city, but also ones that take place in the middle of the ocean, which I thought was a smart move, get the monsters before they reach the city. But hey Chris, if you love Kaiju movies....this one is a gift from the cinematic gods made especially for you.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Francisco, i have to say that i whole-heartedly and unreservedly agree with everything that Jimmie said, Adam Sandler and Kevin James are both murderously and embarrassingly unfunny talentless morons, and rubbish like them simply should not be besmirching and polluting the opening week-end of a truly magnificent film like "Pacific Rim" ! ! !.

jimmie t. murakami said...

A $170 million budget, that means it needs $330 to $340 million worldwide in order to break even, it should be able to achieve that, if it doesn`t theres no justice.

eddie lydecker said...

Chris, always remember, the kind of astonishing scenes of destruction that you see in movies like "Pacific Rim" are what cinema at its best should always be all about, dont knock it my old mate FOR ANY REASON ! ! !.

Franco Macabro said...

Jervais Jimmie and Eddie: I totally agree I hope that Pacific Rim wins the fight at the box office and I think it should have no problems making its money back, unless of course the public unanimously reject the film in which case it'll be a total disaster, but I doubt it good word-of-mouth will keep this one alive I think.

Franco Macabro said...

Jervais Jimmie and Eddie: I totally agree I hope that Pacific Rim wins the fight at the box office and I think it should have no problems making its money back, unless of course the public unanimously reject the film in which case it'll be a total disaster, but I doubt it good word-of-mouth will keep this one alive I think.

Jack Thursby said...

This sounds good. Out of interest, is there an answer to the question of "what is it that these creatures are hoping to achieve by laying waste to our world"?

You don't have to spoil but just curious if it is addressed or left for a sequel?

Also, just reviewed Robot Jox. May be laughable and goofy but it's a lot of fun too.

Unknown said...

Nice review! I quite enjoyed this film as well. Good to see Del Toro back in the director's chair!

Nice reference to VOLTRON! I had forgotten about that.

Yeah, this is everything you could want from a giant robots vs. giant monsters movie. My only minor quibble is that I wish the battles weren't all at night. Makes me wonder if they were covering for a lack of impressive special effects? I know there is a battle glimpsed briefly during the day, but a full-blown one would've been nice.

I actually saw this in 3D and it looked very good to me. Even with post-conversion there still was some pretty cool 3D effects and I think that this is probably the best film I've seen with 3D applied after the fact.

Dan O. said...

Good review Francisco. I had a good time with this movie when it was about the robots and the monsters. But when it got to the characters, I lost a lot of interest.

SFF said...

Hi Jack,
There are indeed reasons for everything. There's more to this than you expect my friend.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Crack for the eyes is the best description I've heard of Pacific Rim to date. A visual feast, like all his movies.
-Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr

Franco Macabro said...

Jack: They actually completely answer that question, hope you enjoy the film, dont worry, no spoilers for you! I read your review for Robot Jox, its strange because I have written my review for that very same film, I think we saw it around the same time! I agree, its goofy fun, I havent been on the blogosphere much because i am currently on summer vacation which is the reason why you havent seen any these past couple of days....i will return on the 31st! Thats a promise!

Dan: I enjoyed the whole enchilada, seen it twice and liked both parts of..the movie, especially the whole thing between Pentacost and Mako.

Maurice: I also gave that description to The Avengers, these movies offer so much visually! Normally, these movies require more than one viewing for me, already seen Pacific Rim twice!

L.A James said...

No film review this week?

Franco Macabro said...

I am currently on vacation but will be returning with my usual onslaught of reviews on July 31st! See you then!

Hyman said...



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