Pacific Rim is a love letter by Guillermo del Toro to a legion of films that clearly inspired him to become a filmmaker. Yet, it is still an original cinematic moment. Pacific Rim soars above all the other summer “blockbusters” that seek to be the next film that is truly fresh and dominates the season where Hollywood makes most of its money.
We would even argue that the Pacific Rim trailer and its subsequent marketing efforts could have used a teaser where the true nature of the film is displayed.
The massive-in-scope tale is at its heart not as much about the monstrous aliens who invade us from the Pacific Ocean and the giant robots (called Jaegers) we build to combat them. It is a story of brotherhood and sisterhood that resonates stronger than ever, despite the threat of the entire human race being destroyed.
Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) is Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket and we meet him in the film’s opening moments as narrator. We learn that aliens did not come from the stars above to enslave or worse, destroy completely. In fact, the Kaiju (as they are called) arose from a fault in the Pacific Ocean and promptly did their best to completely trash all the coastal cities along the… Pacific Rim.
The world's nations, unable to squash the monster threat using traditional means, worked together to create robots that are as large and even more powerful than the dinosaur-like creatures that seem indestructible. These massive war machines only work best when two pilots meld minds and operate the titan as one… and it was then that we started winning the war.
But then, something changed and our entire existence was inches from demolition.
The story picks up five years later and Hunnam is a changed man. Idris Elba is Stacker Pentecost, the man who runs the Jaeger operation and he -- despite the overt warning signs -- wants Hunnam back in the pilot’s seat after that tragedy that altered everything sent him to the sidelines.
It is through his “return” to the fighting ranks that the audience learns how the band of brothers and sisters who fight these monsters foster the exact strength that gives humans an advantage over their attackers.
In particular, the chemistry between Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi (who plays Mako Mori) gives Pacific Rim its soul. The two are paired together as pilots of a storied Jaeger and what seems like on paper is a disaster waiting to happen, in fact could be what turns the tide of the battle.
Also, Charlie Day is a monster… of talent! He provides not only the humor for the film, but also its scientific groundwork that only adds to the perception of peril. But, it is his scenes with Ron Perlman that truly pop. We even want a spin-off movie with just those two!
Our Pacific Rim review finds that the relationship between the pilots and those who support them in the effort to save humankind is the real reason to see the film. But, the massiveness of it is pretty awesome.
Del Toro has crafted a movie experience that recalls Jurassic Park and Independence Day in terms of its breadth and their ability to put large numbers of people in the seats. When the Kaiju and Jaegers battle, the sound and fury of the visuals combine to craft an experience (in 3D) that draws its audience into the war and thus increases its ability to transfer the emotional cost of the spectacle onscreen.