Powered by sophisticated special effects, breathtaking action, a straightforward yet captivating story, and trustworthy ensemble performances, “Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim” is colossal entertainment that will blow your mind over and over again.
In the not-too-distant future, enormous monsters referred to as “kaiju” emerge from a mysterious portal embedded in a crevasse in the Pacific Ocean, unleashing immeasurable havoc that claims countless lives and renders Earth defenseless.
In response to this threat, “Jaegers” — gigantic robots, which are operated by two pilots whose minds are connected via a neural bridge — are created to take the fight to the enemy.
And yet, as the years pass and the war continues to ravage the planet, even the Jaegers find themselves outmatched and outgunned by creatures that hardly anyone understands.
With the clock ticking closer to doomsday and hordes of kaiju preparing to wipe out every living being on Earth, humanity decides to make its last stand.
“Massive” is the only word I can think of to describe the size of the film’s visuals, and director Guillermo del Toro has no shortage of ideas on what he can do with the effects. It would be difficult for any moviegoer not to gaze upon the Jaegers with awe as they do battle with the kaiju, making the theater tremble with excitement as metal meets flesh in an eye-popping opera of spectacle.
I was impressed by the intricate designs of the robots, and witnessing the monsters rise out of the raging seas is both a beauty to marvel and a terror to dread.
As for the action-packed element, there are plenty of memorable sequences to go around. Watching the titanic Jaegers go toe-to-toe with the vicious kaiju transforms you into a kid that can’t get enough of the excitement he or she is seeing and wants more. One set piece worth mentioning is the Hong Kong three-way fight between the Gipsy Danger Jaeger and the Leatherback and Otachi kaiju — that scene alone is a spectacular feast for the eyes no moviegoer should miss out on.
The story is, for the most part, to the point in terms of what direction it seeks to travel; no unnecessary complications or artificial developments get in the way.
That being said, “Pacific Rim” is not just about robots and monsters fighting; it’s more about people facing the demons they’ve suppressed and trusting each other to fight a common enemy. This theme, as represented by the chemistry between Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), instills an emotional intensity in what could’ve just as easily been a hollow big-budget movie.
Anyone who pays attention to del Toro’s casting style knows he’s not one for star power, eschewing big names and opting for people who can bring his vision to life. Such a tradition is a risky move for a summer blockbuster of this scope, but the director’s faith in his actors pays off in the form of believable, organic performances.
Charlie Hunnam brings an everyman quality to Raleigh, giving audiences all the more reason to want to root for him to join the rest of humanity in their efforts to defeat the kaiju. Rinko Kikuchi, who portrays Mako, exudes unparalleled strength and fury, which results in her finding a power within herself that allows her to realize her purpose in a time of chaos and death.
Idris Elba’s leadership qualities are defined by his unflappable demeanor, as well as the penetrating commands he gives to his fellow men and women to make sure the mission proceeds as planned. “Irrepressible” doesn’t even begin to define Charlie Day, who wears his scientist character’s thirst for knowledge like a glove and embraces his inner geek/nerd. Longtime del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman chews scenery in his role of black market kaiju organs dealer Hannibal Chau; you’ll know who he is once he steps into view and starts talking.
Feel the might of the Jaegers facing off against the kaiju as you walk up to the ticket booth to experience “Pacific Rim” in its purest form. Del Toro has made an exceptional summer blockbuster, one that will only keep moviegoers excited even after the credits have finished rolling.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language.
Run time: 2 hours and 11 minutes
Playing: In general release