Remember the classic days of Godzilla? The men in detailed rubber suits battling it out in a model city as they destroy the poor city of Tokyo. While classic and still holding some charm, we have, fortunately, improved our ability to make monsters come to life. This weekend yet another tale of humans vs. monsters unfolds as Pacific Rim releases into theaters. Being a sucker for action, I can’t lie that this movie was one of the higher ups on my list for the season. So is this movie just a knock off of Transformers meets Godzilla, or have we found a movie that can stand out and shine. Read on to find out.
Action fanatics rejoice, for Pacific Rim is a movie that delivers the promise the trailers made earlier on this year. At the start of the movie, we get to see the elite weapon arsenal called the Jaegers jump into action as they battle the impressively designed, nightmarish beasts called the Kaijou. In a manner similar to Reel Steel, the titans clash it out until a victor finally stands, which also attempts to set the story up for one Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). After this battle, there is a lull in the action, with only a few fistfights, trainings segments, and new clips to momentarily satisfy your action hunger. I’ll admit this was disappointing and had felt down, but luckily the last forty minutes or so saved the film. Pacific Rim’s coup de grace is indeed the finale where the action cranks up to ten as more colossal beasts rear their ugly heads. As an epic soundtrack of battle music plays, the action cranks up to max as punches merge with epic weaponry that, yes, is a carbon copy of Transformer technology. I guess the idea pool for unique weapons has been drained I guess, but surely Warner Bros could have made their design more unique and not knock off DreamWorks creations.
Of course the action isn’t the only aspect where various movies have been pieced together. Pacific Rim’s plot contains a number of borrowed ideas that while old have been edited into a fun, albeit shallow story. Keep your eyes out for numerous science fiction references including some Independence Day, a little bit of Rocky, some Star Wars, and a few other things scenes and plot points you have seen before. Unfortunately for this film, they mistimed some events that I felt would have done better later on in the movie. The struggles of Raleigh and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) are hastily revealed before the relationship develops leaving me feeling the characters a bit flat and lacking shine. General Pentecost (Idris Elba) has a bit more to his character and has more time to hold on to his secrets, and had some conflicts that helped develop him. For me though the best character dynamics lied within Dr.’s Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and the Hansen team. The scientists of the story provide a few pieces of information to fill in the gaps, but for their rivalry reveals their character while providing laughs that help relieve some of the tension. As for the Hansen team, the characters have a tension, drama, and various other qualities that help drive some of the other character’s plots. The problem with so many character tales is some details and paths are kind of dropped or hastily tied up to make the whole plotline rather pointless. Still you develop some emotional link, or drift in this case, with the characters.
As for the graphic and design, Pacific Rim is beautiful in this department, its visuals rivaling the technological feats of Transformers. The robots move exactly as I would imagine, the weapons unfolding with that metallic edge and crunch. I also loved the design of the Kaijou, well defined in their skin texture and color, and impressively created to show off evolutionary qualities in their alterations to their basic forms. Yes they are a generic shape and body structure, but there are clear differences to help differentiate the monsters from one another. When these worlds collide, the action was amazingly entertaining, as the combat involved more than a simple laser blast to the head, or an overdramatic thrust through the spark chamber. The battle between the colossi run smoothly as well, the two forces moving fluidly, only glitching when some hindrance occurs. Despite the dynamic creatures and designs though, one thing the staff failed was balancing the other robots into the equation. The other Jaeger bots had so much potential, but they had little screen time and in truth limited moves compared to Optimus Prime, I mean Gypsy. Gypsy was a beautiful robot, but come on don’t be like all the other movies and make creations that aren’t going to do jack squat, that’s just lame.
Weaknesses for this movie other than those stated above, can start with the story. It’s a well-edited collection of plots, but I felt the storyboard team bummed a lot of other stories. The result was some cheesy tie-ins and plot weak points that are humorous or irritating depending on your character. The other thing I felt was there were too many plots crammed into a two-hour film leading to some rather hasty tie-ups to get to the action. Luckily, all of these weaknesses are a little diluted by the awesome action and fun you will have.
Overall I wasn’t disappointed in Pacific Rim and give it two thumbs up in the action department. Unlike other action flicks, Pacific Rim brought both action and laughs, without overdoing it on the comedy, like a few other robot movies have done. It focused on the pilots and their armor, gave some dynamic features to the monsters, and did it all in stunning graphic and sound quality. Yes it still needs to work on balance of character and story and could certainly use some originality to their story instead of stealing from other story lines, but it is a fun film. As for the 3-D quality, I did see this movie in the high definition quality and say if you can handle the 3-D and loud sounds this movie is worth the trip. It was used for shadows and detail and not for monster appendages and robot fists stabbing out of the screen, something that is a plus for me. If not, still go see this movie in theaters, because it was made for the high quality sounds and big screen goodness. My scores for this film are:
Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0