Film Review: Pacific Rim

Giant monsters, known as Kaiju, are emerging through a rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, destroying cities across the world. In response, humans have created Jaegers, huge robots designed to repel the alien threat. As more and more Kaiju start appearing, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and other elite Jaeger pilots are tasked with wiping them out once and for all.

There are various reasons why one goes to the cinema. Maybe it’s to be scared by a horror film or intellectually challenged by something arty. Maybe it’s to laugh yourself hoarse. However, for many a trip to the cinema is an opportunity for mindless escapism, and if that’s you then Pacific Rim delivers in swathes.

Because, you see, Pacific Rim isn’t going to make you think, but that’s never its intention. Director Guillermo del Toro has been quite open about channeling his inner 11 year old when making this film and that’s precisely what he intends the audience to do also.

Let’s get the nitpicks out the way first. The script is terrible; there’s no other way of putting it. It’s cheesy and cliched throughout, and I actually laughed out loud at one point at something that wasn’t intended to be funny. But yet it somehow works. Sure, I’d preferred the script to have a little more brains to it, but its cheesiness still works for the film in the most part. The story is also incredibly predictable. You know exactly what’s going to happen next pretty much all the way through and nothing comes as much of a surprise. However, again, you can largely overlook this. You might see everything coming a mile off but it’s not the kind of film than needs loads of twists and turns.

Onto the good stuff.

The sense of scale in Pacific Rim is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Both the Jaegers and the kaiju look absolutely immense and you really feel every skull-crunching blow during the fight scenes. And unlike Man of Steel (and many others), you can actually tell what’s going on during these scenes. The camera lingers just a little longer and is much less frenetic, really helping you fully appreciate the action and impressive CGI.

And despite the predictable plotting, the film also has a surprising amount of heart. Fallen comrades, daddy issues and childhood trauma all play a part in adding just a little more depth to the story. It’s all pretty standard fare but still handled reasonably well.

PACIFIC RIM

It’s also delivered well, too. Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi all do admirably as the film’s major players, whilst bit parters such as Ron Perlman’s black market kaiju trader add a bit of flavour to proceedings. Only Geiszler & Gottlieb (Charlie Day & Burn Gorman), the two eccentric professors and the film’s obvious comedic relief, feel a little awkward and irritating.

It’s not difficult to see where Pacific Rim gets its inspiration from. The Japanese kaiju movies from the 1950s and 60s such as Godzilla and Mothra are the most obvious influence, along with mecha anime films, but there are a number of other influences, including World War 2 and martial arts films mixed in as well. It’s clear del Toro had a blast with this and that really comes across.

Pacific Rim ticks pretty much all the blockbuster boxes and is never going to win any originality awards, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. It’s big, cheesy and dumb, but ya know what? Sometimes that’s OK.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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39 thoughts on “Film Review: Pacific Rim

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great review! I love the connection between the Japanese classic and today’s version. Excellent insight.

  2. Gene says:

    Soooo glad to hear you liked it. I’m mad at myself for not having seen it yet but I can’t wait to! Thanks!

  3. CMrok93 says:

    Nice review. A good time at the movies that will make you feel like a kid again. That is, if you can get past the bad script.

  4. Cameron says:

    You summed it up perfectly in the end. Yeah, it’s dumb, but it’s a summer movie. As long as it’s a whole lot of fun! Excellent review!

    • Thanks Cameron. I didn’t want anything intelligent from this, I just wanted big things hitting each other and that’s exactly what it was! Yet it still managed to be a million times better than Transformers, which is essentially the same kinda thing.

  5. ruth says:

    YAY! Glad you’re in my corner on this one Chris! It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also got plenty of heart. I wasn’t irritated by the two scientists, well maybe Charlie Day is a bit much at times but I thought Burn Gorman was hilarious!

    • Definitely in your corner with this one, Ruth! I was so close to giving it another half a pigeon too. I actually found Charlie Day the lesser of two evils with the scientists; it was Burn Gorman who irked me a little, but I still didn’t mind him too much anyway.

  6. Nick Powell says:

    Good review and glad to see you give it the score you did. I agree the script is cliched to hell and back, but that’s entirely the point. Guillermo del Toro is an exceptional screenwriter and he did all of that on purpose, not because he “can’t write” or doesn’t have the intelligence. The whole idea is to play to the tropes we’re all so familiar with and put them in a world with giant robots and monsters. And that’s exactly what he does and oh my is it brilliant.

    • Thanks Nick. I definitely reckon a lot of the dead cheesy stuff was done on purpose too, it was supposed to be a massive piece of dumb fun. It’s the same with stuff like Star Wars; most of that is incredibly cliched and cheesy but it still works.

  7. Dan Heaton says:

    I had a lot of fun with Pacific Rim, though I agree with you that the there were some very familiar conventions in the plot. Their success really depended on the actors. The father-son drama did not work so well. Even so, I never felt bludgeoned by this film. That takes major skill and helps it to avoid just being loud for no reason. It was fun, and that’s sometimes in short supply with big-budget blockbusters.

    • You’re right, Dan, it is in short supply with a lot of blockbusters. Most of them just feel really soulless but I didn’t feel that with this. Not all of it worked and I agree about the father-son thing, that was a bit weak, but it didn’t seem out of place or anything. You could see everything coming a mile off but I didn’t mind that at all.

  8. keith7198 says:

    Good review my friend. Same score here as well. Fun movie.

  9. sati says:

    Glad to read you had a good time! I was really bored but at least Elba was in it, so that’s always a plus for me 🙂 I agree you could see what was going on in scenes unlike in Man of Steel where I really didn’t know what was happening through most of the final battle.

  10. MerylJarret says:

    Great review! You nailed exactly what I loved about this film, and exactly what I didn’t love but was able to reconcile with. You also have a very nice writing style in general. My friend, Meryl, and I reviewed the movie as well, and I more or less had the same opinion as you, but she didn’t quite agree. So, if you’re interested in the opinion of a like-minded individual or an opposite perspective, we’d love if you would check us out and let us know what you think!

    http://cinemababble.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/pacific-rim-2/

    -Jarret

    P.s.
    The pigeons are effing cute.

  11. Agreed. There are plenty of flaws if you want to pick on them, but with a movie this fun, I prefer to focus on the enjoyment factor! 😀

  12. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I always enjoy Del Toro’s work and hope to check this out soon.

  13. Zoë says:

    Awesome review! I really wish this one would hurry it up, it is getting really good reviews.

  14. I agree great stupid fun, and the action was great. who does’t like to watch robots fight monsters. However, a part of me expected more from del Toro.

    • I can see where you’re coming from there wanting more from del Toro. I definitely think you can see his influence in the film but it doesn’t feel like a del Toro film if you know what I mean. Not that I could really tell you off the top of my head what one of those feels like 🙂

  15. Pleased to see you enjoyed it as much as I did. Top work!

  16. Mike says:

    Great Review – Though I was a little disappointed with it when I first saw it, went back to see if I could get past the terrible script and poor characters and wooden acting ( a product of the script – I hoped) and just enjoy the giant robots and monsters having a few fights!

    But I couldn’t…. in fact the slight liking I had for it disappeared as those poor points seemed highlighted and the generic fight sequences bored me. Overall there really isn’t that much action in it or it didn’t seem that way! Fast editing and with the fights always at night which didn’t help, plus the last fight was very poor! Just not enough excitement!

    I was in awe of the CGI, maybe some of the best I’ve ever seen, the scale was spot on as well. The monster design was a very good, but they didn’t blow me away!
    The score was great before I saw the film, but I’ve lost a little interest in it since seeing the film.

    • Thanks Mike. That’s a shame you didn’t get too much from this. I can’t disagree with the lame script but for me it kinda worked for the film, although it did go a bit too far in some places and went uber cheesy. And I agree it was odd that the fight scenes were always at night; I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it made the CGI easier to render or maybe they just thought it’d be more dramatic. It would have been nice to see a little variation in the fights though.
      Having said that, I still had loads of fun with it. It’d be interesting to see how I fared with it a second time though.

  17. filmhipster says:

    Can’t wait to see this Chris, nice review buddy.

  18. Mark Hobin says:

    I really appreciated the camerawork as well. Nice to actually see what’s going on. Such a fun film. Great review!

  19. Thanks Mark. There have been so many big blockbusters where you just have no idea what’s going on and it’s just a blur of colour. I’m glad we got to properly appreciate the robots and aliens though; one of the reasons you can tell it’s made by someone who clearly loves these type of films.

  20. table9mutant says:

    Yep. Pretty much exactly what I thought. 🙂

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