on July 23, 2013
Pacific Rim got hammered pretty hard by a lot of confused critics who apparently only know Guillermo del Toro from his more artistic magical realism work and somehow missed Hellboy, Mimic, and Blade 2. Pacific Rim belongs solidly to the latter camp, but it's a labor of love and is missing none of the flair that makes del Toro films so special. At its core it is essentially a Western Super Sentai film; heroes suit up in giant robots to battle monsters that are invading our dimension... And that's it. You can foist all sorts of allegory onto this movie if you want, and you can plumb it for deeper meaning- it's rich enough- but at the end of the day it's a thrilling adventure about friendship, big robots, and monster punching. Wet blankets need not apply.
Short summary: a portal to an alien world opens under the ocean and giant monsters come out. The governments of the world team up to battle them, eventually doing so with Jaegers, huge robots piloted by two psychically linked pilots who must act in tandem to control their war machines. For a while this goes swimmingly, but the money dries up and the monsters keep coming, and soon the fate of the world rests on crusty and intensely likeable Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who runs the world's last 4 jaegers in an endless war against the monsters out of Hong Kong. Pentacost has a plan to destroy the portal that brings the monsters to earth but to do that he recruits emotionally scarred Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who must copilot with the impetuous and vengeful Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) for one last big mission. Cue a ton of fighting and explosions.
This film showcases a lot of newcomer actors to great effect. The burgeoning friendship between Mori and Becket is particularly well done (it is best described as a guy-girl bromance really) and the rest of the cast does science, runs from monsters, or is Ron Perlman (yes that's a role now) very effectively. Idris Elba gets to play to his strengths very well here and chew a lot of scenery as an AGING HERO with SAD SECRETS, and lest you think that del Toro will craft a strong black lead then stick him in an office like every other director, rest assured that Pentacost punches monsters in a big robot too.
Of course the fights are the meat of the film and they do not disappoint. The robots and monsters convey a powerful sense of size and weight, as their enormous fists, tails, and jaws gnash and hit with weight and authority. Fights are almost wholly digital affairs and perhaps to save money they are usually in rainy darkness, but they are still exciting and tense. The multi-stage throwdown in Hong Kong at the film's peak is one of the best giant monster battles ever committed to film and I say that as a die-hard Godzilla fan.
Some critics have panned this film for a lack of depth, but the truth is that it does what it wants to- deliver a summer blockbuster- and it does so with unprecedented depth. Its writing, performances, and effects easily put it on par with The Avengers as a smart summer action romp, and to disrespect this film because it's not another Pan's Labyrinth is sort of like saying a really good ice cream sundae is undeserving of your time because it's not a baked Alaska. Lest we overlook it too, Rim is also an ORIGINAL film in an industry plagued by remakes, sequels, and general unoriginality. You don't have to buy it (although I would) but you should absolutely see it in theaters or rent it at least once. Don't miss out.
-Endearing performances from a young cast (with help from some veterans)
-Way, way better than Cloverfield
-Blends Artsy del Toro's flair for eerie creatures and dream imagery with comic geek del Toro's love of SMASH POW BAM
-Effective ear bug soundtrack will stick with you
-Really good 3D if that's your thing
-Some of the other Jaeger crews are not very well developed
-The very beginning crams a lot of exposition in pretty fast
So I received and watched the disk. The standard version of Rim comes in a handsome slipcase with a fun holographic cover that APPEARS to be removable (although a true collector won't want to of course...). The BD itself is easily navigable and all trailers are skippable. There is a whole other disk of special features which I have not yet watched. Overall this feels very premium, more like a collector's edition than a basic retail set. The case doesn't even have cutouts to save material as many BD cases do nowadays.
Picture quality is outstanding overall. On the small screen, and without the slight softening effect of 3D, this actually reveals some sort of cheap-looking CGI in the first Kaiju encounter during the opening narration*. Thankfully, subsequent battles look great. The movie is free from excessive cleanup and boasts the odd bit of grain, making it look very filmic and natural, even when big monsters and big robots are clubbing one another with bits of dockyard.
Audio is suitably bombastic and rich, with voices, music, and effects all mixed to a consistent, listenable volume range (I'm looking at you, first two Iron Man films on home video).
Overall this is a great Blu Ray and watching it at home the film held up to my initial high opinion.
* This is probably because much of this sequence was produced long before editing of the remainder of the film was completed.
If you ever watched a Godzilla movie, or any other giant monster movie, and wanted to see what it might look like with today's special effects, grab your popcorn and check out Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim."
In the near future, Earth faces invasion from giant monsters (Kaiju), who emerge from the ocean and wreak havoc on coastal cities. The humans create giant robot Jaegers to fight them. For a while this works, but the monsters grow stronger and once again overwhelm the humans. Pacific Rim follows a former robot jockey who is called back to duty as the human defenses dwindle.....
I've looked forward to this movie for a long time, as I loved the giant monster movies of my youth. This didn't disappoint. Interesting and intimidating Kaiju, unique and powerful Jaegers, well choreographed fight scenes, and awesome special effects combine to make this a fantastic summer movie. There were several scenes which had the audience cheering and applauding.
I've rated this 5 stars because it was exactly what I was looking for. If you are looking for a deep character-driven film, this might not be for you. I would question why you are going to a giant monster vs. giant robot movie for that. If you want to see utter destruction and great fight scenes, you really cant' go wrong with Pacific Rim.
I saw this in the theater in 3D, and while the 3D was prevalent and pretty good, it faltered when the scenes called for 3D and subtitles. Nevertheless, it is highly worthy not only of seeing in a theater (the scenes will not play as well on a smaller screen) but it is also worth paying the extra price for 3D (something I don't say often).
on July 16, 2013
I'll say up front, though it bears little resemblance to the monster sized dump that is Michael Bay's "Transformers" trilogy-Pacific Rim is the type of movie Bayformers should have been. What I mean by that-is that unlike those hell spawned abominations-Pacific Rim delivers giant robots that awe and inspire instead of ones that pee on people and dangle metallic testicles. Also unlike Bayformers you will not be forced to witness any dog humping or have to groan through lame "jokes" about red mugs in yellow rooms. (No 45 minute long who-gives-a-crap job interview scenes in here either)
Thankfully-Pacific Rim does not take an uber-cool property and twist it, turn it and crush it beyond recognition into some overly long, lame one-note joke of a film. Instead, it's completely earnest and non cynical in its delivery. I've been a fan of Guillermo Del Toro since Pan's Labyrinth (a BRILLIANT adult fairy tale) and have gone back and watched his other films to discover what a true master of the art he really is. I went into Pacific Rim with realistic expectations-daring to hope that it would be the movie I wanted it to be. I left the theater transformed into a little boy filled with wonder and amazement at what I had just witnessed. Though this film is jam packed with special effects-they serve to add to the story not to take away from it or go unnecessarily over the top (I'm looking at you Man of Steel...).
The Jaegers here are a marvel to behold and easy on the eyes (unlike the overcomplicated designs of the Bayformers). The sense of scale and power they inspire is awe striking and the Jaegers are beautifully designed in every way. In fact, the whole movie (praise to the art director) is incredibly consistent in its design-whisking us far away from the real world into the candy colored Kaiju vs. Jaeger world of the future which is EXACTLY what a good movie SHOULD do. This film takes special effects far beyond mere gimmickry and serves them up as colorful and artistic as possible. Even if Pacific Rim is not your kind of movie, you can't help but to be blown away by how beautiful it all is. While the story here may not be Oscar-worthy, it's still very sound and interesting and the characters (mostly unknown actors) are very likable. Idris Elba is good in everything he does and his role here is no different. Charlie Hunnam also brings a lot of charisma to the protagonist. In short, Pacific Rim is a well meaning film that knows EXACTLY what kind of film it is and it aims right for the heart of the little boy inside us all. For me, it brought back that sense of wonder and awe my adult self had forgotten movies were still capable of delivering. I really enjoyed playing in Guillermo Del Toro's sand box. Pacific Rim is a monsters vs. robots smash fest and it's completely unapologetic about being exactly that. Do yourself a favor and give Pacific Rim a look. See it in the theater if you can for the sheer sense of scale. Fathers take your sons to see this film too. If movies like this continue to flounder at the box office, it's a guarantee that original ideas will cease to exist and the summer box office season will be bloated with more sequels, spin offs, reboots, etc. Del Toro nailed this one, it's the movie his career has been building up to. I just knew he had something spectacular up his sleeve and Pacific Rim is that film. It's fantastic.
"Pacific Rim" was one of my favorite movies this summer. It delivers on everything that a summer movie should - most importantly, it's a lot of fun and has a big heart. Guillermo del Toro is one of Hollywood's best working directors (particularly in genre filmmaking) - his experience doing creature features and his talents for visual design was exactly what this film needed.
Obviously, one of the most appealing factors of this movie is the spectacle. This movie handled scale very well. One of my favorite shots comes from the first sequence, when a destroyed Jaeger falls in the snow right next to a person on the ground - seeing this massive 250-ft. machine next to a human was amazing. And it all looks photo-real; the visual effects and compositing work on display is top-notch.
In terms of the 3D: it was post-converted rather than shot in the stereo format, but the process was given several months to be completed. "Pacific Rim" is an example of 3D post-conversion that was given the time and money to succeed, and as a result the consensus seems to be that it looks very good.
Also, a movie with monsters and machines is going to require unique sound design. The soundscape is every bit as massive as the visuals. The musical score by Ramin Djawadi is one of the year's best and adds a sense of fun and adventure to the film (I highly recommend the soundtrack album).
LIST OF SPECIAL FEATURES (available on both 3D Blu-Ray set and the regular Blu-Ray Combo Pack)
1. Audio Commentary by Guillermo del Toro
2. Prologue by Guillermo Del Toro
3. The Directors Notebook:
- Drift Space
- The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim
- The Shatterdome
4. Focus Point Featurettes:
- A Primer on Kaijus & Jaegers
- Intricacy of Robot Design
- Honoring The Kaiju Tradition
- The Importance of Mass and Scale
- Shatterdome Ranger Roll Call
- Jaegers Echo Human Grace
- Inside the Drift
- Mega Sized Sets
- Baby Kaiju Set Visit
- Tokyo Alley Set Visit
- Orchestral Sounds from the Anteverse
- The Wall of Life/Rations
- Excuse Me
- Catch You In The Drift, Dad
5. Shatterdome Database
6. Deleted Scenes
7. Blooper Reel
on November 28, 2013
It was love at first sight. This is the best summation of my reaction to finally getting a chance to see Guillermo del Toro's new sci-fi tent pole production, Pacific Rim. Pure, unadulterated love.
You see, for me cinematic science fiction has definitely been heading in the wrong direction these last few decades. As someone who grew up reading (and loving!) the great science fiction masters of yesteryear - authors such as Asimov, Bradbury, Hubbard, Saberhagan, and so many more - I have developed a distinctive taste for science fiction that doesn't just ask the great science fiction motivator question of "what if...?", but also provides a smart yet thrillingly imaginative answer to that question. I admit that is a tall order to fill, yet somehow the old masters managed to fulfill that order time and again. Strangely, Hollywood, despite its billions of dollars and army of scriptwriters, has been largely unable to do so.
Instead, we have been force-fed a diet of either cartoonish and superficial science fiction along the lines of the $380 million dollar after school special that was James Cameron's Avatar, or we lurch to the other end of the spectrum and wind up being forced to suffer through an insipid lecture on the latest socioeconomic hobbyhorse that is taking Tinsel Town by storm, one merely disguised as science fiction by the misappropriation of that genre's robots/ray guns/spaceships/what-have-you so as to make the Marxist poison go down easier (I'm looking at you, WALL-E). Whichever way Hollywood lurches with this stuff the end result has been the same for me: it just isn't fun anymore. Schoolyard silly? Yes! Tedious? Absolutely! But fun? Er...no. Nor truly imaginative, for that matter. I swear, if I see one more jungle planet, or one more garbage dump planet, I'm going to get on a spaceship and leave for good....
I think this is why I so readily fell in love with Pacific Rim. This movie represents a return to science fiction fundamentals, to a time where the all important "what if...?" wasn't asked by a tedious professor of feminist studies, but by a practiced storyteller with an active imagination. In this case, the question is a classic one right out of the black and white glory days of sci-fi monster movies: "what if Earth was invaded by giant monsters? And what if they only way to defeat those monsters was to 'create monsters of our own'?" Now that is the question to ask!
And from there the movie is off and running. Indeed, "running" might be the perfect word as the movie immediately wows you with an eye-popping battle between a towering "Category 3" Kaiju (Japanese for "strange creature") and an equally towering Jaeger mech (no, not a 'robot') piloted by two human "ranger" pilots linked by a mental "drift", something that helps to better distribute the mental load of managing such a mighty weapon. What results is the type of giant monster vs. giant mech battle scene that I have yearned to see since I watched Voltron as a kid. It is just...awesome! So awesome in fact that it almost brought a tear of nostalgia to my Gen X'er eye.
I won't tell you what happens during that battle as it involves a pretty important plot point, but suffice to say that this battle will mark a turning point in mankind's eight year struggle against an alien invasion that originates from a multi-dimensional "rift" in the Pacific seabed. For after this battle mankind's Jaeger offensive would begin to fail, leaving major cities along the Pacific Rim (hence the name of the movie) vulnerable to destruction from the claws and teeth of ever more powerful Kaiju. Things get so bad in fact that mankind is ultimately forced to a last ditch defensive strategy involving the construction of massive "Anti-Kaiju Walls" to protect coastal cities, something that politicians assure the world will work where the Jaegers have failed...despite the fact that a Kaiju is soon seen to effortlessly smash his way through such a wall (clearly the same government contractors who have built the Obamacare website must have built these walls). Of course, the Earth's only real hope still lies with the now abandoned Jaeger program, which is now exiled to Hong Kong with its last handful of functional Jaegers. The question is: can they turn the tide so late in the game, and with fewer resources than ever? Classic underdog movie incoming!
What results is an old school sci-fi actioner that keeps you on the edge of your seat as one frightful sea monster after another requires whacking with the massive metal hands - and rockets, plasma cannons, swords...amongst other weapons - of the last four mechs in existence. These battles are truly eye-catching spectacles, particularly due to how Del Toro brings so much color to them. The mid-movie battle in Hong Kong is particularly striking as it manages to catch a Blade Runner visual vibe with all the neon lighting and LCD displays in that city, something Del Toro uses to great visual effect. But even the battles that take place out on stormy seas are wonderful to behold in all their detail. I was particularly impressed by how Del Toro managed to avoid the oft chaotic battles that plague Michael Bay's dreadful Transformer movies where visual FX computers seem to haphazardly vomit pixels onto the screen. While there are a few moments where Pacific Rim's battles can get a bit busy, it is never as muddled or confused as a typical Transformer's mash-up. Instead, the audience gets to feel every blow and see almost every punch, leading to visceral fights that I couldn't help but to become emotionally invested in, especially after coming to appreciate how nasty the Kaiju are by nature. I also enjoyed how Del Toro always seemed to position the camera in just the right way so as to convey the awesome size and power of these clashing behemoths.
The great visual effects aren't limited to battles, either. This movie just has a great visual style to it. For example, I particularly enjoyed how Del Toro conjured up the ghost of World War II by providing glimpses of propaganda posters throughout the film.
Even the Jaegers displayed the type of artwork on their chassis' that was often seen on the nosecones of B-24 bombers. The weather was also used to good effect as most of the battles took place during dark and stormy nights...yes, yes, I have heard that this has something to do with covering up the limitations of CGI (1998's Godzilla used a similar technique), but I still found it to be an effective way to reinforce the apocalyptic tones of the film. Lastly, the Jaeger cockpits were also nicely realized with their mechanical contraptions that translate human movements into mechanical ballets of death. Listening to the actors grunt and groan with effort in their mechanical harnesses as they maneuvered their Jaegers in battle, just as modern fighter pilots groan against the punishing effects of "pulling G's"in a jet, made the battles all the more believable.
Speaking of actors: unlike many contemporary sci-fi films of recent years, Pacific Rim's weight is borne not so much by its massive CGI metal shoulders but by its excellent cast. Our protagonist, Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot recalled to active duty, is competently played by Charlie Hunnam. Nonetheless, it is his co-stars that really steal the show. Idris Elba delivers a home run performance with his cold-as-a-steely-Jaeger performance as Becket's commander, Stacker Pentecost, a man determined to save the world even if the world has long since given up on saving itself. Becket's new co-pilot, Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi, is likewise a stunner, but this time in the "Lord, she's hot!" sort of way. Rounding out the excellent cast are two mad scientists: the professorial mathematician Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, played by Burn Gorman, and Dr. Newton Geiszler, the Kaiju specialist with rock star aspirations, energetically played by Charlie Day. These two scientists basically go all Abbot and Costello during the film as they seek to find the solution to the Kaiju problem, but they do so with great comedic effect. Add in Ron Perlman as a Kaiju black marketeer by the name of Hannibal Chau (I think this is one of his finest roles since Hellboy), and Ellen McLain, famed voice actress of GlaDOS from the game Portal (Del Toro is a gamer like most Gen Xers), as Gypsy Danger's AI, and you can't ask for a better cast than what is featured in Pacific Rim.
The icing on the cake for me was Del Toro's use of religious, particularly Roman Catholic, symbolism. As anybody who has watched this director's previous works understands, Del Toro always finds a way to bring a deeper spiritual meaning to his films and Pacific Rim is no exception, something that truly surprised me as I didn't think a giant mech/monster movie could have much spirituality in it! Nonetheless, Del Toro found a way to bring in a few such references. For example, our protagonist, Raleigh Becket, bears the surname of a great Catholic saint who opposed great power with mere faith, a fitting analogy for a man who is tasked with slaying monsters. Of course, Becket's commander has the surname Pentecost...need anything else be said about this motivating Holy Ghost of mankind's resistance against the Kaiju? Then we have the lesser character of Ops Officer Tendo Choi (played by Clifton Collins, Jr.) who wears a rosary around his wrist at all times. Lastly, and most powerfully, we have a final scene where the American Jaeger 'Gypsy Danger' descends into the alien's hellish universe for one last sacrifice - the Christological symbolism is both visually and metaphorically striking. Well done, Del Toro!
Lastly, I found the music to be suitably rousing. Somehow Del Toro combined the musical elements of rock, military marches, and Saturday afternoon cartoons into one pleasing theme!
So, What's Not to Like?
I have to be honest: there isn't a lot to not like about this film as long as you approach as what is is: a piece of monster-bashing science fiction designed for some nostalgic fun. Any flaws are really minor. For example, after the opening fight sequence, the movie takes a rather lengthy pause as it sets up the story and introduces the major characters. Fair enough - the time is put to good use - but I found myself getting antsy for the next fight scene.
I also thought the final fight scene was a bit underwhelming. It takes place underwater at the Rift, something I thought had the potential to be wonderfully imaginative. Sadly, with the exception of a few passing fish, the battle might have well taken place on land as there are few uses of the unique conditions I imagine fighting three thousand feet under the sea would entail. And speaking of the final battle, Pacific Rim lazily falls back on the tired, old science fiction solution to every problem: firing a proton torpedo into a thermal exhaust shaft two meters wide. Same idea going on here.
Another slight disappointment for me was the lack of detail concerning the 8+ year old war against the Kaiju, as well as the nitty gritty details surround the construction and maintenance of the Jaegers. Del Toro has created a fascinating setting and I would have loved to been able to explore it in greater detail beyond the quick 10-minute intro at the start of the film. Let's hope a few sequels rectify this flaw!
One of the things I found interesting about Pacific Rim was the generally downbeat reaction from the critics. In many ways it reminded me of the confused and befuddled reaction many critics had to the rock solid mil sci-fi that is Battle: Los Angles. Like then, I can only surmise that we are dealing with a systemic problem: that we have a generation of critics that have been lulled to sleep by years of cartoonish science fiction along the lines of Avatar, Star Wars: Episodes 1-3, and countless other recent endeavors. When confronted by a style of science fiction that is not only more soberly militaristic, but also lacks a Will Smith cracking jokes every few minutes (this was an actual criticism of Battle:LA from a prominent critic), I think most critics just fall off their bikes without their training wheels.
But I think there is a deeper problem here, a generational 'rift', if you will. Pacific Rim is, first and foremost, a Mecha movie. Now, if you have never heard that term before it is probably due to the fact that you are NOT a Gen X'er. Indeed, I find it a fun exercise to go through reviews of Pacific Rim and count the number of times Jaegers are referred to as "robots", a sure sign of a critic out of his depth (one recent review asked if this movie was based on The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers....*facepalm*). Mechs have been popularized by countless amounts of Japanese manga and anime, such as Gundam and Voltron, not to mention lots of games as well (MechWarrior and Strike Suit Zero, for example), so we Gen X'ers have grown up with this stuff and completely understand what Del Toro is doing (again, a fellow Gen X'er). With that in mind I think it is fair to say that Gen X'ers will/do enjoy this movie far more than Baby Boomers whom seem downright confused by the concept of walking tanks piloted by human Rangers!
Whatever the reason for the disconnect between the critics and the fans, Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is a solidly entertaining piece of cinematic science fiction that will please both Gen X'ers who have longed to see mechs brought to the big screen, and, needless to say, those who are just looking for some entertaining monster science fiction in the vein of Godzilla or Gamera. Succinctly: long after the likes of cartoonish and and politically correct sci-fi moves like Avatar are forgotten, people will still be watching Pacific Rim and its monster on mech mayhem.
Old school science fiction has returned, and Del Toro gets the credit for putting the fun back into the genre.
on October 15, 2013
***Please note that this is a review of the Collectors Edition of Pacific Rim***
Pacific Rim is a fantastic movie by Guillermo del Toro. A fun ride from start to finish, it's a movie that will have you wondering why all summer blockbusters aren't half as engaging and well put together.
This Collectors Edition, however, leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
Shown in the official product images, you would believe you are getting a Jaeger statue along with your movie. What you are actually getting is a Jaeger shaped movie case. Here in lies the problems:
1. You get no actual movie case to place your movies in, just the "statue" shown in the images.
2. #1 is a problem because the plastic Jaeger case has no back. It is completely open.
3. #2 is even more of a problem because the latch that holds the disc lid in place is half a millimeter high. That is not a typo. The slightest bump will swing the movies out. In my case, this actually knocked the case off of my shelf hen I set it down the first time.
4. The discs are all stacked on top of each other.
Normally I would say "simply avoid this", but if you are a fan of the movie, this is the only way to get the "extra" special features disc, which contains about 30 minutes of features.
This is a wonderful movie in a terrible package. If possible, buy it in any other packaging possible. I hope this keeps someone from making the same mistake I did.
Movie - 5 Stars
Case - 0 Stars
Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is 2 hours of pure, unadulterated, escapist, awesome FUN. You want plot? I'll give you plot: Giant robots. With buzz saws, swords, guns, and fists. Fighting giant monsters. With acid, horns, claws, and wings.
And that is all the plot you need. Let the most fun, action-packed, thrilling, awesome, escapist action/science fiction blockbuster event of the year begin! Pacific Rim is a film that appeals to the 12-year-olds in all of us. The action takes place on a gigantic scale, huge, operatic, devastating, lots of bashing and punching, but here's the thing: it was refreshing to see a climactic fight scene that did NOT take place in a major city, in which huge skyscrapers are destroyed, with people running from men in spandex. There was a lot of city destruction, but compared to Man of Steel or Star Trek Into Darkness or The Avengers, Pacific Rim was refreshingly "light and airy."
Those were director Guillermo del Toro's words on the tone he was hoping to strike for the film, as opposed to the usual "super-brooding, super-dark, cynical summer movie." Although the majority of the film takes place in the dark and the rain, I believe he succeeded.
But let me tell you this: I have never been more involved in a movie than when I watched Pacific Rim in the cinema. I was cheering during the fight scenes and literally gripping the sides of my chair in some parts. The characters were real and sympathetic, and even the Jaegers become relatable characters. This is in no small part to the acting, which was all round excellent and, at times, surprisingly subtle.
Raleigh Becket is played with charisma Charlie Hunnam, and Rinko Kikuchi turns in a surprisingly excellent performance as Mako Mori, Raleigh's drifting partner. Idris Elba is never bad, and although his character tends to be a bit dour, he is also really cool and brings a real presence to the film (And who can forget his line, "Today...we are cancelling the APOCALYPSE!" Oh yeah, By punching it in the face!). Charlie Day brings the levity and the comic relief, and both are entertaining as the as eccentric scientist Newton Gieszler. Del Toro's good luck charm is here too; the ever reliable Ron Perlman, who chews the scenery with his usual wacky gusto. Max Martini gives a surprisingly awesome role as Hercules Hanson, one of the veteran Jaeger pilots in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
The human characters have realistic drama and conflict, and their actions and emotions are real to the audience...blah blah BLAH. Of course; we all know that. Del Toro is a veteran director, adept at world-building, immersive atmosphere, memorable characters, sincere emotion, and utter terror. But that's not what you came for, is it? We came for giant robots versus giant monsters. And on that front...Pacific Rim delivers!
The action, is, in a word, completely AWESOME. I say that in the literal sense. The Hong Kong fight will blow your friggin' mind. I was literally cheering at the screen. When you read it from a secondhand perspective, it may sound clichéd or even juvenile, but that moment where Crimson Typhoon (China) comes out with its 4 buzz saws, and Cherno Alpha (Russia) starts punching kaiju face...it's enough to make you feel 12 years-old again. It's the most incredibly thrilling and viscerally awesome scene in a movie I have seen in a long, long time. And I see a lot of movies. I could have given Pacific Rim 5 stars for that scene alone.
But let's talk cons. This is definitely a more of a guy's movie. Nearly every female in the audience I watched it with described it as "Crazy", or halfheartedly called it "Good..." or, "Not my type of movie". There are a quite a few plot holes, and I feel that the climax was not handled as well as it should have (could have). There was a curious lack of emotion, and let me just say that it was slightly underwhelming for me.
But that is not to detract from this otherwise excellent film. Technically, Guillermo strikes home. The CGI is amazing, and the use of 3D adds rather than detracts from the film. The score by Ramin Djawadi is stirring and catchy and completely awesome; becoming my new FAVOURITE 2013 SCORE, taking 1st prize over Hans Zimmer's more operatic Man of Steel score. The editing is very good; no shaky cam here. The camera work is filled with Del Toro's typically beautiful, stylistic flourishes and striking imagery. The production design feels lived in, worn in, and is realistic without taking all the fun out of the entertaining sci-fi world Pacific Rim takes place in.
I'm running out of things to say here. Just go watch Pacific Rim, preferably at the biggest screen possible, in 3D (excellent use of it, I must say), and with the volume blaring. It's that rare thing in Hollywood nowadays: the completely original blockbuster. And as such, we must hail Guillermo del Toro as one of the great cinematic visions of our time. This is a subject of passion to him, and he directs with passion and with fervour. And the audiences, well, they're just swept along for the ride of a lifetime!
Just go watch Pacific Rim! My rating? Level five kaiju out of five.
P.S. Guillermo del Toro, we NEED a sequel!
on September 14, 2013
I'm not going to try to write a better or more detailed review than others that you will see here. I think they've said it better than I can or will.
First of all, let's keep this in perspective: I'm a mature woman (over 50), business professional and a martial artist - and I'm going back for an eleventh viewing tomorrow. (Ever watch a movie for the umpteenth time, knowing that once you get through the 'boring' part, you'll get back to the good stuff? Pacific Rim doesn't have a boring part you have to 'get through'; it contains only 'good stuff.')
What I can say is that this movie is beyond fantastic. It's brilliant. It's uplifting. It shows people at their best, rather than at their worst; it shows humanity at its best as well.
Is it flawless? No - but the flaws are minor and don't take anything away from the movie as a whole.
What truly makes this movie isn't the acting, the Jaegers, the kaiju or any other single aspect, but rather the absolute love of Guillermo del Toro for the genre; it shows in every detail. Watch for scenes like the flawless transition from Mako's transition from inside Gipsy Danger to entering her memory; the entire 'little Mako' scenario - it's terrifying!; the details like the rain bouncing off Gipsy Danger when she punches her fist after leaving the base in Alaska on the first mission of the film; Tendo's 'tap out' after the final battle; watch the incredible body mechanics that are captured in the motion of Striker Eureka's run in Hong Kong Bay (and in the fight in Sydney - and this is a scene that takes only a few seconds!), the motion of Gipsy as she recaptures her balance after being thrown onto the dock, Gipsy as she carries the oil tanker, and again, her body mechanics as she accelerates to run after the kaiju in Hong Kong. In most CGI, the 'weight' of the body is lost in the motion; here, it's captured beautifully - and for these little scenes alone, the movie is unparalleled. Add to this the great music (listen to the changes as the scenes in Hong Kong Bay shift from Crimson Typhoon to Cherno Alpha), the absolute refusal of Travis Beacham to yield to the typical cliches you expect in these movies, and you end up with a movie that is, as far as I am concerned, possibly the best movie ever.
on July 26, 2013
Pacific Rim, the latest film from visionary director Guillermo del Toro, who gave us Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy films, plunges us into a world where giant creatures known as the Kaiju have emerged from a portal beneath the Pacific Ocean we deem "The Breach." When jets, tanks and bombs don't do the job, the major nations of the world come together to create the Jaeger Program; giant mechs controlled by two pilots over a neural bridge called The Drift, where two minds come together as one, sharing memories and emotions. The Jaegers seem to get the job done, keeping cities and countries safe, but everything changes when the Kaiju begin to learn our defenses, and the Jaegers begin to fall. Soon, the apocalypse begins, and only a few Jaegers stand against the tide.
Pacific Rim is one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen, having the fun, clichéd blockbuster side of Independence Day, and the expert directing, flawless visuals and good acting of a purely well-made film. Is this a Best Picture winning film? No, but by all means, it is an instant SF-Action classic. The battles between Jaegers and the Kaiju always progress, becoming harder and more challenging, the characters do develop, even the minor ones (Hannibal Chou, the pilots of Striker Eureka, and the scientist duo), and the emotion is real. Del Toro proves here that he is capable of turning a mindless blockbuster hit into a work of art. I don't want to spoil much about this movie, but I must say, the Kaiju are some of the most amazing and creative creatures in all of cinema. Del Toro truly put all his heart into the movie, and it showed itself.
There is so much to this story that many questions are raised and left unanswered, but most of them can be through sequels. Cancelling the apocalypse is not the end. This movie is not for everyone, being pure science fiction and has loads of action throughout, but it is very well-made, even with the cheesy moments (momentum can be funny, to those who've seen it)
on October 7, 2013
That this movie had such a poor showing at the U.S. box office is a total shame. I dare anyone to watch the first hour of say any of the Transformer or Fast-and-something-something-Furious films and then the first hour of this flick and tell me they really belong in the same "summer blockbuster" category.
That being said, this is a Guillermo del Toro film and with it comes his blending of drama, mysticism, mythical-demonism and tongue-in-cheek social commentary. If you loved Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy/Hellboy 2, or Chronos AND you like the anime/Japanese-SciFi humanity vs. BIG monsters genre, then you're going to love this film... and chances are good, even if you don't, you'll get sucked into it anyway.
The acting is acceptable for the cast he had to work with... The leads give solid performances, the secondary roles are a bit caricatured at best, but that's also a del Toro signature. My biggest gripe was that a number of secondary characters looks just like the male lead... to the point that I got confused a few times as to which was which.
The special effects are really quite amazing... all the detail and high-octane ballast of a typical Michael Bay Boo(b)m-fest, with none of the empty after taste. del Toro's use of continuity shoots and live-set/green-screen blending could teach the folks at Skywalker Ranch a thing or two, as well. He get's really great performances and dynamism in his action sequences by seamlessly blending real action with computer-animation in a way that makes the audience care about what's going on in the scene and not just blind/deafened by it.
1) Structure - The film actually has 3 acts and each one establishes more back-story to the three main characters and the cloud of secondary and minor characters.
2) Character-driven - By the end of the film, I genuinely care about all of the characters and the challenges they face entering the final act, rare in a sci-fi action flick.
3) Hail to The Geeks - Instead of just making the geeky characters of the story comedic foils or even worse, conduits for deus ex machina, the geeks of this story play a critical part in both the development of the main plot and the enriching of the whole world the story establishes.
4) Length - This is a long film... it takes its time building up and then takes its time delivering the final show-down, but it delivers and delivers quite well.
5) Romance that doesn't suck - The one romantic thread in the film doesn't devolved into an obligatory sex scene or love-at-first-sight idiocy... it's based on a bond between two people that grows as the story develops and has a solid, mutual basis of existing between them (both characters having survived terrible experiences and still healing from them).
6) Creativity - The elements all seem very cliche at first... Big monsters, Big robots, FIGHT! But the more the story expands the more del Toro's extreme attention to details and unique styling become a center piece to the film... He's oozing with creative genre-bending juice and this film is like an entire fruitbasket of it.
1) Pace... This is a long movie and at times I felt like it was having to go out of its way to provide narrative exposition over weaving critical back-plot points into the story development.
2) Pace... There are times I was glad I was watching this with a rewind button. This could be due to del Toro's Spanish-speaking background where rapid-fire dialog, full of sub-context and parallel conversations is a norm (not being racist/culturally insensitive here, just noting the nature of the language and how it's spoken). While I enjoy this realistic banter, round-robin approach to dialog (think anything Joss Whedon has produced), it can make it hard to keep track of characters and sub-plot.
Here's to hoping this flick has a nice long sub-culture existence in years to come!