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Pacific Rim (Special Edition) (DVD)]]>
If the prospect of two-plus hours of 250-foot mechanical men pummeling enormous alien creatures from another dimension is just what you've been waiting for, oh, boy, does Guillermo del Toro have a treat for you. The celebrated director--one might even say visionary--has pulled off the most elaborate B-movie heist ever with this huge-budget special effects extravaganza that revels in catchphrase cliché dialogue, a howlingly obvious script, and the most breathtaking homage to Japanese monster and mecha cinema, manga, and comic tradition. It's all by design, of course, and is a stunning spectacle that also acts as antidote to the bloated, self-important superhero genre and typical bombastic Hollywood tent-pole fare. Pacific Rim has plenty of bloat and bombast, mind you. But it's in the service of a wondrously geeky story that throws all logic and seriousness to the wind, transporting the viewer to a realm of childlike popcorn escapism no matter their age. A dense and breathless prologue dumps us into the near-future global warfare of Kaiju vs. Jaeger. Kaiju are reptilian monstrosities that emerge from deep in the sea through a portal that leads to a world where Kaijus are systematically bred to destroy. They annihilate coastal cities and claim millions of lives before the world's citizens band together to fight back. The humans build fantastic robots called Jaegers (German for fighters) that are able to vanquish the early Kaiju enemies by employing "pilots" who drive the mechanized behemoths in pairs, joining minds in a process known as the Drift. But as the years go by, the war has taken a toll on the humans and the Jaegers, both of whom are nearly defeated. From beginning to end there's really no point in asking questions or trying to calculate details about the outrageous goings-on in the world of Pacific Rim. This is a pure thrill ride ruled by del Toro, the wild visual flair of his artistry and his sheer delight for wallowing in tropes and genre chestnuts leading at full volume. The cast is mainly window dressing for the astounding computer images. The pilots Charlie Hunnam, Max Martini, Rob Kazinsky, and Rinko Kikuchi are merely types. The same goes for Idris Elba, but his glowering presence as the unwavering commander is the best real-life thing about Pacific Rim. A pair of nerdy scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) add to the plot (simple as it is), though their primary purpose is wacky comic relief. Del Toro favorite and Hellboy himself, Ron Perelman steals his few short scenes as a bootlegger in Kaiju corpses. His character says a lot about the movie's self-effacing attitude. Pacific Rim is deeply in cahoots with itself over the ridiculousness of the story, but also delights in the awesomeness of its invention. The action is both coherent and mind-blowing, which is why most people will find it such a kick. Just like driving a Jaeger, throw your head into the battle and hang on. --Ted Fry
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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.
I think the movie was excellent really, all around great and believable acting for the subject matter. The effects were excellent and very believable.
There's a ton of extras included, I normally don't watch the extras for movies, but I started and kept watching them all. I think there is 14 of them in total, I just sat there and watched them all after I watched the movie. I should also note it's full screen/widescreen with no black bars on the bottom and top like most movies are.
I grabbed this on a lightning deal so it was inexpensive and still well worth it.
THE STORY (contains spoilers): In the near future, gigantic monsters ("kaiju") begin appearing through a mysterious rip/breech in space, at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. World governments put aside their differences and work together to construct massive robots ("jaegers") to combat the freaky beasties toe-to-toe. The creatures begin to be defeated and things level out for a time, until larger and even more powerful kaiju arrive and the out-muscled jaegers start losing. Panicky politicians choose to funnel war chest resources towards the erection of huge walls in an effort to fence off the kaiju. The Jaeger Program will be scrapped once the walls are completed. The military leader of the jaegers and two unconventional scientists theorize that a nuclear device detonated midway along the dimensional breech connecting the kaiju world with ours could effectively collapse it. The four remaining Jaegers are transported to a base in China and plans are made to spearhead one final assault on the portal and seal it forever. But their greatest challenge yet awaits the jaegers & their courageous pilots, as three kaiju arrive simultaneously to stand guard at the edge of the breech, determined to crush the last of the jaegers and wipe out mankind.
THOUGHTS: Yes, this motion picture is basically a live-action version of several interchangeable Japanese mech-anime toons. The story is rather simple-minded, the script is littered with corny dialog and the majority of the film is focused almost entirely on mega monster vs. titanic robot battles, at the expense of reducing the human characters to one-dimensional caricatures. But so what?!? This movie is enormous fun!!! If you love those classic kaiju collisions from Toho studios or cherish the mythical stop-motion monsters created by effects maestro Ray Harryhausen then this modern homage should really float your boat. It's lightweight popcorn entertainment that doesn't ask you to think too much, just sit back and watch huge robots punch the crap out of giant slimy monsters! It's a film for the 8-year old in all of us. The CGI is impressive, giving the Jaegers & kaiju a wonderful look that is both classic, yet hyper-realistic at the same time. The brutal battles evoke the grand days of Godzilla grappling with MechaGodzilla, Johnny Sokko's mechanical pal Giant Robot punching out the bizarre beasts from Planet Gargoyle, and the legion of anime robots from the 70's, 80's & 90's (Mazinger, Gaiking, Raydeen and Voltron, among others). If the names in that last sentence didn't stir any memories then you might not find much to rejoice about with this film, and that's fine. PACIFIC RIM isn't for everybody. Sure, I could nitpick the film, too, but I'm honestly just amazed & delighted that it even got made. It's so cool that Legendary Picture's head honcho, Thomas Tull, also happens to be a huge monster movie geek. Tull's money + super monster-nerd Guillermo Del Toro's crazy imagination = terrific reasons for fans of the good old days of giant monster mashing to shout with joy. If you want to see this same basic plot from the old days then pick up a copy of the Japanese TV show JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT. The similarities are much too close to be mere coincidence. In fact, 3/4 JOHNNY SOKKO + 1/4 ROBOT JOX = PACIFIC RIM.
THE BLU-RAY: This 3-disc hi-def presentation of PACIFIC RIM is an excellent effort. Picture looks exceptionally sharp and the sound thunders. (Seriously, the mix is level but LOUD!) The set includes both Blu-ray & DVD formats of the film, along with a separate Blu-ray of special features that contains a slew of great behind-the-scenes & "Making of" bonus features to up the value.