Director Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”,) dark fantasy and horror Academy Award® winner, sure does love his monsters and robots.
Del Toro is bringing his usual ‘A’ game to the ‘B’ movie genre, via the new, action packed, sci fi blockbuster, “Pacific Rim.” A fan of Japanese pop culture, del Toro wanted to introduce audiences to Mecha, a Japanese science fiction genre that centers around robots or machines, Kaiju, the Japanese word for “strange beast”, and Jaeger, from the German word for “hunter”, referring to giant, anthropomorphized mechanical devices built to combat the extraterrestrial threats. In short, this is not your average monsters vs. robots movie.
The story takes place in the not too distant future, 2020, where humans battle the Kaiju — enormous, Godzilla-esque beasts that come from beneath the ocean floor to wreak havoc on coastal cities (San Francisco, Manila and Cabo San Lucas are destroyed before the credits.) When conventional weapons fail, massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge are deployed. But even the Jaegers prove nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes: a washed up former pilot, played by Charlie Hunnam (“Queer as Folk”, “Sons of Anarchy”, Children of Man”) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi, Academy Award® nominated for “Babel”) -who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse. Think Transformers meets Godzilla on steroids or Iron Man after eating a nuclear reactor.
“Pacific Rim’s” action scenes play at warp speed, but del Toro is smart enough to let quiet moments play out, and to interject some very funny moments from Charlie Day (“It Always Rains in Philadelphia”), Ron Pearlman (“Hell Boy”, “Sons of Anarchy”,) and the exceedingly odd Burn Gorman (“Torchwood”, “Game of Thrones”.)
Not just for fan boys, “Pacific Rim” should appeal to anyone with a fondness for “Godzilla.” No “B” movie here, this one’s definitely an “A.”
The Bottom Line: “Pacific Rim” is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously – no subtext – just rockem sockem fun. Its smart use of 3D makes it worth seeing in the theater. As to the young ones, slighter older kids will love it, and the violence isn’t any worse than what they watch on TV every day.
Rated PG13, 131 min