by Ken Parker
If you have read other reviews of this movie you will probably have read a positive review and yet, you are still not sure if you want to go. You also don't know too many people who have gone or are planning on going. Why is this?
When I first saw the trailers to this film I had mixed feelings. My gut said that this looks to be a fantastic summer film exactly what I would love to see. I also saw that it could be a Transformers like film that is too loud and confusing with all that giant metal flying all over the screen and a bunch of characters no one cares about screaming and yelling the whole time. I also heard about the projected dollar amounts this film was going to make and thought that perhaps something was bad in this film to create this.
First off, it is the perfect summer film. A summer film is exciting and gets you wrapped into a story that includes plenty of action but also has enough characterization so that words like shallow and one dimensional don't creep into your opinions. For better or worse I though Independence Day was a perfect summer film. These types of films are not without their flaws but are not 'mindless.'
Pacific Rim starts off fast and keeps moving at a breathtaking speed. Thankfully the film doesn't build up the origin over the course of the first part of the film. A brief visual overview with narration gets us up to speed with the Kaijus (giant monsters) and Jaegers (giant human operated mechs). We learn that the Kaijus are coming from a open rift at the bottom of the ocean at the Pacific Rim and that mankind has pooled their resources together to create an army of powerful mechs that have the upper hand against the Kaijus. Within a few minutes we know the story and for those idiots who show up late for the movie – screw you.
The story evolves as we are then introduced to a variety of characters. Each of the characters is given plenty of time to shine with a smattering of flash backs and other reveals that really adds some depth to these people. By the final battle you are rooting for the people and not the monsters. It was especially good to see the character of Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) gel with her co-pilot, Beckett (Charlie Hunnan) as well as her leader, Stacker (Idris Elba). The double team act of Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Geiszler (Charlie Day) adds a fair level of humor to the film which is needed from time to time. Ron Perlman has a memorable part in the film as well.
The film lets up on the gas just enough to give us time to get to know these and other characters but then gets going again with the ever escalating Kaiju attacks. The movie stays within the usual confines of a summer film with the usual rallying speech, the character that needs to prove themselves, the other character that is abrasive and a jerk but in the end, isn't such a bad guy and so on. These standard practices for summer films are needed but Pacific Rim is not without plenty of surprises and deviations from previous movies. The origin of the Kaiju is both surprising and a very interesting twist in the story that really adds some realism to the entire story.
The movie has some excellent music and visuals. The effects are incredible and blow away Transformers. I am not a fan of 3-D but this is the best 3-D film I have ever seen in terms of its use of the technology. If there is one film that you have to see in the theaters and in 3-D, it is this one. Just as Avatar was meant to be seen in 3-D, so to is Pacific Rim. I do plan on seeing the film again in 2-D just to absorb more of the story. I might be still giddy from the film but I felt the plot had no major flaws or concerns.
I am not sure why Pacific Rim stands out over many of the summer films of the past few years. It could be director Guillermo del Toro and his writing with Travis Beacham.
Just a heads up – stay for at least half way through the end credits.
Pacific Rim is a movie that deserves to be seen in the theaters for some many reasons. You don't want to catch it on TV months from now and think “I wished I had seen it in the theaters” because you will.