FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim

PacificRimPoster


I remember back in 2008 when I saw the trailers for Iron Man. My hubby was excited for it but I kept rolling my eyes when it came on and said how silly and vapid it looked, only to be bowled over when I finally got around to seeing it. It’s the same case with this one, only this time my hubby agreed with me that it looked just like another loud popcorn movie, nothing more than another Transformers movie mixed with Independence Day. Well, I guess the lesson I learned once again is ‘don’t judge a movie by its trailer(s)’ 😀

The plot (yes there IS one, in case some of you are wondering) is nothing we’ve never heard before but it’s played out quite efficiently here. The swift exposition at the beginning showed us that a war between humankind and a bunch of humongous sea creatures called Kaiju (Japanese for strange beast) have been going on for some time. The narrator, Raleigh Becket, was only five when the first attack began in San Francisco. He’s a former pilot of this man-made giant robots called Jaeger (German for the hunter) who left the force when his co-pilot brother got killed in battle. We learn that it takes two pilots to control each of those Jaegers, whose minds are locked in a neural bridge called ‘The Drift.’ Apparently, the deeper the bond between them, the better they fight.’

PacRim_KaijuAttackSF

Right away I was pretty absorbed by the story and the characters, and what’s at stake at the seemingly-inevitable apocalypse as these Kaijus have become stronger and more relentless with each attack. Fans of giant monsters movies like Godzilla, etc. would have an especially enjoyable time watching the fight scenes of Kaiju vs. Jaegers. The  I have to admit that though I’m not into monster movies, I too was caught up in the whole spectacle!

The fight scenes are well-staged and though it was certainly loud and bombastic, it didn’t have the dizzying effect like the battle scenes in Man of Steel. Though the battles between the steel vs organic giants are quite relentless, there’s a constant reminder that these aren’t simply mindless robots that are fighting, but there are people inside these steel beasts that get hurt with each punch. The film certainly lives by its motto ‘Go Big or Go Extinct’ as the scale is just massive, but yet it’s not bloated in terms of content. Seems like each scene has a purpose that justifies its 2 hrs 11 min run-time. The meticulous amount of details of the set pieces are also muy impressive. Each of these Jaeger have a name, and the main hero is called Gypsy Danger – the only remaining analog robot, and in one interview, del Toro said it’s meant to resemble a WWII fighter jet calling it “a mixture of deco skyscraper and John Wayne.”

PacRim_GypsyDanger

I give props to Guillermo del Toro for his unbridled passion for his $180 pet project, fusing it with digital artistry and spectacle worth raving about. He said in interviews that Pacific Rim contains all his bucket list rolled into one movie, and it shows! I’m glad that during the fight scenes, the director didn’t resort to quick cuts or blur effect so we’re still able to make out just what the heck is going on. What I appreciate most of all, is how emotionally satisfying it is. THAT ultimately, is what makes a movie so gratifying and memorable.

The last movie I saw that del Toro directed was Pan’s Labyrinth, which was excellent albeit too disturbingly violent for my taste. No doubt this movie is far more accessible and commercial than the 2006 fantasy drama, but del Toro’s deft touch and zeal for the material is palpable. He’s assembled the best of the best in the biz, working with ILM (its chief creative officer John Knoll, is the co-creator of Photoshop) on the SFX, as well as composer Ramin Djawadi on a rousing score that already becomes my personal favorite!

PacificRim_Stills

Acting-wise, I think everyone is pretty well-cast. 33-year-old Brit Charlie Hunnam (of the Sons of Anarchy TV show), is pretty decent as Raleigh, and he’s got a nice narrating voice. He’s also got a nice chemistry with Rinko Kikuchi (THAT girl from Babel), and the martial arts training session is brimming with sexual tension. But to me, the real STAR is the hunky and charismatic Idris Elba. I’ve liked him since I saw him Rocknrolla years ago and he’s always been fun to watch. But man, he’s so incredibly magnetic in this movie! He’s got such a strong screen presence, plus he looks fantastic in that Jaeger pilot suit I barely noticed anyone else in that Shatterdome facility once he shows up! That ‘cancelin’ the apocalypse’ speech rates right up there with Bill Pullman’s speech in ID-4.

IdrisElbaCancelinApocalypse
Yes the speech is corny… but it works!!

The supporting cast deliver some of the funniest parts, most notably Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the oft-bickering scientists, and del Toro’s regular Ron Perlman as a Kaiju black market honcho. I love the creative character names, too: Elba’s Stacker Pentecost, Perlman’s Hannibal Chau, Day’s Newton Geiszler.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is definitely one of the most fun I’ve had this year watching a movie! Despite the predictable plot — the ending echoes other disaster movies like again, ID-4 and Armageddon — this movie still has some fresh concepts to set this one apart. In fact, I think action directors Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay have some things to learn from del Toro, as he’s able to deliver a visual feast without falling into the ‘style over substance’ trap. Plenty of eye candy and thrilling action, but not devoid of emotion either, what’s not to like? When Geiszler shouted ‘That’s two-thousand five-hundred tons of awesome!’ I can’t say he’s exaggerating!

We saw the screening in IMAX 3D at our local theater and the picture quality is the best I’ve seen in a while. My hubby and I plan to see this again in the next couple of weeks, maybe even at the real IMAX. Depending on the box office receipt, I wager that this movie is going to revive the big-monster movie genre… for better or for worse!

P.S. Do stay for a bit after the end credits. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

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What do you think of Pacific Rim and/or monster movies in general?

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81 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim

    1. Y’know, I’m generally not a big del Toro fan either, but I have to give credit where its due. He did a great job with this one.

    1. Wait til you hear Idris say it in the movie! Even after hearing it in the trailers so many times, it’s still awesome in context! 😀

    1. I think you and your little guy will love this Keith, I have a good feeling! Visually it’s a marvel but there are some emotional moments and surprising character arcs.

  1. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    To quote an often used line from a Japanese Anime drawn, US cartoon series with superb villain voice work from Clancy Brown, Bruce Campbell and others titled, ‘Megas XLR’.

    “Chicks dig giant robots!”

  2. Awesome review! I’m gonna try to see it next week but it’s hard to find someone to go with me because of the monsters vs robots premise 🙂 Djawadi is such an amazing composer I’m gonna try to give the soundtrack a listen soon.

    1. I wish we lived close by, I’d so go with you to this again 😀 You are sooo in for a treat as a big fan of Idris. He just erm, ‘consumed’ the screen. I mean, the first time he appeared in a military uniform, I was mesmerized… so by the time he showed up in that Jaeger pilot suit I was done for!!! He made a quick comment about the suit being tighter than he thought, oh man, such a tease!!

      I wasn’t familiar w/ Djawadi but I’m definitely gonna look out for more of his work now.

      1. Tighter than he thought, huh? THEN WHY DIDN’T HE TAKE IT OFF? 😀

        You should listen to his 3 Game of Thrones soundtracks, some of the best scores I’ve ever heard.

        1. Ahahaha, you are obsessed girl, obsessed!! Speaking of which, you have seen his movie w/ Beyonce that’s actually called Obsessed right? I bet he’s shirtless in that one 😀

          Did you ever post Djawadi’s GOT score? I definitely have to give that a listen soon.

            1. Thanks!! Oh I remember the one you posted in May but I missed the June one. I somehow forgot his name, but he’s now the second guy named Ramin whom I admire musically. Another Iranian-born Rami (Karimloo) played the Phantom in the London stage of Phantom of the Opera and he has an amazing voice!!

              I do hope Djawadi gets to score more films in the future.

  3. I can’t say the trailers did much for me outside of “it’s giant robots fighting giant monsters”, but all these positive reviews have made me really excited to check it out. Hoping to see it this weekend! 😀

    1. Hi William, hope all is well. Oh the trailers didn’t do anything for me either, that’s why this is such a big surprise to me. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

  4. Interesting you mentioned Iron Man in your opening, I kept thinking about that movie when I heard the score…. yes, it seems it was by the same person – Ramin Djawadi. This movie really was fun. Bay & Emmerich definitely needs to learn a thing or two from Del Toro.

    1. Hi Asrap! I didn’t realize until I wrote my review that Djawadi had scored Iron Man as well, what an interesting coincidence! Glad you enjoyed this too man, it really was fun!

  5. Ted S.

    Sounds like a fun movie, hopefully I’ll win a couple of free passes to see it at the IMAX theater next week. And yes I’m going to laugh out loud when I hear the line “Today we are cancelling the Apocalypse!”, I burst out laughing when I first saw the trailer. It would’ve been much more hilarious had Cruise say it since he was supposed to play that role. Glad he dropped out, he doesn’t fit the role.

    1. I’m super glad they didn’t cast Tom Cruise in Idris’ place, man it just wouldn’t work! I think the physique of the actor (read: his height & built) is pretty important in this role and also that dignified aura which Idris has in spades. I like Cruise but he’s just so wrong for the role and yeah, can’t imagine him saying THAT line without drawing an uproarious laughter!

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    1. Hi Fernando! I hope I’m not overselling this ahah. I honestly dug this movie, which surprises me most as I’m usually not into this type of movie. I hope you give this a shot… let me know what you think!

      1. I don’t think you’re overselling it. Also, don’t feel pressured, I’m not basing my decision on just your review 🙂 But all I’ve read so far praise it. So that has gotten me interested.

        1. Phew! (breathing a sigh of relief)

          Yeah I was quite encouraged by the critics’ reviews too. Believe it or not I almost didn’t go to the screenings, but I’m glad I did!!

  7. I was underwhelmed. The concept and general plot was very interesting, and the action scenes were everything Michael Bay wished he could have done for “Transformers,” but the characters were either bland or annoying, and none had chemistry with each other. On top of that the dialogue was simply terrible.

    1. Hi Jamie! Some of the dialog are pretty corny, but I don’t think it was entirely horrible. I actually like some of the characters’ arcs (esp. Idris’), but of course in any movie there’s bound to be some one-dimensional characters. Ah well, too bad you didn’t enjoy this.

  8. Great review Ruth and so glad you enjoyed it so much! I’m hoping to catch it some time over the next week. We’re getting Monsters University this week too and I don’t think I’ve been as excited about two films coming out on the same day. What a double bill that’d be! 😉

    1. Oooh! That’d be a great double bill! I like Monsters U too, such endearingly hilarious characters. Hope you like Pac Rim, Chris!

  9. hey Ruth! Great review as usual. I’m so glad to hear that you found some fresh action elements in this movie and enjoyed it! Guillermo Del Toro has always been a favorite of mine, so it’s goes without saying that I’m excited for this one. Thanks for the tip about staying for the end credits as well!

    1. Thanks Raul! There are quite a few things to appreciate here, even though the concept isn’t exactly groundbreaking. If you like del Toro then you might enjoy this more!

  10. Good review Ruth. Even though the script blew terribly, the movie is still a bunch of fun. I just wish there was more attention paid to the characters, their developments, and all of the lines that came out their mouths.

    1. Thanks! I think I had a lot of fun watching this that I didn’t mind the dialog so much. I didn’t expect heavy character development from this, so I was fine with how they handled it. I actually like Idris’ character arc in relation to Mako.

  11. WOOHOO!! Loved it!! Watched in IMAX last night–mind blown! I am a huge monster fan (of all kinds) and this was incredible.

    And yes! the score was amazing–had to go buy it! So much good stuff–despite the simplicity of the story and predictability. The few negatives were drowned out by sheer awesomeness. 😉

    Now to write my review this weekend and not sound like an excited 10 year old–ha! 😀

    Great review! Later!

    1. Glad to hear you love it too! I might go and rewatch it in the proper IMAX next weekend. Yep, the good outweighs the bad certainly. The score is definitely awesome, I listened to it at the gym yesterday. I’ll check out your review soon!

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  14. It’s easy to be fooled by trailers. They all look the same.

    And the funny thing is, I never would’ve seen this (much less been excited about it) if it wasn’t a del Toro film. You can tell he had so much fun making this and tipping his cap to all of his favorite movies. And that kind of fun translates to the audience.

    1. Hi John! Well the thing w/ Pac Rim trailer is they just look so loud and vapid whilst the movie is actually so much better. You’re right that the fun del Toro had comes across in the film, I hope it pays off for him financially.

  15. Pingback: Pacific Rim (2013) Review | Tim's Film Reviews

  16. I used to watch those old Japanese monster movies (Kaiju) on TV as a child. Things like Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, even King Kong vs. Godzilla! They weren’t superior in terms of special effects, but they captivated me as a child because they had a sense of fun.

    That’s why this worked for me. It’s impressive that even though you aren’t into monster movies, you enjoyed this so much. I guess that’s a tribute to Guillermo’s craft that the battle sequences excelled as much as they did. Glad you enjoyed this so much!

    1. Hi Mark! So Pac Rim is so right up your alley!

      Yeah, kudos to del Toro for actually making a believer out of me. I never thought I’d like this movie, let alone love it enough to see it again.

  17. WOW! Must have been good if it knocked your highly anticipated Man of Steel down so quickly! Awesome write up! I would like to check this out (it honestly hasn’t been something I have been looking forward to), the reviews have been so good. Unfortunately Tim notified me that I will only be able to watch it when it comes mid August.

    1. Ahah yeah, I’d never expect that either Zoë! But I guess it’s nice when that happens, being surprised (in a good way) at the movies 😀

      Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did when you go see it. Gonna see it again tomorrow night actually.

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  21. Carcotas

    Within the opening 15 or so minutes Charlie Hunnam’s voice-over establishes the reality of a future where monsters (the Kaiju) repeatedly invade earth, to stem this humans have created giant robots (Jaegers) to combat them in increasingly badass iterations. This opening does a great job in conveying the scope of a film which is big, not just regular big, but like, Jason Biggs in 1999 bigg. entering the cinema from a world where these events rarely occur is initially a lot to throw at the audience, but it’s handled so effectively and without tongue in cheek that it quickly becomes a world I had a blast experiencing. Maybe it was the incredible effects shots of robot related destruction used as a throwaway shots, but what I think really sold the opening sequence and the film as a whole is the enthusiasm Del Toro clearly has for the story he’s telling.

    The cast is essentially a rogues gallery of TV’s better dramas playing variations on roles they’ve nailed in the past (see: Elba, Hunnam and Klattenhoff) and some inspired casting of It’s Always Sunny’s Charlie Day who, as should be expected provides some effective comedic relief. Added onto this the score comes courtesy of Ramin Djawadi who’s masterful use of themes on Game of Thrones is carried over to this film for some great emotional cues and many a rad motif courtesy of Tom Morello on guitar.

    It’s appropriate Del Toro has a Frankenstein adaptation lined up as a follow up project as Pacific Rim can at times can feel stitched together from all the sources of inspiration the film has. This comes from many areas such as Japanese manga, the personalities of the actors from previous films and the imagery of robots destroying buildings which transformers ran into the ground. But Del Toro succeeds time and time again at allowing these disparate elements to fit together believably by way of some very confident filmmaking. I could easily take issue with the oft hammy dialogue and macho relationships but where the film succeeds in other areas and revels in creativity trumps the dissatisfaction one could take from these scenes. I also found Hunnams character a tad lacking in charisma and internal conflict but whatever, it’s not the end of the world. Oh wait, yes it is hahahaha…

    The films successes go beyond its imagery and continued invention within battle scenes as the script is very economical when it comes to pacing. The films battle scenes are so engaging and exciting due to clearly established stakes present which left me devoid of the “action fatigue” transformers loves to throw my way. And although the Kaiju battles seem to never be in short supply, the film essentially follows the rule of three when it comes to battle sequences and left me oh so satisfied.

    In conclusion, I give it points for being one of the funner summer blockbusters in recent memory, for being an original property and for its sheer tenacity to exist which all amount to what is just a darn good time at the movies.

    More about the movie you can also find it here
    http://movieinfodb.com/en/movie/68726/Pacific+Rim-2013

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  23. Awesome Review Ruthie. You’re right about the clear and concise action scenes. I didn’t think about it before, but the sequences are very visible, unlike MAN OF STEEL, however, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that PACIFIC RIM is a better movie. I love the slow pans and creeps up the Kaijus, letting us take it all in before shit went haywire, visually. Very good point.

    This is one of those movies, where I spent less time analyzing and more time gushing and freaking about its awesome-ness… as evidenced by my knee jerk Review here:
    http://www.blankpagebeatdown.com/movie-review-pacific-rim-2013/

    Hunnam was definitely surprising to me, and I didn’t realize he was the same kid from GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS which I loved a while ago. Great work, as usual Ruth.

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