Movie Review: Giant Monster Mash-Up

In the near future, humanity is under attack by giant monsters from the ocean floor called kaiju. Giant robots called jaegers are the primary weapon against the kaiju, each one operated by two people linked by a neural bridge. In a last ditch effort to stop the kaiju once and for all, retired jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is paired with the brilliant-but-untested Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) as leader of what may be humanity’s last stand. Lots and lots of things end up going big badda boom.

Pacific Rim seems like a film of equations many times, something which can be both intriguing and distracting in equal measures. The kaiju are the result of (Godzilla + Lovecraftian terror), the jaegers are the angels of Neon Genesis Evangelion minus the religious overtones, and the whole film seems to set out to prove the theory “Michael Bay + soul = X.” Nothing in the film is truly original, but it also doesn’t necessarily try to be. It’s happy to be an amalgamation of influences, although it also never tries to rise above that.

Director/co-writer Guillermo Del Toro clearly has passion for the material, and that often shines through in his dedication to making the film as entertaining as possible. The monster designs don’t fully live up to his whimsically macabre style, but other touches are pure Del Toro weird comedy, such as an extended cameo by Ron Perlman as a criminal dealing in black market kaiju body parts. The acting is consistently solid, with Hunnam and Kikuchi both performing well on their own and as a duo, and the action sequences are well-staged, well-shot and exciting. The thin, predictable plot never comes close to matching that action, though, and the film tries too hard to have its football-field-sized gatling gun and eat it, too.

Pacific Rim is an entertaining film if not an amazing one. It’s not Del Toro’s worst hour, but it’s also not his finest. If you love giant robots fighting giant monsters, you’re in for a giant treat. If not…well, there’s always Hellboy.

6 out of 10 / B-