Review: Pacific Rim (Chris Bumbray's take)
PLOT: When a race of giant monsters, dubbed “Kaiju” arise from the sea, mankind's only hope are the “Jaegers”, giant robots operated by two or three pilots who are linked by a psychic connection called “The Drift”. When his brother is killed during a drift, pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) drops out of the Jaeger program, only to be brought back into the fold five years later by his former commander, Stacker (Idris Elba), as the Jaegers face an apocalyptic standoff with the Kaiju.
REVIEW: Sometimes people just opt to dump on a movie for no reason. PACIFIC RIM- despite coming from genre maestro Guillermo Del Toro- has been all but christened the next big flop by the press, despite the fact that the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive (and not just from the fanboys either). Especially funny are the reviews that call the premise “dumb” or “unbelievable”. I mean come-on people! Isn't this supposed to be fantasy? And why are superheroes and alien robots defending humanity perfectly acceptable, while giant monsters from the sea are not? What's the criteria for “good” fantasy, and “bad” fantasy?
People are seemingly looking for any reason to pick on PACIFIC RIM, but do yourselves a favour. Forget all the negative press and stories about its budget, tracking, etc. The only important question is whether or not PACIFIC RIM is entertaining. I'm here to tell you that not only is the answer to that a definite “hell yes” but PACIFIC RIM is just about the most fun I've had at the movies since SKYFALL. As much as I liked STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and MAN OF STEEL, I think PACIFIC RIM has them beat.
The best thing about PACIFIC RIM is that it's just so much damn fun. From the time this sucker started I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face that was so wide my cheeks are still killing me hours later. You have to hand it to Del Toro for jumping right into the insanity with the opening teaser, with it only taking him about five minutes to (perfectly) set up the Kaiju, and the rockstar-like Jaeger pilots. From there del Toro plunges the film into wall-to-wall action and insanity, with the first of many sea battles pitting Hunnam's Jaeger against Kaiju that could have emerged from a sixties Toho movie-albeit much cooler.
Del Toro has said that this is the movie he dreamed about making when he was twelve years old, and sure enough there's a generation of kids that are going to absolutely go gonzo for this, provided that their parents are cool enough to take them. As for the rest of us, PACIFIC RIM just might make you feel like you're twelve again, and NOT because it makes you'll feel stupid, but rather that it's just a film infused with so much joy on the behalf of Del Toro and his crew that you can't help but get caught up in it.
“But wait a second Chris,” some will be saying. “How is the story?” Again I say this- it's a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters! Don't go in expecting social commentary, or twists and turns (this isn't ZERO DARK THIRTY people, nor is it supposed to be). It's all about the spectacle, and in a summer filled with eye candy, I guarantee you none have come close to what PACIFIC RIM offers. The gorgeous lensing by DP Guillermo Navarro, which is best appreciated in IMAX 3D, is comparable to Wally Pfister's work with Nolan, or what Roger Deakins did for SKYFALL. It's striking and for once the 3D really adds to the film, although I'd admit that the fact that I saw this on true 70MM on a massive IMAX screen certainly helped, as that's really the ideal way to watch it. This is also a case where every penny of the obviously hefty budget has found it's way on screen, and this is the first time in awhile that CGI has really knocked my socks off.
As for the performances, here's the thing. Everyone does exactly what they're supposed to. Del Toro's got a big heart, and just like he brought heart to HELLBOY he does the same for PACIFIC RIM. Nowhere is that more apparent than the idea of “drifting” with it only working if the two people involved actually have an emotional connection. This means the best pilots are usually parents and their (grown) children, people that are married or in love, or siblings. Giving us characters that care about each other makes us care about them. Some critics are picking on Charlie Hunnam, but I don't really get this as to me he was totally charismatic, and made a likable hero (not to mention that fact that the ladies LOVE the guy). Our leading female heroine Rinko Kikuchi is absolutely adorable, and the bond that springs up between her and Hunnam feels well-thought out and never tacked on. Meanwhile, Idris Elba is a full-on movie-star as their tough commander with a heart of gold (natch), while Ron Perlman shows up later in the film to steal every scene he's in as an unscrupulous black-marketeer comic relief Charlie Day (toned down) has to turn to in an hour of need.
No matter how much I slather over PACIFIC RIM, many are still not going to give it a shot as for some reason the premise seems to offend people. Again, I ask, how is this any dumber than any other tentpole movie that's already come out this summer? People are too cynical, and this isn't a movie for cynics. Del Toro's only goal here is to entertain and make you feel like a kid again. For me, he did exactly that. I really think Del Toro is a master and no matter what happens with PACIFIC RIM, I hope this is just the start of a long-line of hugely ambitious films to have his stamp on them. He's a modern master, and there's more imagination and skill in any of this movie's individual set-pieces than in many other wildly successful movies I've seem lately. If any tent-pole actioner ever deserved to shatter the box office, this is it.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Schmoes, we can't let GROWN UPS 2 beat this at the box office!|