<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Diego Klattenhoff, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Clifton Collins Jr, Ron Pearlman
Inspite of all the faux fan boy oohing and aahing over the release of this film I had little expectation from Pacific Rim after watching the trailer. It’s great for geeks who live their sci-fi action adventure fantasies through film. But it’s a pretty bad movie nevertheless.
People expect too much from director Guillermo Del Toro. Sure I loved his Pan’s Labyrinth. His Hellboy movies are great too. His recent ‘horror’ movie MAMA was pretty bad. And now for Pacific Rim the good studios of Warner Bros have given him lots of money to make a movie about robots fighting with alien dinosaurs in the middle of the ocean and several cities that are reduced to rubble.
Pacific Rim actually starts off with a prologue about how a chasm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean opened up, spewing out one alien monster – Kaiju – after another that devastated several cities before mankind decided to retaliate by building ‘monsters’ of their own. The Jaeger (German for ‘hunter’) robots are piloted by not one but two (apparently this is being touted as a technically brilliant idea among the movie’s admirers!) people who mind meld (sounds Vulcan) in a ‘neural drift’ to operate the robots. This doesn’t always work so smoothly though.
Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and his brother operate one robot called Gipsy Danger until a Kaiju rips it up and kills his brother. After a mandatory period of sulking he is re-enlisted by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who runs the Jaeger programme that is soon to be mothballed due to its ineffectiveness in battling the threat. They’re going to build a wall around the cities instead!
The usual American cocky dialogue and rabble-rousing music interspersed with lots of bad acting and plagiarised lines and scenes (two references from the far superior Independence Day including a ‘we will survive’ speech by Elba that is pathetic) give you not much to get into the characters. The battle scenes all look the same. Sure they look nice and the music gets you pumped up. The young guy in the seat next to me was sighing, face palming and squealing during some of the battles. His girlfriend tried not to look too embarrassed.
Charlie Hunnam as the lead character is exceedingly dull and pairing him up with Rinko Kikuchi, playing the character Mako Mori, seems a total mismatch. Also, the scene where they try to establish a ‘connection’ between the two in a martial arts fight to prove they can ‘drift’ together isn’t sufficient explanation. There is a flashback sequence where the character Mako Mori is seen as a child running from a giant Kaiju, which I found the only part of the film that had some heart. The child actor Mana Ashida has done the only real acting in this film.
Idris Elba hams through most of the film though he does manage to elicit a chuckle or two because of his authority figure badass attitude. The two scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are over-the-top hyper for some reason.
People have talked about the action being great. Is that all that makes a movie? I say we’ve seen it again and again from Hollywood films nowadays. They seem to be obsessed with blowing things up, with bringing on the apocalypse (even though this movie tries to ‘cancel the apocalypse’) and creating extinction level events that bring the world together. Oblivion, After Earth, World War Z, Man Of Steel, Olympus Has Fallen all have themes of extreme violence, destruction, doomsday and apocalypse disaster porn plots. And the scale of massacre just gets bigger and more boisterous since CGI can now level entire cities with a single mouse click. It’s almost like their willing these things to happen. So that maybe we can band together and rebuild a new world, considering this one is falling to pieces already!
Now some fan boy geeks have said it is an homage to the old films where it was only about battles. Some cite anime examples. Sure I remember the old Godzilla films. And Giant Robot battling giant eyes made of rubber. But those had character and sole. They were ahead of their times and didn’t have CGI. We appreciated them because they’re all we had. Now we have Star Trek, Star Wars, The Avengers, Iron Man, Man Of Steel, Oblivion, Jack The Giant Slayer, Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters, Snow White & the Huntsman and lots more. And they’re all sorta blending in to each other in a giant CGI collage. Some of the aforementioned movies do have a heart and depth of characters but most don’t. I had more fun watching the last Transformers: Dark of the Moon film!!
I’m a fan of robots but frankly watching bland actors pilot inanimate robots to punch dinosaurs that look like sea creatures doesn’t really get me going. You may still enjoy the action so go ahead if you’ve been ‘waiting to see it’. In my opinion so many end up building hype in their own heads even before they see the film that they’re almost too scared to watch it without the rose tinted glasses. Maybe the 3D glasses have something to do with it!
PS: 3 stars because it’s a good looking bad movie that fan boys will still get their jollies from!