Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
The first scene in Pacific Rim is a title screen which features two words:
Kaiju: (Japanese) Strange creature or giant monster
Jaeger: (German) Hunter
So just in case you didn’t know… this film is going to be about monsters fighting massive robots.
The basic premise for this film really is rather exciting if incredibly predictable for fans of Power Rangers, Gundam Wing and Evangelion alike. Aliens (The Kaiju) come from underneath the pacific ocean via a portal and attack mankind’s largest cities. Humanity reacts by building giant robots driven by two pilots with their minds synchronized by a machine (Jaegers) to fend off the leviathan like monsters. We meet the films protagonist Raleigh (Hunnam) a famous Jaeger pilot who has abandoned the fight against the Kaiju but is recalled to the programme by his former commanding officer Stacker Pentecost (Elba) and is paired with the young Mako (Kikuchi) to pilot his old robot Gipsy Danger.
We find mankind in this film with very little time remaining before the end of existence. The Jaeger Programme is no longer receiving funding and the size and frequency in which The Kaiju are appearing is increasing. Basically the world is doomed.
But like I said it really is a bit predictable other than the inclusion of visionary director Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Kronos, Pan’s Labyrinth) but we’ll get to him in a minute. Plot wise you’ve seen this movie before, you know, the bad guys seem so invincible that it appears almost insane that anyone is trying to fight back but they inevitably do. This film has a problem with pacing, the action sequences will take your breath away (particularly if you see it in IMAX as is intended) but unfortunately they are limited to three rather short sequences. One at the very beginning and two at the film’s end leaving us with a rather long and plodding middle section where everything that happens is described to us at it happens. It’s disappointing that a director like Del Toro felt his concept was so tricky that he needed to explain through dialogue the eventually of every scene. Similar to Chris Nolan’s ‘Inception’ if you have any sort of brain you understand the film’s plot but if you’re a moron (as Nolan seems to presume) Leanardo DiCaprio spends the entire film telling you what’s going to happen next. I mean you just know that Day and Gorman’s mad scientist characters in Pacific Rim will join forces and solve the mystery of the Kaiju. You know at some point Mako will battle her personal demons to defeat the Kaiju and you know Idris Elba will lose his shit and be awesome… as always.
However, I must take time to say that visually this film is a masterpiece. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen something by Del Toro and been unimpressed. His stamp was left all over last year’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ and it saddened me that he walked from the film’s directorial role due to time issues. Pacific Rim doesn’t disappoint on the eyes at least. The action sequences are superb and take place in a variety of locations and styles keeping the concept of the fights fresh throughout. I mean how can you not enjoy seeing a massive robot smashing the hull of an ocean liner into a monster’s face? Even down to costuming it really is exquisite which almost makes up for the rather sub-par acting if you take Idris Elba and Ron Perlman from this consideration.
Elba as Stacker the Jaeger programme’s long serving director is almost thespian in this film. His final speech in which he screams “Tonight we are cancelling the apocalypse!” borders on Henry V and The St. Crispin’s Day monologue. It’s a slightly cliche role but that’s not Elba’s fault and it really is nice to see a British actor being recognised as one of the best actors on the planet. He’s next set to star as Nelson Mandela in ‘Mandela’ and an Oscar will surely be on the cards for him.
To conclude, if you can look past the cheese in this film and enjoy the action then you’ll come away thinking you’ve seen something amazing. But from a writing perspective this film is a muddle of poor delivery meets fantastic visual spectacle. I found this with ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army‘… hated the plot and the acting but loved watching the movie, maybe this is a Del Toro anomaly?
Thankfully though the film does deal well with the human cost of city crushing battles and shows people managing to find shelter before chaos ensues. Something that ‘Man of Steel’ (see our review) seemed to not consider at all which made me appreciate Pacific Rim a bit more.
After finishing though I did feel the need to go and watch ‘The Power Rangers Movie’ I mean how cool would it have been if The Jaegers all formed into one giant zord… I mean ummm Jaeger…