Before yesterday, I had never seen any giant monster disaster movies. Godzilla, King Kong, and other Kaiju never quite seemed appealing to me, but Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim seemed like a proper summer epic to see. In the trailer, giant monsters and giant robots beat each other mercilessly, and if that alone is enough to get you excited, you should enjoy the movie. Otherwise, you should probably pass since it doesn’t have much else going for it.
In the movie, Kaiju emerge from the sea to terrorize the world. In response, the world decides to build massive robots to fight back. These “Jaegers” require 2 people to join minds to control the robot together and beat down the Kaiju. Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is a Jaegar pilot who suffers a major loss early in the movie and is called back into service several years later by his commanding officer (Idris Elba) when the situation becomes more dire. Assisting them are 2 scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) who try to understand the Kaiju in their own wacky ways.
The visuals of the movie are pretty incredible. As you might imagine, a lot of focus is put on the Jaegers and Kaiju, and there’s great detail in making each one unique. Kaiju are typically inspired by different animals and show different aspects and strengths. The Jaegers are also impressively detailed in the mechanical guts, which adds enough grit to a world with otherwise gleaming, fantastic images.
The plot and character development follow predictable patterns. Naturally, the 2-person design of Jaegers builds in a basis for various relationships. It’s hard to feel that these relationships development organically as they play out in a conventional, forced manner. This isn’t helped much by a generally uninspiring performance by the cast as a whole, though it’s hard to pin the blame on either the script or the acting.
Despite the realism added by the grit, the general science and explanations of the movie are also largely implausible. A minor conflict emerges when the world decides to build walls against the Kaiju, which are predictably destroyed by the first Kaiju assault. Some shady logic also allows a Jaeger to go into combat because it is “nuclear”, not “digital”.
However, if you accept the premise of giant monsters and robots fighting each other, the details of the movie aren’t worth nitpicking. The action of the movie flows along nicely with a few token shots and additions that speak directly to del Toro’s style. Don’t expect to be blown away by the plot, and don’t think too hard about it: if you can resist, you should enjoy the ride and epic feeling of the movie