It begins with a quick prologue that sets up the basics about how Earth is now regularly assaulted by Kaiju, i.e. giant creatures coming from an interdimensional breach at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, and how humanity has created Jaegers, i.e. big-ass humanoid machines with all kinds of killer weapons, in order to defend itself.
We then get our first big action scene, which happens to be a turning point in the war between robots and monsters. The Kaiju have evolved, it turns out, and the Jaegers are growing obsolete. Cut to 5 years later, with mankind now counting on building enormous walls in order to stop the giant beasts. There are still a few Jaegers left, though, and they’re planning to make a big move in order to end the war by, basically, blowing up the breach. But it won’t be as easy as it sounds…
As directed by Guillermo del Toro, “Pacific Rim” is a visually striking affair, full of brilliantly designed monsters and robots. The action scenes are truly epic and breathtaking, even though they get a bit repetitive after a while. I also sometimes wished they weren’t almost all set at night and/or during rainstorms, as that sometimes made it harder to see what exactly was going on. One more nitpick: there’s often a remoteness to the mayhem. It’s telling that the most affecting scene in the movie is a flashback shown from the point of view of a terrorized little Asian girl, instead of just focusing on the enormous beings beating the crap out of each other. Not that this can’t also be fun!
Now, I’ve yet to write about the human characters, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting. I wasn’t all that into lead actor Charlie Hunnam, who I wish was as charismatic and badass as, say, Casper Van Dien in “Starship Troopers”. But I loved Rinko Kikuchi as the grown-up version of the aforementioned little Asian girl, who’s clearly the heart of the movie. I also enjoyed Idris Elba as the Jaegers’ commanding officer, plus Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as bickering scientists, and of course Ron Perlman as a shady figure from the Hong Kong underground who sells Kaiju remains on the black market.
Is “Pacific Rim” a masterpiece like Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” or something? Hardly, but it’s a really entertaining summer movie that gives you plenty of bang for your buck. It’s 250 foot robots versus 250 foot monsters. What more do you need to know?