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Pacific Rim (3D)

2013-08-12 11:44
Pacific Rim
What it's about:

As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

What we thought:

Pacific Rim is a film with a premise that will make many roll their eyes and sigh wearily but that is part of its charm. Sometime in the near future, the world finds itself under attack from gigantic beasts, Kaiju, that clamber from out of the Pacific depths.

Conventional weaponry doesn't make much of an impact and so, it is decided that some countries (I counted China, America, Australia and Russia) will build massive robots, Jaeger, that will act as a defence against the monsters. These machines are far too large and complex to be operated by one pilot, which is why two are needed, so mentally in synch that they can operate their Jaeger while battling the kaiju.

Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) and his brother, Yancy, are two such pilots, two of the best, until Yancy is killed in combat. Without a partner, Raleigh leaves the Jaeger programme and goes into work on the construction of large walls built on the coast, meant to guard against the invading Kaiju. When the Jaeger programme faces being decommissioned, its commander, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), calls Raleigh back for one last ditch attempt at taking the Kaiju down once and for all.

See? Its a film about people piloting giant robots, fighting monsters from the deep and you already know whether you want to see it or not. This is a film squarely aimed at 10-year-olds and those of us who haven't drifted too far from our ten year old selves.

What I liked was how earnest the film was. We live in an age where too many films put on an air of hip cynicism that becomes wearying after a while. Pacific Rim avoids that. Its a cartoon brought to life and the film knows it and flaunts it. Guillermo del Toro really is the perfect director to helm this sort of material. He knows it through and through and his passion for it is a large part of what gives the film its energy.

Watching it, I was reminded of the animated shows I grew up with, like Robotech and Voltron. Pacific Rim is like one of those cartoons brought to life and like those shows, it exists at a kind of exaggerated level. There's enough detail packed into the film's design that gives its world a sense of being lived in. The characters are drawn in broad strokes and speak the kind of clumsy dialogue that rings false unless projected with the conviction you'd only buy with animation (but still works here). 

Charlie Hunnam is fine as Raleigh Becket, who is basically this film's Luke Skywalker, though his accent sounds odd for some reason. Idris Elba is General Patton in the future (and toward the end, he gets a real 'Patton' moment), while Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the top scientists in the Jaeger programme make for a fun comedy double-act.

Despite having the least amount of screentime, I'd hazard that Ron Perlman gives the most memorable performance, helped no doubt, by some magnificently ridiculous costuming and make-up. Rinko Kukuchi, as Hunnam's co-pilot, is probably the least over-the-top performance here but she does get some cool moments to shine.

All that being said, there's a flipside to the film being a cartoon brought to life: The story does move with the thudding economy usually seen in animated shows. And, early in, you might find yourself struggling to get into it (though once the film dispenses with setup and gets on with its story, that is less of a problem). In the hands of any other Hollywood hack, these faults may have weighed poorly on Pacific Rim but in the hands of director Del Toro, it works despite its flaws.

Pacific Rim is a hugely entertaining film. It's filled with moments that thrill and often have you wanting to cheer at the screen. Your enjoyment of it will depend on your willingness to take it at its terms. Once you get into it, you'll find a film that is action packed, inventive and often quite funny.

Here at the close of another blockbuster season packed to the rafters with spectacle that pummels audiences more than it entertains us, Pacific Rim delivers what I thought was often so sorely lacking from all the other big budget films: Fun.

A big, brash, hugely entertaining film that plays like a 90s kids' TV cartoon brought to life - and flaunts it.


Add Your Review

(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
LaurenH 2013-08-05 08:13 AM
  • Rating:
Great film. Super fun. 80's and 70's kiddies will love it.
Andrew Nieuwmeyer 2013-09-03 03:16 PM
  • Rating:
Good heavens! What a load of crap that was.
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