Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific RimIn the future, a portal opens in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, unleashing colossal monsters known as Kaiju onto the major cities of Earth. As the creatures grew bigger and more robust, humanity devised behemoths of their own — robots called Jaegers, controlled by two neurologically compatible pilots — as part of an inter-dimensional arms race. Having lost his brother in a battle off the Alaskan coast, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) must synch with a new co-pilot (played by Rinko Kikuchi) if he and his Jaeger Gypsy Danger are to stay in the game.

It is generally understood that stereoscopy works best when dealing with vast differences in scale — whether it’s Spider-man standing atop a Manhattan skyscraper or a young Indian boy floating adrift in an immense ocean — and the same is true of Pacific Rim. Whenever humans are shown fleeing from monolithic creatures — whether monstrous or man-made — the results are quite simply spectacular; there’s with a craftsmanship to the special effects which immediately sets it apart from the likes of Michael Bay’s Transformers.

Of course, scale isn’t only of importance when dealing with 3D, for it gives weight and context to events which might otherwise be difficult to fully comprehend. The audience needs a stake in any conflict, and this is best achieved by putting recogniseably human characters front and centre. The most memorable scenes in Pacific Rim do this extremely well; an astonishing sequence relatively early on pitches two unsuspecting beach-combers against a malfunctioning Jaeger (or Megazord, if you grew up with Power Rangers), while a particular tense flashback sees a young girl cowering helplessly from a towering Kaiju.

As it is, however, not an awful lot of time is spent at ground level with the people fighting for survival, and the insights we do get don’t amount to much either. Charlie Hunnam cuts a competent but unremarkable protagonist as cocky co-pilot Raleigh Becket, but rather inexplicably spends most of his screentime struggling to hold up his trousers. Idris Elba is similarly satisfactory as Stacker Pentecost, delivering a decent speech but more often than not disappearing unceremoniously into the background. Only Burn Gorman and J J Abrams-lookalike Charlie Day stand out as scientists Dr Gottieb and Dr Geizler, but for all the wrong reasons.

What’s most disappointing about Pacific Rim, particularly given the involvement of director Guillermo del Toro, however, is the lack of personality afforded to its Kaiju antagonists. The creature designs are characteristically strong, with the attention to detail making each titan visually interesting and unique in its own right, but they lack the charm of his creations for films such as Pans Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Whether fearsome, humourous or awe-inspiring, del Toro (and more often than not Doug Jones) has a habit of not just writing creatures, but characters too. The same is simply not true here.

While generally entertaining (especially when Ron Perlman’s onscreen), Pacific Rim is hampered by a weak script and propensity to shoot its many action scenes in confusing close-up. The results often feel more like a video game than a movie, albeit one being button-mashed by an impatient teenager — indeed, Pacific Rim could accurately be described as Shadow Of The Colossus with robots. Unfortunately, it would have been better without the robots.

3-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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