Summary: Monstrous sea creatures, Kaijus, attack the world and humanity responds with Jaegers, aka giant robots.
I apologize in advance for the multiple Charlie Hunnam reviews coming your way. Not like one Hunnam review a week- not like our Idris Elba massacre last year- but I also watched Lost City of Z and two Charlie Hunnam movies is about my year’s quota so there’s that.
Aw shoot, Elba’s in this too!? We’ll never escape his handsome wrath! Gah!
I don’t mean this to say Hunnam is a bad actor- I quite liked him in King Arthur and I adore Sons of Anarchy– but he registers as a Matt Damon to me, meaning he fits well in Generic Hero Role. He’s good with action, brings just the right amount of dramatic to be taken seriously, and damn good when he’s surrounded by the right people and characters or opponents who he can build off of. I’m not sure if he’ll ever go past any of that, but meh.
Luckily for us (and I guess for him too), Pacific Rim has an onslaught of interesting characters played by talented actors. Hunnam plays a broken soldier who was Jaeger pilot before his co-pilot brother was killed. More interesting is Pentecost played by Elba, who somehow leads all this giant new technology that was just totally approved by the government within the span of a few months and distributed around the world! His surrogate daughter who gave him back his humanity and is a drift-compatible badass played by Rinko Kikuchi! A random scientist played by Charlie Day, Karl Tanner from Game of Thrones, an Australian duo, and RON PERLMAN. Like all Guillermo Del Toro pieces, the movie’s characters are vibrant and full of life- it’s their dynamics and interactions that really hold the piece together. Del Toro has built yet another huge concept and brought it down to a relatable scale.
Now, typically I’m not a huge fan of big explosion movies like this- I need to feel connected and said-explosions need to have meaning or at least something at stake for me to feel invested. Pacific Rim does an altogether decent job of building the action on top of these things, as the characters are engaging and much of humanity’s capabilities are built on the strength of the relationships shown. The way I got to know the characters and their relationships really made me care about how the final battle was built up and what went down in it. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect job- I did get distracted after the first few robot whacks- but I felt for the characters which is more than I can say for some other movies. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Hunnam’s Raleigh and Mako, a natural chemistry and sense of trust and admiration for each other’s abilities. And I adored the father/daughter relationship between Pentecost and Mako, two desperate souls who somehow found each other. Hunnam may be on the poster, but Kikuchi really is the star of this movie. It’s impossible not to feel for her character and admire her growth throughout the movie.
Pacific Rim does have low points. The action tends to feel a bit long, though that might just be me wanting to get back to the dialogue and interactions. The narrative in the beginning is pretty bad. I could have done without the scientists(they’re just plot convenience) but used more Ron Perlman, etc. It ain’t no District 9, but it’s a good popcorn movie. And conceptually, it’s really interesting- dude, every pilot team has a special robot with special weapons and special skills. It’s all dependent on their chemistry and strategy. That’s fascinating!
I’d love to see Pacific Rim as a mini-series or something of the like so we can really get into these smaller aspects. It will definitely be interesting to see where the series (if it makes it to a series) will go after this and without Del Toro at the helm- Uprising apparently takes place a few years after the Kaiju have been defeated- but I’m most interested to see if Pacific Rim can hold onto its grasp of humankind on a small scale while not getting lost in the CGI. It’s really what sets it apart from others.