Sunday, July 14, 2013

Movie Review: Pacific Rim (2013)

Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Earth is under attack by Kaijus, monsters that have arrived via a recently opened portal in the Pacific Ocean. Human beings all over the world have united as a race and have built gigantic robots called Jaegers. Jaegers are operated by two human beings (and sometimes three), connected to each other thro via their thoughts and memories. This concept referred to as "Drifting", enables these Jaeger drivers to manage the task of operating these towering machines.

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff) are brothers who make an excellent team of Jaeger drivers. In one such Kaiju encounter, Yancy is killed and Raleigh leaves the Jaeger program. He still suffers from nightmares.

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Meanwhile, Kaijus are becoming more tougher to beat and the humankind is losing the fight. Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), in charge of the Jaeger program wants Raleigh back and has his worn out Jaeger, Gipsy Danger rebuilt with the help of his protege, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).

Two scientists, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are figuring out a way to defeat the Kaijus. Both of them have different theories and bicker constantly.

Herc Hansen (Max Martini) and Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky) are a father-son duo, who operate Striker Eureka (Australian Jaeger).

Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Also in the mix is Guillermo del Toro regular Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau, a shady dealer of Kaiju body parts.

The human interaction sequences that occupy a major section of the movie can get boring sometimes, thanks to pedestrian dialogues and cardboard characterizations. Specifically, the Russian Jaeger drivers are extreme stereotypes and reminded me of Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Rocky 4.

The acting varies from being good to intolerably bad. I was expecting a Henry Cavill kind of handsome looking-but-bland and uninvolving performance from Charlie Hunnam. But Hunnam proved to be surprisingly good in his role. Rinko Kinkuchi and Robert Kazinsky are also impressive.

Idris Elba as Marshal Stacker Pentecost in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Idris Elba and Max Martini are adequate as senior and strict officers. Ron Perlman is a hoot as Hannibal. He has a charismatic screen presence.

Burn Gorman is OK. The least satisfying performance comes from Charlie Day. He is in a shouting mode for most of the movie and grates on the nerves. His work as the "likeable but goofy comic relief" makes Richard Pryor's Gus Gorman (a computer nerd), in Superman III (1983) look superlative by comparison.

Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Guillermo del Toro is well known for his love of horror/cult movies. His movies have been excellent, whether they are in the horror genre (The Devil's Backbone and Cronos) or superhero genre (Hellboy movies and Blade 2) or fantasy genre (Pan's Labyrinth). He puts in a lot of work in preproduction and his movies are always a work of passion.

Guillermo del Toro, director of Pacific Rim, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, Blade 2

I am sure he would have put his heart and soul into this movie too. The design and execution of Jaegers and Kaijus are proof of this fact.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of the movie:

The special effects are very well done and are easily the best parts of the movie. The fight sequence featuring Crimson Typhoon (Chinese Jaeger) and Cherno Alpha (Russian Jaeger) is quite entertaining.

Gipsy Ranger, Striker Eureka, Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha are the Jaegers in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

But the movie stretches on far longer than needed. The movie would have been great if it had ended with the battle sequence in Hong Kong. The "climax" that follows is just a big letdown, compared to the superbly rendered showdown between Gipsy Danger and a couple of Kaijus.

As Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder: "But he had not that supreme gift of the artist, the knowledge of when to stop."

Leatherback and Otachi are two of the many Kaijus in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013)

Despite the amazing action sequences and the expertly executed machines and monsters (by ILM), the movie lacks much of the fun quotient of the Hellboy movies and is also predictable. It is not as bad as Man of Steel, but is still a disappointment considering the previous milestones in del Toro's career.

Fans of summer blockbusters/science fiction/action movies will enjoy Pacific Rim. My suggestion to fans of Guillermo: Watch the movie with reduced expectations and you might like it.

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Image Sources: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures

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  1. I was surprised to read Charlie Day's name in the cast list. He's better at straight comedy (as w/Horrible Bosses) than in anything that calls for drama (even in a sci-fi film like this).

    However, is it me or does Pacific Rim bear some similarities to Neon Genesis Evangelion?

    1. Thanks Rick.

      I too enjoyed Day's performance in Horrible Bosses.

      This movie does share some similarities with Neon Genesis Evangelion.


  2. I am on the fence about seeing this in theaters. Since I am running low on cash, I will probably wait for the Blu-Ray. However, I should watch del Toro's Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth though.


  3. No interest in seeing this - the trailer looked soulless and your review does little to change that view. I'm bored now of films that are mostly computer special effects linked by the occasional bit of acting. Blimey, I sound old!

    1. Agree with you, GK.

      Summer blockbusters nowadays rely too much on special effects and much less on a quality script, acting and other such important things.

      I was hopeful about Pacific Rim due to Guillermo del Toro, who happens to be my favorite director. Well, none of us has the Midas touch :)


  4. Nothing about this movie really interests me apart from learning that Charlie Hunnam has a role. I haven't seen him since "Nicholas Nickleby." Still, too much CGI with too little character development is what it sounds like. Not really my cup of tea and I have a horrible suspicion it will bomb. I wish Hollywood could learn to spend less on the CGI and more on the script.

    1. Thanks Carissa.

      You are right in your thoughts about Pacific Rim. It does have paper thin characterizations and lot of CGI.

      And just as you predicted, the movie made only 38 million USD and came third behind Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2.

      Hollywood studios need to stop launching franchise after franchise, based purely on CGI. The recent growth of foreign markets is the #1 factor to blame for this greed.


  5. I'm going to see this on the weekend. I'm not expecting much of a story, just big crazy bot fights. I thought this movie would do better at the box office.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      The bot fights are good, but the plot is predictable and the acting just about passable.

      I think after 3 massively successful Transformers movies, the general public just perceived this movie as a ripoff. Still, the fact that this movie grossed less than Grown Ups 2 is quite troubling.