It isn’t necessarily easy to take a film like Pacific Rim seriously, with it’s homage to Japanese monster movies, especially when it doesn’t entirely take itself too seriously, but somehow it does enough to be entertaining, despite a whole raft of negatives. One of the main reasons for this that it centres itself in the original concept of Kaiju (Japanese for ‘strange creature’), which first gave us the likes of Godzilla, so it feels like a modern legacy of that, adding a little bit of credibility to the movie where there would have otherwise been none.
The story is a simple one, if a little far fetched, as it sees a world that is slowly being overrun by giant monsters, which they call Kaiju, that have been appearing as if from nowhere out of the Pacific Ocean. The world’s response to them after the first one appeared and took six days of destruction to finally bring down is to construct massive mecha robots called Jaeger’s (German for hunter) to fight back against the menace.
It quickly becomes apparent that the Kaiju are traveling to earth through a wormhole deep under the ocean, and that their frequency of arrival to terrorize the people of earth is increasing. Cue a massive bout of man & machine versus giant monster action from the film’s hero, Raleigh Becket, played by British actor, Charlie Hunnam, and the rest of the Jaeger team, headed up by the imposing form of their commanding officer, Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba (Thor: The Dark World).
The biggest problem with the storyline is the sheer lack of logic at times as it becomes clear that the threat from the Kaiju is more planned than they’d first thought. This is only an issue when you realise that the attack could have been easily successful if they’d sent in a shock and awe style wave of Kaiju straight away, instead of slowly building up their attacks in ones and twos over time. It’s an issue that could have easily been explained away a bit better, but it’s sadly left as a bit of a hole in the storyline.
What the film also misses out on is the concept of the underdog hero, as it’s based on a jock-centric leading role. The film might have been a whole lot more engaging if there’d been a bit more little train that could about it, instead of the Varsity Blue college hero persona that dominates the movie and Hunnam’s performance. However, that’s compensated for partly by the role of that Rinko Kikuchi plays as the wanna-be pilot, Mako Mori, who struggles to get a shot.
She’s the definitive star of Pacific Rim with a stand-out performance that helps to take away from the stupider elements of the movie, like the odd Russian Jaeger team or the three limbed mecha controlled by Korean triplets. She centres things on a core concept of battling against the nightmare of the attack as she tries to get a hold of her fear to convince Pentecost that she can do the job.
We were a little dubious about Idris Elba taking on one of the main roles in the film after his overly inflated and random foray into TV car shows recently, but actually he manages to make the part stack quite well. He’s strong and imposing, giving him the authority to crack down on all of the pilot heros, but equally he’s got a good way of hiding fragility and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders that brings a good amount of depth to his character.
There’s also an effectively zany partnership between the Jaeger science contingent of Dr. Newton Geiszler, played by Charlie Day, and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, played by Burn Gorman. They make a decent comedy duo, bring a bit of brevity to the sometimes overblown sentiment that makes up large parts of the movie.
One of the most impressive, but equally flawed elements of the film is the special effects. These are on the whole very impressive, making the DVD an absolute joy to watch. However, every now and again they just seem to fall down and things start to look a bit too close to a Power Rangers battle scene, which leaves little cracks in the believability of the sequences.
On the whole Pacific Rim is an enjoyable movie to watch if you’re into a bit of big hitting sci-fi monster show-down action. It’s got a whole lot of positives mixed in with an equal amount of negatives, which is why our review is a bit on the fence, but the reality is that it kept us glued to the screen all the way through and if we had to watch it again we wouldn’t necessarily complain. It was a massive success at the box office, so we’re expecting a sequel down the line too.
Pacific Rim DVD review: 3/5