The sun rises over an eastern city like Tokyo or Shanghai. Everyone starts to enjoy their regular day until they hear the sound of a roar. But this roar is so abnormal, there’s no way that this it’s coming from the zoo. The roar is heard again and they see a large creature rise from the sea. People run for cover as an unknown monster starts to attack the city. This is a premise for a long forgotten kind of blockbuster, the giant monster movie. And I don’t even count a horror movie, I’m talking about an hour or two of a monster destroying a city as the military or maybe another creature trying to fight it.
I was probably born too late, but there was once a time when monsters like Godzilla (the famous radioactive reptilian) or King Ghidorah (an ancient three headed dragon) would rule the cinema during the Saturday afternoon matinee. Though there have been other movies like Godzilla such as the 1998 American remake or Cloverfield that try to recreate the dumb but fun feeling of stuff being destroyed by a giant, they seem to be more focused on showcasing the tragedy of the moment. If a monster destroys a skyscraper, the movie will remind the audience that hundreds had just died. That’s not fun. We needed something like Pacific Rim to return to the exciting monster movie era.
Set sometime in the near future, an unknown portal has opened up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where monsters called Kaijus start to attack coastal cities. To combat against these creatures, humanoid fighting machines are constructed to match the almost three hundred foot creatures. With two pilots commanding the machines, the plan is a success, though the creatures seem to keep coming. Thus, the war clock is always on, ready for another attack.
Former machine pilot Raleigh Becket (played by Charlie Hunnam) is called out of retirement when the machines are sent to Hong Kong. Commanding Officer Stacker Pentecost (played by Idris Elba) wants Raleigh to join him in Hong Kong, as they may have finally has come up with a solution. A new command center has been set up where the rest of the pilots around the world have gathered, including Raleigh’s new co-pilot, Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi), where they plan to reach the bridge where the creatures have been coming. Yet as time goes on, the monsters have gotten bigger and smarter. An attack on Hong Kong is likely and it’s up to the machines to defend the city no matter what.
This seems a lot to take in, but I promise that Pacific Rim explains everything in simple detail. I was actually able to follow this story very well. A lot of the credit has to go to filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, who knows how to construct a fun monster movie. He knows how to design a new kind of creature. He knows how to shoot these kinds of movies (the cinematography is amazing). He even pulls off some good character development.
What may surprise you is that there is a lot more scenes of dialogue then there is of fighting. Rather then becoming a Transformers movie where it is nothing but constant noise for two hours, Pacific Rim plays to its strengths by allowing some nice stories from Raleigh’s past od being a pilot and Mako’s growth from being Stackers adopted daughter to a pilot. It’s actually very interesting. Plus I also have to mention that Charlie Day and Ron Perlman also have roles that completely steel the show that I will not give away.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Del Toro acquired a lot of the film’s overall look from Japanese anime, because Pacific Rim has a very colorful look, whether your going into the yellowish-brown command centers, the whiteouts of Alaska, and especially the rainbow neon eye candies of Hong Kong. Who ever helped Del Toro with the imagry deserves an Oscar nomination.
I’ll give this five Kaiju monsters out of five. Pacific Rim is an amazing combination of dumb monster movie fighting with great picture and a great story. I would love to see this turn into an annual summer franchise. I’ll also note that this is a must see in 3D and IMAX.