Pacific Rim (2013)


Who cares about going to war with North Koreans when you have HUGE, FREAKIN’ MONSTERS!??!?!

The Earth is being threatened by a bunch of huge-ass, killer monsters known as Kaiju, who never seem to stop attacking. There’s more and more of them, each and every day so obviously something has to stop them. Enter the Jaegers, giant robots that are equipped and ready to defeat this big monsters, especially since they are ran by two people at the same time. However, once the threat of human extinction becomes all too real and closer and closer by the seconds of every day,  two unlikely heroes (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi) realize that it’s their time to stand up, fight, and break some monster skulls, while also having the fate of humanity rest solely in the palm of their hands. Not too much pressure, is it?

As you could probably tell from the last 5 days: I’ve been watching A LOT of Guillermo del Toro movies. Yes, the main reason for doing so was to get all hyped-up and ready for this flick, but also to understand him more as a film maker and creator, then I ever did, and I think have a handle on what he’s all about now.

First of all, the guy is a director that makes the type of movies he wants to make, and allows people to join in on the fun and excitement if they so please to. He’s sort of like a kid who grew-up on late-night trips to theaters, more action-figures than actual, human-being friends, and probably made Atari more times than you or I have ever popped in GTA IV. Except he’s all grown-up, has the ability to make a movie, and get paid for doing so, which is great for him, but even better for us since we get to watch those movies, and see the world through his eyes, as amateurish and kiddish as they may be. However, the terms “amateurish” and “kiddish” are used more as positives than negatives here, because del Toro makes such great movies that it’s so easy to forgive him for being non-other than the type of director who likes to see things go “bang”, “boom”, and “caboodle”. But with his latest effort, “great” doesn’t come close, but “fun” does and that’s more than enough than I can say about other loud, big, summer blockbusters.

Yeah, you need to get those molars next time.
You need to get those molars next time around.

Looking at you, Lone Ranger.

Del Toro’s knack for having fun with his material shines throughout the whole flick, and it never lets up. The idea of having huge-ass robots and aliens fight each other, atop major cities and oceans is a silly idea, but it’s one that del Toro takes very seriously in the way that he amerces himself into this universe where, for some reason or another, alien-like creatures come out of the ocean and start attacking our world, only to be fought to the death by even-bigger robots created by us, the humans. As I said, silly, but a bunch of fun because del Toro knows the type of flick he’s making here and isn’t really trying to show us anything new or surprising, in terms of plot or tone. Some may be a bit saddened by that fact, knowing what del Toro has been able to do with even the most simple plots, but I was happy to see this, considering this flick could have easily gone South, had he decided to make it a super-cereal flick, with still a shit-load of aliens and robots fighting one another.

This aspect of the movie works because it’s as big, loud, explosive, CGI-filled, and entertaining as you may have thought it would be, coming from all of the countless trailers and whatnot. Not only do the aliens and robots look very-detailed in a way that’s obvious CGI, but still feels natural, but their fights are easy-to-understand and aren’t constantly cut and edited at a fast, Paul Greengrass-style. Del Toro continues to let the fights linger on and on and on, until we had enough or, in some cases, want more. I was more of the latter than the former, however, I can see the ship from both sides. Some may want the fights to not over-stay their welcome and end as soon as they get started so they can get back with the characters and their development; whereas some may just want the fights to keep on happening and continue to take up space, considering that they’re the best thing the movie has going for itself.

This is a real shame too, because, if you know del Toro movies the way I’ve been knowing del Toro movies, you know his attention to action-splendor and characters is amazing considering he rarely ever misses a beat with each aspect. However, with this movie, he seems to have lost his touch and used loud action scenes, and put them in place of characters and their developments. Which is fine since the action scenes are fun and exhilarating, but it’s a huge bummer knowing that there could have been so much more accomplished here, had del Toro decided to go that extra mile with each and every one of these characters and making them more than just cardboard cut-outs. But he didn’t, and as saddened as I am to say this: It totally brings the film down.

The human-race: FUCK YEAH!!!
The human-race: FUCK YEAH!!!

Though everybody in this flick seems perfectly-cast, they are all wasted on a script that couldn’t give two shits about them. Members like Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Ron Perlman all get their chances to shine and do what they do best (especially Elba who probably gives his best “film” performance, ever), but the script is so weak and poorly-written, that it feels like most of them were just called onto have one “look” the whole time, and never lose it. They all try to rise above the material, but they all fall face down in the dirt because del Toro is more infatuated with the big-ass robots he has grace the screen more than a couple of times, as he should, since they cost him probably more than half of that $200 million budget of his.

The only person in this cast who actually seems to try, but gets the hardest end of the stick the most is Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, the type of role that should have catapulted him to stardom, but most likely won’t because it’s too weak and conventional, even for him. I can’t get on Hunnam’s ass too much because the dude seems like he was putting some time and effort into a role that probably seemed fit for him on paper, but the script just lets him down and makes him nothing more than a poster boy for getting revenge, fighting for “your boys” and respecting the code and honor that is bestowed onto you. That’s all this role has to do and there are times when Hunnam shows some inspiration in his work, but nothing too noticeable to where I think he’s going to be a star one of these days, and really show the world what he’s got. Yes, I know he’s on Sons of Anarchy and, from what I hear, is lighting up television screens all over the world, but film just may not be his thing just yet. With time, maybe. But as for right now, not at all.

Consensus: Even though it may be del Toro’s weakest in a long while, Pacific Rim still offers you all the bang for your buck that you need, especially with the constant battles between aliens and robots, but if you want anything more like character-development or heart injected into the material, you may be a little lost.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

In Luther, we trust.
In Luther, we trust.
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53 comments

  1. Nice review Dan, and I have to concur. The movie was a TON of loud fun (and probably the best CGI/special effects we’ve seen since Transformers). But the script absolutely stunk, IMO and when there weren’t gigantic battles being fought the movie struggled to remain just as intense in the conversation-aspect. Some times it was decent (Idris Alba is terrifying when gets angry!!) but most of the time, meh….

  2. “TONIGHT, WE ARE CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE!”
    As soon as I knew Idris Elba was saying that line, I was definitely going to be watching this movie!

  3. While it’s not the glowing review that I’ve been reading around I do appreciate you breaking it down without the fanboy glasses. I’m a big Del Toro fan as well and am still looking foward to this quite a bit.

  4. Terrific review! I saw it last night and thought it was one of the more enjoyable films of the summer. Sure, the acting was mediocre and the script was okay but I thought the action made up for it all. It’s not a perfect flick but it certainly beats total crap like Now You See Me and Grown Ups 2. Granted, I haven’t seen Grown Ups 2 but I am 100% sure it’ll suck. But again great review!

  5. LOVED IT!! With any action/CGI heavy spectacle–characters have to be basic (not enough time) but I felt the cast nailed it and made a connection with the audience. Fun, exciting, fresh and off-the-charts entertaining! Yeah…that’s a summer blockbuster!

    Great write-up! Later! :d

  6. I can’t say I really disagree much, but I will say that anyone who’s even remotely interested in this movie should see it on the big screen. Of course, I think that about most of the ‘spectacle’ films … even the ones I don’t like. There’s just something about seeing them in a theater that just adds to the experience.

  7. While I like what you said at first about the monsters and the international coalition against them,
    I tend to disagree about the weakness of the script or the idea Del Toro only focuses on the war machines. Even in battles, the people receive more face time than the machines.

  8. Good review, Dan. I’m in the same boat. The action is fun and what I was looking for, but I hoped del Toro was going to give us more to transcend the genre and reach out to a bigger audience. Entertaining, but somewhat disappointing.

    • That’s what I was expecting, but didn’t get. Don’t know if that’s more of my fault considering I’ve been stepping up my game on del Toro movies as of late.

  9. […] “Even though it may be del Toro’s weakest in a long while, Pacific Rim still offers you all the bang for your buck that you need, especially with the constant battles between aliens and robots, but if you want anything more like character-development or heart injected into the material, you may be a little lost.” – Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews […]

  10. We feel very similarly about this film. Beautiful, spectacular action that shows incredible attention to detail and polish. The special effects, editing, camerawork, and use of 3D are all phenomenal. Plus there are some really great supporting performances (Elba, Perlman, and even Charlie Day). It’s clear del Toro had a lot of fun making this and he has love for the material. That said, the writing is where this movie falters. The dialogue and narration are unbelievably stupid, almost to the point of constant annoyance. I was also really bothered by the misogynist treatment of the female lead and her adherence to the subservient Asian-girl stereotype. And, Charlie Hunnam’s character is the most vanilla rebel who doesn’t play by the rules I’ve ever seen. Even with those shortcomings though, I they still didn’t affect my overall sentiment about the film. The nine-year-old inside loved watching huge robots beat the crap out of giant monsters.

    • The little tike in my soul had fun with this, I just wish it could also enjoy the lack of a good script as well. That’s when my 19-year-old version came out and got upset.

  11. Good review, Dan. I will say, while I did definitely enjoy this, I can definitely see where you’re coming from with the weak script. It was certainly fun and a good time overall, but I can’t help but feel like this thing really could have been GREAT, but didn’t QUITE reach that potential.

  12. I didn’t think the script was weak at all, it was the type of script needed for this movie – a high action- monster-brawl film. All the main characters inspired me for the fight. Miko, as a little girl crying for her mom & dad as the giant monster hunted her was a fantastic scene. I thought the characters of Raleigh and Stacker were inspiring also. Every time a Jaeger beat a Kaiju, the audience in the theater cheered. What part of the action would you cut out to add more dialogue? I’m glad Stacker’s speech was short and I’m glad the film wasn’t 3 hours. Just my opinion 😀

  13. I totally agree with you. I do think the script was weak at points and character development seemed to be a non-priority. I’m okay with that to a point, but I still want to learn something about them, and I don’t feel this movie did enough of that for me. At the end, I was kinda disappointed.

  14. I really wanted this to be great, but certainly did not expect as stellar script or performances (as you noted in your review). ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is one of the my favorite films of the last decade, and I was in full 7-year-old-boy Creature Feature mode when I went to the screening. But for all the hype about the “detail” of the CGI, I was REALLY unimpressed with the Kaiju – we never really get sustained looks at them and how they move, and when we do, they are obscured by rain, submergence in water, etc. The final battle was just one big swooshie blur. Even for what it was supposed to be, I have to say I was disappointed. And I have to say, this is the only blockbuster of the summer that screams out for a prequel (e.g., I want to SEE that first Kaiju take out San Francisco).

  15. I wish it wasn’t so geared towards kids to jump start an ethos that all of us (well, I’m assuming most of you are in my age range of 30-40) remember from days old. It was very entertaining and I agree it just get a “Rental” status. I personally feel like there was way too much hype and it wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. My two cents. Great Review Dan!

    Dustin Andres
    http://www.sundaydumbday.com/pacific-rim/

  16. I actually thought this is one of del Toro’s best, as this movie made it to my Favorite Films list..lol. I agree with you though on it being more “fun” than “great” as I was actually just looking forward to the fight scenes the whole time when I watched it. Nice review as usual, Dan! 🙂

  17. Enjoyed reading your review. It has reenforced my decision to wait for home viewing on this one. I really enjoy del Toro’s previous work but this movie was clearly not made for me. I was so thankful that my husband was able to enjoy this at the theatre at the same time as my daughters and I watched The Heat next door. Everyone had a good time!

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