Stop giggling at the back, there’s nothing funny about the title. Well maybe. But then again maybe it’s intentional, because I can’t imagine all of the forehead-slapping moments in this film were unintentionally funny. Let’s not get stuck on the debatably negative though, “Pacific Rim” was a lot better than I was expecting.
Not a big ask really, still reeling from a third (I think) helping of Transformers. I had this down as a meat-headed rocket-fisted popcorn beat-em-up. Half right.
The setting, in the indeterminate future, is that a ‘breach’ has opened in a deep Pacific trench, and periodically these huge monsters clamber through and start smashing shit up. After a difficult first stand-off, the world unites (it was that easy, after all) and collaborates on the creation of equally massive fighting robots to punch their alien faces to custard.
The Megazords are too much for one person to handle without excessive nosebleeds (movie shorthand for “you’re going to die”), so a two-player mode is created. It’s not as easy as one arm per player though, they need to be synced up – being related helps, or failing that just being totally hot for each other.
It’s spelled out early on that the two leads – ripped and regionally-ambiguous Charlie Hunnam (previously seen getting a “Pacific Rim” of his own in “Queer as Folk”) and beautiful Japanese stereotype Rinko Kikuchi – fall into the latter category.
In a story full of twists and turns, the robot teams fight big monsters (called Kaijus) in their big robots (called Jaegers), then more monsters, and finally a boss fight. There’s plenty of emotional blokey stuff that takes up valuable smashing time. Pshawww … no but really it’s a reasonably well-rounded movie for its type, and it didn’t drag particularly.
The fight scenes were spectacular and mostly easy to follow, and used sparingly enough to avoid being a 3-hour long slo-mo chain of explosions and punching like Transformers’ later instalments.
In fact everything about the visuals I think was pretty superb, it must have cost something astronomical but it was money well-spent. I knew that if director Guillermo del Toro would be good for anything, it would be that. The ghostly auras given off by the kaijus, the dazzling neon backdrop of Hong Kong, the futuristic interfaces of the robots matched with the steampunk design of the robots themselves, it was all great. It was pure escapism, so much so that I wasn’t sure of my name when I stumbled out into the car park.
There were some big old clunkers in there. The super-stereotyped core characters whose every move could be predicted, even if you couldn’t work out where some of them were from. Some of them were so clearly stamped with national identity they resembled Streetfighter characters. There were some real cringe moments in there, mostly provided by the apparently comic relief of Charlie Day (him off “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia”) and Burn Gorman (him off “Torchwood”), the latter being a jaw-droppingly terrible eccentric professor. Really, what the hell?
There was him off “Eastenders” (Robert Kazinsky), him off “Luther” (Idris Elba), even him off “Hellboy” (Ron Perlman), a fun film for random actor spotting.
So yeah, if you think it looks appalling, avoid it. If you think it looks bad but you sort of want to see it anyway, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did. If you think this sort of film is amazing anyway, then frankly I’m surprised you managed to read this far, and that you haven’t already seen it. Enjoy yourself. And also enjoy the Godzilla reboot next year… someone was banking on this being a success!