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Movie Review: 'Pacific Rim'

Pacific Rim

Starring Charlie Humman, Idris Elba, Charlie Day
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Rated PG-13

Guillermo del Toro loves movies.  I’m not talking about the love that you or I may have for movies, no, his in on a much deeper, kid like level.  I love movies, but when I was a kid, there was a more wide eyed enthusiasm that over the years has since been replaced with cynicism and a jaded filter.  Toro still has the wide eyed enthusiasm.  Every time the guy has come to the table with a new movie (either as a director or producer) there is no denying that he’s all in with making you find your kid spirit.  Pacific Rim could be del Toro’s defining masterpiece.  It’s a movie that has no agenda, no underlying sadness or self-aware snobby attitude that can come with filmmakers.  No this is a movie that just wants to make you walk out of the theater with such elation that your hi-fiving everyone that you come in contact with.  This is also the reason why it angers me that after seeing Pacific Rim; I still can’t get super excited about it. But that doesn't mean I didn't like it.

Pacific Rim will be loved by a lot of people, and rightfully so, it will deserve every word of geek level accolades that come upon it.  So why am I not right there, standing on the mountain top, singing my undying love for a movie that can be summed up with this simple tagline:  It’s monsters vs. robots in a battle to the death…do you really need anything else?   It’s not the cynicism kicking in.  It’s not the lack of tone or direction the movie takes.  I think I just wanted more.  More destruction, more chaos, more peril, more victory, more ass-kicking battles and more back story.  So yes, I am taking the selfish route, I wanted more.

Outside of the movie opening against Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2 (which I will share my thoughts later with my review), I can’t think of a movie with a more basic plot line.  The Kaiju (the monsters) have unearthed from beneath the surface of the ocean and have started to wreak havoc on our planet.  We combat this by building gigantic robots (called Jaegers) to battle the Kaiju.  It works but as the kaiju become more advanced and we start to learn they plan to exterminate the planet of inhabitants, our ability to destroy them becomes less and less.  We panic and decide to build walls with the hope the walls will stop the kaiju from getting onto land…it doesn’t.   So its up to a battled bruised pilot (Charlie Hunnam), a battle bruised military Marshall (Idris Elba), two scientists( Charlie Day & Burn Gorman) and a young enthusiastic but slightly naïve pilot (Rinko Kikuchi) to save the day. 

The movie makes the choice to keep these characters essentially as backdrops, giving them a basic back story. But it also makes the wise choice of not making them more complicated than they need to be.  They are the cheerleaders, the one who get excited about the possibility of blowing shit up and saving the day.  They are us, sitting in the theater, watching them blow shit up and saving the day and getting excited about it.  Where I would have like to seen more back story is with the battles of the Kaiju, the mistakes we made battling them before the Jaegers were built to go mano a mano with them.  

The thing people will get excited about, the very thing this movie is concerned with,  is with the battle scenes and are they ever impressive.  I was a little concerned in the beginning since most of the action takes place at night, in the rain (and this is also used as a technique to cover up any deficiencies in the CGI). But del Toro is a master when it comes to this sort of thing and every inch of screen, every shot, is superbly done.   I just wanted more, the scenes seemed too quick and didn’t play out to let you get super jazzed about what was happening.  Sure, you’re in awe of what is being played out in front of you, its just there’s a lack of investment.  And maybe that’s just me.  I’ll be curious over the next couple of days to talk to people and see what their reaction is to this movie. 

At the end of the day though, I will give this 4 Abiding Dudes because there is a lot to like here. I feel I will have to see this one again; maybe a second and third viewing is what I need to really super geeked out over this film.  The elements are there and I say go check it out, especially for those of you who want a reminder of what it felt like to watch a movie as a kid.  

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