"We're no longer an army - we're the resistance." - Stacker
Guillermo del Toro sure loves his trans-dimensional beings. That's the idea behind the conflict of this latest big-budget blockbuster - assembling the classic giant monsters of Japanese creation (the Kaiju) and breathing new life into them. That leaves us, puny humans left to figure out what to do about these creatures. When faced with extinction, we're given tough choices to make. Do we fly or fight? Lie down, surrender, or pick up the hammer as we stand back up? It's an ageless tale that we've already heard, but we've certainly never seen it portrayed like this. The film may take its punches from the classic summer movie playbook, but Pacific Rim is a solid blockbuster knockout with the story and power to keep all previous giant robot movies at 'Bay.'
Mankind was winning the war against the giant sea monsters, known as Kaiju, until the new arrivals started to become stronger, starting to adapt to our Jaegers, giant mechas that require the neurological link (or handshake) of two human pilots. Raleigh Becket was one such pilot, linked to his brother, making an unstoppable team until a new breed of Kaiju entered the rift and yanked his brother away. Years later, the Jaeger project is being shut down as they are being destroyed faster than they can be built. Without the government's support, a new plan is devised - take out the rift at its source, meaning the director of the Jaeger program must rely on any remaining (or surviving) resources. Raleigh will need a new partner first - and Mako is not what he expected.
I'll admit, the idea of giant robots has always fascinated me as a kid, growing up with the likes of Robotech, Voltron, and Gundam (if you're asking about Power Rangers, please don't). Having an idea of what I was getting myself into, I was confident that I would enjoy this movie while expecting nothing new from its storyline. And that's fine. You go to a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters and you get a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters. It's not rocket science. This expectation meant everything would end well, even if all the cool characters are killed off or they sacrifice themselves for the cause or the greater good - nothing new here.
The execution, however, is able to override the predictability factor with waves of awe when these massive, majestic mechs take to the screen, filling our eyeballs with "two thousand and five hundred tons of awesome!" The symbiotic match up against these giant monsters is a feast of wanton destruction. Iron fists, handfuls of freighters, and cargo ships used as baseball bats is only a lonely corner in this outrageously entertaining boxing ring, and the concept of two pilots sharing each other's brain takes trust and reliably issues to a whole other level. Throw a wink and a nod by Ron Perlman, music from Iron Man's Ramin Djawadi, and the emotional dilemma portrayed by the lovely Rinko Kikuchi and you have a classic mech story on your hands.
And if I may be so bold, one of the best - or the best mech story ever made. Try watching other live-action mech movies from the past and try not to laugh - that is, if you can find them ...
Pacific Rim isn't the kind of film that requires a brain to see, but it has enough heart and decent enough performances to drop our suspension of disbelief. Action reigns supreme in this picture, in what may undoubtedly be the sleeper summer hit we've been waiting for. With several mech movies planned in the not too distant future, it's easy to see why del Toro jumped in first.
Cosmic Cruller Rating:
I'm David, and today ... we're cancelling the apocalypse!