As a kid I would sneak into the living room in the middle of the night to watch Godzilla movies. They were campy with poor English dubbing – but the movies, despite their defects, were plain fun. The twenty-first century has a new Godzilla creature that is featured in Guillermo del Toro’s new film “Pacific Rim.”
“Pacific Rim” is easily described as a Godzilla meats Transformers film. The Godzilla-like creature in “Pacific Rim” that comes from the Pacific Ocean is called the Kaiju. They are alien creatures from another dimension that have accessed our Pacific Ocean using a dimensional breach at the earth’s core.
After the new beasts surface and destroy a few cities, the Jaeger machines are developed to combat the Kaiju. The Jaegers are piloted by humans inside the machine using a mind meld interface which is called “the drift.” The pilots can reach others thoughts and see each other memories and they are connected to the Jaeger via this interface to make the Jaeger a brutal and big fighting machine.
In one combat mission, brothers Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff) are beaten by a Kaiju and Yancy is killed. This marks the end of the Jaeger machines, which once effective against the Kaiju, but are now much less effective. Various governments come together and decide to build a wall of defense and to scrap the Jaeger project.
But Marshall (Idris Elba), leader of the Jaeger project, won’t back down. The Jaeger project becomes the resistance and an older Jaeger is updated with a nuclear core. The hope is to set off a nuclear blast within the breach.
Marshall hand picks Raleigh to pilot the refitted Jaeger, but Raleigh needs a co-pilot. He finds a match with a young Japanese girl named Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). She is the most advance fighter among the cadets and she and has a score to settle.
Will Raleigh and Mako be victorious and save the world from the eventual destruction by the Kaiju?
“Pacific Rim” is an action packed, loud and audacious film. The main story line is kept fairly simple and the characters, especially Marshall (Idris Elba), Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) are quite likable. Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi also have a nice romantic chemistry, but their relationship is only featured at the end of the film.
This is not a film for the light of heart. It’s battle scenes could be quite scary, especially to young children. This film is perfect for the teenage crowd that doesn’t have the desire to see anything but action and hear nothing but the constant and deafening sound.
The special effects are fairly good, but the fighting scenes are so numerous that they become monotonous and just plain boring.
The biggest miss in “Pacific Rim” was the almost complete lack of levity. Humorous moments are a useful tool in action films, it keeps the film balanced and help the audience have some relief from relentless action scenes. “Pacific Rim” is so down-weighted with monsters destroying cities and battle scenes, that is gets to be boring very quickly. Even the Japanese knew this when making their low-budget Godzilla films.
All in all, if you want a pure action film and to lose your valuable hearing, “Pacific Rim” is just the film for you. All others, pass on this film and you will be better for it.
“Pacific Rim” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language and has a run-time of 2 hours and 11 minutes.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones and no texting, please don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com