Released on Jul. 12, Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi adventure “Pacific Rim” will likely be overshadowed this weekend by “Grown Ups 2.” Despite positive word of mouth and critical praise, “Pacific Rim” has little draw for audiences besides its special effects action; del Toro is still not that well known in the U.S. nor are his stars. One would hope “Pacific Rim” would create waves in the summer crowd, but it’ll only float.
In the near future, enormous alien beasts called Kaiju appear in the ocean to attack the world’s coasts. Over time, countries have united around the world to create large machines called Jaegers manned with two synced drivers to battle the monsters. Once the humans have developed the strength to deal with the Kaiju, the aliens not only seem to adapt to their defenses but have a plan to conquer. Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is partnered with his brother (Diego Klattenhoff) piloting the Gipsy Danger. After losing his brother, Raleigh is re-recruited into the program a few years later by his former boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). Partner tryouts are held, and rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) is clearly his ideal match, but she has some emotional history that Pentecost feels will be too much of a challenge. Pentecost puts all of his efforts into plans from scientists Newton (Charlie Day) and Hermann (Burn Gorman) in fears of a nearing Apocalypse.
In the height of summer movies, “Pacific Rim” is action-packed glory, but Guillermo del Toro’s independence is both his greatest asset and the cause of his smaller box office performance. Unlike other Hollywood blockbusters, Guillermo del Toro mostly avoids cheap thrills, immature humor, and explosions to sell his film. Del Toro uses special effects to aid his storytelling rather than being the main event (like Michael Bay movies); they are not attention-seeking. But it’s not that he doesn’t have phenomenal special effects; the visuals create the world and monsters we need to believe his story.
Though the body of the film relies on special effects, the soul of the movie relies on teamwork. The foundation is built with partners and varied teams working together. One would expect the teamwork and togetherness of the family bonds represented, but rivalries, such as the scientists and the multiple nations, disappear for the greater good. “Pacific Rim” is shockingly an action film with an obvious moral.
Families should use caution bringing their children; my six-year-old enjoyed the film even though she was slightly scared. Also, it has an abundance of low-level bad language.
Guillermo del Toro is a creative god of monsters in film, but “Pacific Rim” is not one of his greatest works. The dialogue wants us to realize these events affect the whole world, but the story gives more attention to personal struggles, especially losses. The plot has a few cliché blockbuster moments, including the standard heroic sacrifice. In many ways, the film is similar to “Independence Day.” But del Toro’s style and vision is always worth watching and his lack of immaturity and showy special effects (no slow motion shots to emphasize the awesomeness of his effects) make “Pacific Rim” a much more mature action film. If you grew up with “Voltron” or “Transformers” or even “Gundam Wing” and enjoy “Godzilla,” you will appreciate “Pacific Rim” as a positive evolution of this category of sci-fi.
Rating for “Pacific Rim:” B+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
I cannot suggest seeing the film in 3-D, even though it’s playing in IMAX. “Pacific Rim” is playing across Columbus in both formats, including at Gateway and Rave Polaris. For showtimes, click here.