How could a movie about robots and monsters the size of skyscrapers duking it out Rock ‘em Sock ‘em style be a bad bet? I have no idea to be honest. I went into the theater expecting to love it and by the end, I just wanted it to have been over an hour after it had started. Pacific Rim is the latest film by director Guillermo Del Toro, whose previous achievements include: The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the two films that make up the Hellboy Franchise. The Hellboy movies along with Pan’s Labyrinth are probably three of my all time favorite films. I adore fantasy and I love monster movies. With nearly all of his films, Guillermo presents his plots with a light fairy tale aspect to them. Even with his recently produced horror films: Mama and Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, they adhere to a sort of folklore esque style of narrative. Del Toro has always been brilliant when it comes to designing vibrant and engaging worlds. When it comes to visuals, Pacific Rim delights beyond belief, but in terms of its plot the film could have spent a few more months in the can. Pacific Rim really feels like a film that was rushed into delivery.
In terms of Pacific Rim’s plot structure, David Edelstein of New York Magazine said it best, “It’s as if Del Toro neuro-linked with a robot and then couldn’t figure out how to work the controls — and so watched impotently as the machine made the major creative decisions”. Pacific Rim lacks greatly in one element in particular, that if it had had more of it, the film could have been a phenomenal achievement. Pacific Rim has no true sense of humanity. Yes, there are human beings all over the place, they give rousing speeches and cry, but there is no depth to the actors performances and consequently there’s no emotional connection between the audience and the characters on screen. If Pacific Rim had just been a movie about colossal robots fighting gargantuan monsters, then I could have seen that as being an entertaining way to spend two hours. The only problem here is that Pacific Rim spends far too little time giving the audience what they want and instead giving them a lifeless human story that offers little originality and even less venerability. However, there are three things that make Pacific Rim a palatable experience.
Idris Elba proves himself as being a great actor. He takes this 20 metric-ton barrell of ridiculousness called a movie and carries it on his shoulders like Atlas. The movie’s only other good character goes by the name of Hannibal Chau, who is played by Ron Perlman. Perlman and Del Toro have worked together for years. It’s rare to see one without the other. It was a real treat being able to see them collaborate once again. The last element of Pacific Rim that really hit home for me were its visuals. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you are already aware how stunning this film looks; especially on an Imax screen. It’s a shame that so much of the action in this film takes place in what seems to be monsoon season. There is so much rain and water present on screen, that at times the intensity of the action makes it difficult to make out what is actually going on onscreen. Interestingly enough Pacific Rim is at its best when nearly nothing is happening; especially when no one is speaking. Slow Motion shots of helicopters airlifting in robots or monsters emerging from the ocean. These shots serve up the most eye candy and are probably going to be what is most remembered about this film.
Pacific Rim is not terrible, but it’s not very good either. If the movie had been a straight up story about fighting monsters, then it probably could have sidestepped a lot of its pitfalls. Since it is not, the film loses its focus in a plot that is illogical, half-baked and for all other purposes uninteresting. Its worth it to see, but only if you can afford to grab an Imax ticket. The visuals are gorgeous and inspiring. The action, when there is some, is often exciting. If there has to be a sequel to this film, then I hope the developers and creative minds behind it take just a little bit more time with the creation of the story. Pacific Rim could have been so much better than what it was. This film certainly meets the definition of a rainy day movie.