Review: PACIFIC RIM (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Review: PACIFIC RIM (2013)

Hello, citizens of Hong Kong, come give Gipsy Danger a hug!
Flimsy script and mostly cardboard characters aside, PACIFIC RIM delivers enough spectacular robots vs. monsters smackdown to earn this as one of the most entertaining summer movie blockbusters of the year.

In his first movie in five years since the lackluster 2008's HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, Guillermo del Toro has finally returned to the director's chair after departing THE HOBBIT project (which was subsequently took over by Peter Jackson himself) and made a highly-expensive pet project called PACIFIC RIM. The result: a fun and epic, if heavily flawed sci-fi action-movie blockbuster which obviously aimed for the fanboys who have grown up watching Japanese TV shows and anime like Ultraman, Power Rangers, Voltron, Godzilla or Neon Genesis Evangelion (at which del Toro particularly pays a direct homage for this movie).


Set in the near future, giant monsters known as kaiju have emerged from a portal somewhere beneath the Pacific Ocean and starts wrecking havoc around the world which cost millions of lives. To battle against the kaiju, Pan Pacific Defense Corps, led by Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), created massive robots known as Jaegers, at which two pilots are required to control together using neural bridge that synchs directly with their brains. For seven years, the human are winning the battle against the kaiju but it is not until one day when hotshot and cocky pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) loses his older brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) in an ugly showdown somewhere in the Alaskan ocean while attempting to save a boat crew. Raleigh quits his job and subsequently lays low as a construction worker in Hong Kong for five years. Meanwhile, a lot of Jaegers are started to lose their battles against the more advanced kaiju and Pentecost wants Raleigh to rejoin their team to take charge of his old Jaeger, Gipsy Danger. Raleigh nevertheless agrees to his offer and subsequently meets a young protege named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) along the process.

Working with the biggest budget (over $180 million) to date, director Guillermo del Toro certainly knows how to make full use of the money to deliver some of the most spectacular action set-pieces ever seen in the cinematic history. All the robots and the monsters are impeccably designed and seamlessly integrated with traditional animation and state-of-the-art CGI that give each of them a distinctive personality, while the gigantic robots vs. monsters smackdown are perfectly framed to ensure every moments of blow and crush are felt with such bracing impact. No doubt the epic action here is worth the price of tickets alone. As for the cast, Marshal Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba (a role that originally given to Tom Cruise) delivers an engaging presence as the no-nonsense commanding officer, while Rinko Kikuchi gives a heartfelt performance as the emotionally-conflicted Mako Mori.

The opening 18-minute, Alaska-set sequence where Gipsy Danger is battling against a kaiju in the middle of the ocean while saving a boat crew; and the Hong Kong-set titanic smackdown that begins with Gipsy Danger battling against Leatherback in the middle of the ocean and concludes in the harbour, before squaring off against Otachi in the heart of the city.

Apart from Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi, it's a shame that the rest of the cast are mostly cardboard cutouts. Charlie Hunnam may have the good looks and ideal physique to pull off a role as a hotshot pilot with an attitude but his acting is disappointingly wooden. As Dr. Newton Geizler and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, both Charlie Day's and Burn Gorman's twitchy performances as two eccentric scientists are certainly one of the most annoying characters ever seen in a long while. Even del Toro's regular, Ron Perlman, gives a thankless role as Hannibal Chau, a black marketeer who sells kaiju organs. At 132 minutes, the movie does feels overlong, largely because of Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro's weak screenplay. The pacing is uneven, especially the draggy middle section which focuses on the predictable melodrama involving all the human characters.
You fight like a sissy boy, Raleigh!

PACIFIC RIM may have its fair share of weaknesses, but the movie remains a hugely enjoyable crowd-pleaser. This is the kind of entertainment where it demands to be enjoyed in the biggest screen possible.


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