Monday, November 4, 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes was expecting more from this cliched but fun blockbuster!

Guillermo Del Toro' s sci-fi monster actioner - Pacific Rim is exciting big-budget fun entertainment, (even if there are cliches that you would normally not expect from a film directed by Del Toro). I mean this is the guy who brought us no less than eight films; from Cronos, Mimic, The Devil's Backbone, Blade 2, Hellboy and Hellboy 2 (a third one is in the works with Del Toro directing) to Pan's Labyrinth (one of his best) and now Pacific Rim. One thing can be said about his previous films was that they were interesting and refreshingly inventive. Pacific Rim had been hailed as one of the year's best films, and although it is a good popcorn monster action flick, there are too many cliches for me to put it on the ten best.       

Pacific Rim stars Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh, a hotshot 'pilot' of the Jaegers. Jaegers are massive robots that are piloted by two people that are neurologically linked together in the same Jaeger. They are battling the Kaijus, gargantuan alien sea beasts that have come up from the sea floor through the tectonic plates as a result of a multidimensional portal. Huh? Yes, this is all explained in the first ten minutes of the film. Since I am recommending this film I won't say much else (if you've still not seen it). 

Pacific Rim boasts some stunning visuals to enhance its story so fear not, you will understand the plot. It has a fair amount of standard plot devices, however, including the naive pilot who has emotional horrors in her past, the punk that does not get along with the hero, the CO that is stoic and runs a tight ship and the long shot duo that pits the hero with the untested and emotionally fragile trainee. I guess I was hoping NOT to see the usual plot devices that are used here and ones we have seen many, many times. 

When I first saw what Pacific Rim was about and saw the word Jaeger, I thought, "Wow. A film about giant bottles of liqueur duking it out with massive sea creatures?! NOW THAT is something fresh and exciting (referring to Jaegermeister) ." Of course, I am joking but there seems to be a reliance of  vivid, crisp visuals to propel the story rather than the believable characters and a freshly written story. 

Yes, the plot is still fresh and inventive, but the characters seem to be stock characters from other films. Still, the acting is decent. Idris Elba as the no nonsense Commander Stacker Pentecost and Rinko Kikuchi as the emotionally tender recruit Mako and Ron Perlman in an extended fun cameo do stand out. My problem was with Charlie Hunnam as the hero, Raleigh. His acting seems forced through most of the film. He does what he needs to do to sell the character but not much else. 

At the heart of this film are battle sequences which are fantastic and worth the price of the admission ticket. They are spectacularly shot, will get your blood pumping and are plentiful throughout the film. There is a lot to like about Pacific Rim including a great score by Ramin Djawadi (one worth buying) , but by the films end the all of the cliches will have been serviced. Does the hero show the punk how it's done? Does the naive trainee show what she is really made of? Does the troubled commander show his soft side? Does the hero realize there is no 'I' in team? If you answered yes to all of these questions then you can sit back and enjoy the slug fest that is Pacific Rim. It is a good film, but could have been even better. Pacific Rim- *** out of 4


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