Sunday 21 July 2013

Dark Review - Pacific Rim

Dark Review Image

Pacific Rim Review

By Casey Douglass

Image ©Warner Bros. Pictures

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim has been my most looked forward to film of the year so far. This is unusual for me as I don’t often get to that stage of anticipation with many films. The last one that did was probably The Dark Knight Rises. So I will tell you now, I give Pacific Rim 5/5. It’s not a perfect film but I personally loved it.

Pacific Rim is the story of humanities struggle against invading monsters that emerge from the depths of the Pacific. These creatures are Kaiju, denizens of another dimension, that travel to our own through a “dimensional rift” on the ocean floor. Initially they come through at the rate of one every few months, but the frequency increases as time progresses, the gap between each emergence narrowing with every new creature rearing its ugly head. In response to this threat, the countries of the world band together and create the Jaegers, colossal human driven robots that can fight the Kaiju on their own terms.

The humans prevail for awhile, but the escalating numbers of Kaiju soon overwhelm their capacity to keep patching the Jaegers up and sending them out to do battle. Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), is a Jaeger pilot who comes off the unfortunate loser against a large Kaiju. He bows out of the program feeling that he is washed out and done. The Jaeger program is deemed ineffective and funding is stopped in favour of other defences. Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), was in charge of the whole scheme, and refuses to give in. He corrals the last of the Jaeger into one base, determined to carry on the fight, and re-enlists his favourite pilot Becket once more.

It is here that the film really launches off into the guts of the storyline, giving glimpses of pilot relationships, research into the Kaiju and other projects and dealings that both empower and jeopardize the war effort. It felt to me that more time was spent running around deciding what to do than driving the robots and punching monsters in the face. I do feel that the film was better for it though. It made every action scene that much more exciting by not over-saturating the viewer with too much robot flesh (I’m looking at you Transformers!).

The Jaeger themselves are things of metallic beauty, each one built by its own respective world power in its own distinct way. The Russian one is strong and stark compared to the Chinese one which is lithe and agile with whirling blades. The Kaiju themselves offer great variety too, some resembling lizards, others sea creatures. They also vary in size and abilities in as many ways as the Jaeger.

When the two enormous fighters clash, it is certainly a thrilling sight. Guillermo del Toro penned a piece in the July issue of Empire magazine, going into his influences and enthusiasm for Kaiju movies growing up in Mexico. (A very interesting read). He says that he always felt the Kaiju were forces of nature, like a tornado or a tsunami. I would say that he achieves this effect in Pacific Rim with great skill. They are certainly majestic in their own way, which is another effect of his own love affair with them. He says that he always finds himself rooting for the monster. This brings me back to the last film that made me excited to see it. The last two Batman films in fact. Both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises had me rooting as much for the villain as for Batman. I did feel the same in Pacific Rim. There is just a part of me that enjoys revelling in mass destruction and is envious of things that don’t seem to have to follow any outside rules.

I really enjoyed Pacific Rim, the story, the fights, the effects and the acting. It was great to see Idris Elba in something like that, along with Charlie Hunnam and Robert Kazinsky, all great British actors who should appear in as much as possible in my humble opinion. I still find myself reflecting on the film almost a week after seeing it, and am looking forward to its hopefully soon blu-ray release. I may also pick up the movie score on CD. It is odd as I think I saw some of the same monster movies del Toro did when I was growing up, and I can only remember being unimpressed by them. They didn’t capture my heart like they did his, but del Toro has well and truly ruined me for other Kaiju films now.

Rating : 5/5