Direction: Guillermo Del Toro
Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi
Rating: *** 1/2 We may have seen it all before, gasped at the combats in outer and inner space, and yet Pacific Rim, with its mega-display of visual fireworks and a far more accessible plot about monsters versus mankind is frankly, quite irresistible. The Mexican-born filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) takes the end-of-the-world blockbusters to the next level.
Located in the not-too-distant future, we are informed that millions of lives have been lost and many cities destroyed by unsparing monsters called the Kaiju, who have emerged from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. More malevolent than Spielberg’s dinosaurs, the scaly predators can’t be stopped, unless, of course, a group of expendables take up the challenge of combating them to the finish.
Humankind takes on the colossal creatures by creating the Jaeger, a thunderous behemoth which is, after the initial hiccups, navigated by a pair of unlikely heroes. The reluctant fighter-pilot (Hunnam) and his inexperienced new partner (Kikuchi) are offered a chance to retrieve their self-esteem in the ensuing apocalyptic war.
There is no pretension at working in a coherent structure or relatable characters. Instead, Del Toro’s unleashes a steady stream of massive robots and aquatic aliens which attack at random from the ocean and the skies.
Evincing his affection for the monster movie matinees of the past, especially the original Godzilla (Japan, 1956), the director gives the big names in technocracy a run for their bucks.
On the disappointing side, the two hours-plus length does become as an imposition on the viewer who finally overdoses on the sound blasts and the seismic action. As seems mandatory nowadays, the end credits have it own ooh-aah moment involving the black market dealer (Ron Perlman) in monster body parts. With its many highs and lows considered, Pacific Rim gives the much-maligned creature-feature genre a new lease of life.