BOTTOM LINE: If you want to see a movie about giant mechs fighting giant bug/dinosaur/aliens, then you will not be disappointed.
The Kaijus, colossal pre-historic beasts, have found a way to transport through a portal in the Pacific Ocean to scout, and ultimately rule, the planet Earth. In response, the world has culled their resources and created Jaegers, giant robot warriors controlled by a team of two pilots, with the sole purpose of kicking Kaiju ass.
More waves of Kaijus appear in the Pacific only to get gloriously destroyed by Jaegers. But unfortunately in 2025, (and this is where all the fun starts), the Kaijus were only getting started. What seems to be a controllable invasion of Godzilla’s bastard cousins quickly becomes a major crisis – they’re nearly unbeatable. After losing many Jaegers and pilots, the world brings the four remaining Jaegers to Hong Kong in a last ditch attempt to save the world from destruction and colonization.
His versatility and talent has made Guillermo del Toro a mainstay for a reason. He wrote and directed two installments of “Hellboy” and he also has serious street cred, as seen by his film-buff-fave “Pan’s Labyrinth” or his first film, “The Devil’s Backbone.”
In “Pacific Rim”, we see him playing with toys – using all $190 million of his budget. Although it didn’t really work here (not really sure why – see below), it’s going gangbusters abroad, closing in on the $300 million mark in foreign sales.
On this movie particularly, you have to call a spade a spade: Guillermo set out to make a fun, big, summer movie. And he did. But Guillermo is just as thorough, just as thoughtful, and just as creative as he usually is. He’s managed to roll together giant special effects, a post-apocalyptic, Matrix-like society, martial arts-enhanced pilot drama reminiscent of “Top Gun,” and pre-fight rev-up scenes that give Voltron a run for their money.
I applaud Guillermo for making this an ensemble flick, choosing to let the story work without the a super star actor driving the flick. The pilots, led by Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”), work well as a unit that full of its own ups and downs but ultimately come together. There’s a research development featuring Charlie Day playing a part as a delightfully neurotic scientist – not as neurotic as ‘Philadelphia’s “Charlie” though – and he brought both laughs and exposition. I would say, though, that Guillermo’s frequent collaborator/buddy, Ron Pearlman as an expat living in Hong Kong running the black-market Kaiju part trade, was a bit on the underwhelming side. But then again, as a Hellboy fan, I’m always a bit shocked to see Ron Pearlman not in red.
Best part of all, if you ask me, is that Guillermo clearly loves every part of this movie. No matter what you’ve heard or think you “know,” this isn’t an exec-concocted formula for money: there’s nary a pretentious moment or a phone-in storyline. This may not be the all-serious action movie that we expect in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s comic-opus, “The Dark Knight,” but it’s precisely the kind of move you want to see if you don’t take yourself too seriously to miss out on some serious movie fun.