A rift between worlds unleashes giant monstrous creatures called Kaiju who seek to destroy humanity. Standing between the Kaiju and certain extinction are giant robots called Jaegers. Jaegers are controlled by two human pilots who share their consciousness (a “neural drift”) in order to pilot these massive machines. As the years pass, the Kaiju grow more powerful and are on the verge of wiping out humanity. Humanity’s last hope rests in the hands of a former Jaeger pilot and a rookie who must pilot a Jaeger from the past to ensure mankind's future.
As we neared the release of this film, my excitement was at near childlike levels as Guillermo Del Toro appeared to have found a way to not only honor the Kaiju films I watched growing up but also deliver an experience the has been missing in theaters for quite some time. The experience I speak of is giant monster movies. After being let down by Cloverfield I felt that this genre would never be embraced by Hollywood again until theGodzilla remake. Del Toro surprised me with not only amazing effects but some solid acting performances from a paint-by-numbers plot. The first element I want to discuss are the Kaiju creatures themselves as they were essentially the star of the film alongside the Jaegers. The design team at ILM did an incredible job not only with each of the Kaiju creature designs but their overall size. These monsters nearly eclipsed the IMAX screen I was watching the film on and added to the grandiose presentation of the film. When Knifehead first appeared on-screen it was a throwback to Sunday afternoon marathons of Godzilla vs. Megalon. Gigan and his design, while more modern, had the vibe of the Godzilla classics. As the film progressed, each Kaiju was bigger, meaner and loaded with special attacks and abilities. The Jaegers were also extremely detailed and each mech had personality and style. Gipsy Danger was the film's signature Jaeger and had a ton of great moments on film. In addition to Gipsy Danger ( USA) we also had Crimson Typhoon (China), Cherno Alpha (Russia) and my second favorite Striker Eureka (Australia) which had a design that looked like something out of Tekkaman Blade and played an integral role in the plot. The effects as a whole were awe-inspiring and can truly be appreciated in IMAX.
The actors in the major roles were solid but I will admit Idris Elba had the most powerful screen presence and at times outshined Charlie Hunnam. Hunnam was no slouch though, as his work on Sons of Anarchy added some grit to his portayal of Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket. Rinko Kikuchi was probably my second favorite member of this cast and her chemistry with Hunnam and Elba was rock solid. Her initial experience inside Gipsy Danger truly added depth to her character and the overall story. My only acting gripe is with Charlie Day who portrayed Dr. Newton Geiszler. Day seemed to be channeling his inner JJ Abram,s which while initially funny got a bit annoying later in the film. On more than one occasion I asked myself “ why is this guy yelling his dialog in nearly every scene”. I get that he was there for the comic relief, but it wears on you as the film progresses.
The last thing I want to touch on is the overall plot of the film which most critics complained about in a majority of their reviews. This film’s allure is not so much the story but the monsters and mechs that are the film's main focus. If you are a seasoned Kaiju fan, you can attest to all the plots being paper-thin with the payoff being a major city destroyed and some monsters duking it out. I really did not understand what critics were looking for since no one was going to the movie for this film's deep storytelling. Audiences went to be entertained and I feel in that regard Pacific Rim succeeded as it embodies what big budget summer blockbusters are about.
If you watched films like Godzilla vs King Ghidorah and remember the fights between Godzilla and Jet Jaguar then it is your duty to see this film. If you can’t shut your brain off and enjoy the presentation and effects and constantly over-analyze, then maybe you will better served watching something else since you’ll most likely end up picking this film apart. Pacific Rim is best enjoyed in the IMAX format since it adds to overall scale of the film and really helps immerse you in the action sequences. The 3D effects did not detract from the film and honestly are barely noticeable in my opinion. If I could have watched the film with just IMAX and no 3D I would have been satisfied.