Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: Pacific Rim

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
If you desire to do a great injustice to this movie, you should compare it to other works of its director, Guillermo del Toro. An even bigger injustice would be to compare Pacific Rim to del Toro’s best film,  the brilliant movie El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth).

But these movies aren’t comparable, simply because of the fact that they play in different movie arenas. Del Toro’s latest film was made with only on purpose in mind – to look stunning on the big screen. Its story is based on the notion that good giant robots called Jagers, piloted by humans, fight against giant monsters called Kaijus. These huge, mindless aliens appeared on the bottom of the Pacific ocean, traveling to Earth through an interdimensional portal. Every human relationship in this movie is mostly irrelevant; the robots vs. monsters is the only really important thing, and it requires no additional reason or explanation.

As a monster movie should do, this film presents the  fights in great detail and length, keeping the dialogs, plot twists and everything else that requires any mental processing on an elementary school level. In Pacific Rim, audience has the liberty to focus all of its energy into the simple act of seeing, because there is nothing to understand (or miss out on). It this aspect, del Toro came close to Peter Jackson’s movies – every second of CGI is flawlessly animated, and the level of details (robot’s armor, buildings and vehicles that get caught up in the destruction) in every fight is stunning. In this aspect, I’m sure this film will stand the test of time, at least during this decade, before it starts to look outdated.

Charlie Hunnam held his own as the main character, reactivated pilot and unwilling warrior, Raleigh Becket, although in some scenes his body language (swaggering walk) reverts to Jax  from the TV show Sons of Anarchy. In spite of that, this role definitely shows he has a lot of star potential. The supporting cast is even better – veterans like Idris Elba and Ron Perlman are expectedly steadfast in the shoes of their characters (in Perlman’s case, those shoes are literally gold-plated), while Charlie Day provides the comic relief as the ecstatic scientist dr. Newton Geiszler.

In spite of the fact that the plot is paper thin, I was impressed how the writers managed to sneak in some environmental ideas about humanity's influence on the phenomenon of climate change. Although it was very subtle and not in any way preachy, it’s still nice to see that art, even in this simplified form, doesn’t neglect its duty to raise awareness about the problems we face in real life.

Basically a prolonged episode of Power Rangers on enormous budget and better script writers (plus a bit of a "disaster porn" approach), Pacific Rim is everything that a summer blockbuster should be. In any other iteration, it could have turned out as an overly ambitious failure or a unintentionally funny and childish film, but del Toro took all the ingredients and made this movie just right.