Directed by Guillermo del Toro - Written by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro - Produced by a whole bunch o' folks - Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, Max Martini
I've been curious about the film that stole Guillermo del Toro from the director's chair of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for quite a while now. The initial trailers made it look like an entertaining enough step up from the Transformers series but none of them every really grabbed me. Nevertheless, though, the film had my curiosity because of the attached name(s) and the thought of a reprieve from Hollywood's recent string of sequels/remakes. When the first reviews started to tickle in, as Calvin Candie would say, it now had my attention. Guillermo del Toro's latest effort, a tale of giant monsters versus equally monstrous "Jaegers" and the men and women who pilot them to defend humanity, is easily the most fun I've had in a multiplex this summer. Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam is quite likable as jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket, not giving a perfect performance but still an impressive one given his relative newcomer status to the world of big-budget Hollywood. Idris Elba owns this film as Stacker Pentecost, the man in charge of the Jaeger program, showcasing once again why he stands up there with Benedict Cumberbatch on my list of actors able to command any performance. Sons' Ron Perlman also has a brief but delightful role as Hannibal Chau, one man you never want to run into in Hong Kong.
I warmed up to Mako and the bumbling scientists (especially J.J... I mean Newt, who I really got a kick out of) as the film went on and, I have to say, it's an overall great ensemble cast albeit with a few thin characters. When all is said and done, though, you can forgive Guillermo for a few minor character shortcomings because what you've really come for is the monster-crushing action. In this respect, Pacific Rim delivers monumentally. Right off the bat, Guillermo begins showcasing a ton of Kaiju/Jaeger face-offs eons more interesting than anything you'll find in the Transformers films. Something about them clicked with that little kid inside me who's still obsessed with Gundam and Toho's Godzilla films, not ironically "kaiju" being the word to refer to the latter's giant baddies. Along those lines, the production design of this film is flawless (Hong Kong appearing like how one might imagine Chinatown in Joel Schumacher's Gotham) and the special effects are fantastic, making Pacific Rim more than worth the price of admission to see it on the big screen. Having viewed it in both IMAX 3D and the standard format, I can also say that the IMAX 3D adds to the experience though it could cause you to lose a little bit of spacial awareness when closeups of rain-drenched giant fists start flying about. You can tell that this has been Guillermo del Toro's pet project for years: his trademark visual flair and strong human relationships are written all over this film, enough so as to make it what might be my favorite film of the summer.
See it: If you are seeking a hell of a good time and can forgive a few cliched relationships and bits of summer camp even if the overall product is remarkably original.
Pass: If the thought of giant monsters vs. giant robots doesn't appeal to you and a somewhat formulaic ending isn't worth the thrill ride up to it, in which case I might recommend trying the theatre for your summer entertainment.
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