MOVIE REVIEW: Pacific Rim

Pacific-Rim_0

Film: Pacific Rim
Starring: Charlie Hunnam
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro

After what has felt like a year of having the phrase “In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own” shoved in our faces through every advertising avenue imaginable, the time has finally come for the world to feast its collective eyes on Guillermo Del Toro’s latest near-masterpiece, Pacific Rim. It’s as loud, CGI-filled, and eye-poppingly gorgeous as the trailers lead you to believe, and sets a new standard for stand-alone summer blockbusters in ways we haven’t seen in over a decade.

Pacific Rim tells a story set in the not too distant future. A rift has opened on the ocean floor and gigantic monsters, referred to as Kaijus, are emerging from what we believe to be another realm for the purpose of destroying our planet. Leaping into action, the world comes together to build giant robots known as Jaegers to battle the beasts. It works for awhile, but the Kaijus begin to evolve, and when our story really it seems as if mankind’s last hope may no longer be effective. With funds running low and fears on the rise, the Jaeger program is given 8 months before all funding is cut, and in a last ditch effort to save the planet the man in charge of the world’s remaining Jaegers must turn to a former pilot still dealing with the loss of his co-pilot brother to pull off one final mission.

Guillermo Del Toro (and what I can only assume is a team numbering in the hundreds behind him) has pulled off something with Pacific Rim that not long ago would have been completely impossible. Not only has he delivered the most visually stunning film of the year, but he’s managed to create a film that forges an emotional connection between viewers and larger-than-skyscraper robots that feels as real as the connection with any action epic protagonist could ever be. Just as the nations in the film put aside their differences to build the Jaegers, audience members of all walks of life will find themselves a part of team people while sitting in their theater seats. This isn’t a movie about one monster attacking one metropolitan area, but a global event involving dozens of creatures that threatens everyone’s existence. The fact everything on screen is CGI for at least half the film doesn’t matter because the storytelling is so strong you latch on to the events as if they could possibly be real in some alternate reality, and in finding a way to make your mind do that Guillermo Del Toro has further cemented his place as one of the finest filmmakers alive.

It’s not all about the people behind the cameras and CGI, of course, and there’s certainly something to be said for lead cast of Pacific Rim. Though he never completely shakes certain character traits of his Sons Of Anarchy character, Charlie Hunnam makes a commendable protagonist. He’s one of the few characters allotted more than one emotion in the film, and the way Del Toro captures a certain tragedy in his life early on will make you feel for him throughout the adventure, even when his ego starts to get in the way of rational decision making. Rinko Kikuchi, who serves as the only actress in the entire film, is sure to draw acclaim for being the bravest and most noble character in the movie. Women may not have much of a presence in the cast list, but the story of her character is perhaps the most important takeaway of the entire film, and that is due largely in part to Kikuchi’s delivery.

Beyond the Jaeger team, much of the comedy and lighthearted fare of Pacific Rim comes from the supporting cast. Charlie Day, known by many for his work on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, steals this aspect of the film, but that’s not to say Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman, and Idris Elba do not do a fine job in their roles as well.

For all the indie films and artsy period pieces I cling to as symbols of quality filmmaking, there is nothing I love more than seeing a movie that leaves you in such a state of awe you cannot help wearing a smile three miles wide. The kind of film that takes you back to the first time you saw a movie as a child and could not believe what was happening on screen. Disbelief wasn’t just suspended, it was thrown out altogether, and whether it was E.T., Rocky, or Armageddon you felt completely engulfed in a world that was better than your own (even if was plagued by villains/aliens/monsters/etc.). Feeling that way about art is something i think everyone longs for deep down, and as we get older it becomes increasingly hard to be wowed in that way again, but Pacific Rim manages to accomplish just that (over and over again).

If you only see one movie this summer, make it Pacific Rim. This is the kind of movie that may only come along once in a generation, and even if someone pushes for a completely unwarranted sequel/prequel it will stand out for years to come as proof originality is still the best formula for great filmmaking. CGI so good it looks real helps, of course, but at the end of the day what really makes Pacific Rim a success is the fact it looks larger-than-life while managing to connect with viewers in a very believable way. It’s escapism with heart, and you’ll find nothing better at the box office this season.

Drop everything and see Pacific Rim. Run, don’t walk, and be sure to tell everyone you know to do the same.

GRADE: A

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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