When growing up in the 1970s, there were the types of films that made us children excited and filled us with awe. My friends and I would walk home from our neighborhood theater and enthusiastically exclaiming things like “Do you remember when” this happened, or” Do you remember when” that happened. These films often starred actors like Doug McClure or Patrick Wayne; or, were made by the likes of Ray Harryhausen. There were also the Japanese big monster films (this genre is often referred as Kaiju) to add to that mix. But most of those I saw on TV. I did see Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster and War of the Gargantuas on the big screen. Though I’ve loved many films that fit into those genre favorites, there really hasn’t been a film that tapped into my childhood wonder like those films from that bygone age. Until I saw Pacific Rim that is. Director Guillermo Del Toro has successfully fashioned a film that recreates the feeling that was produced in this former little boy.
The film presents the premise that an inter-dimensional rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean allows gigantic monsters to pass through. These monsters simply seem to want to attack big cities and kill people. The entire world then put aside their differences and pools their resources to construct equally enormous robots piloted by a two man crew to fight these creatures. This becomes so successful that the world barely views the monsters a threat anymore. But then the creatures seem to learn the robots weaknesses and things change from there. First walls are constructed around land masses. The monsters can simply tear through them with little effort. Humanity then falls back on the robots to figh this threat.
Other plot elements include a childhood trauma caused by a Kaiju attack, a bitter rivalry between two pilots, as well a less bitter one between two scientists. This last plot point with these two scientists played by Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) and Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises), as well as Day’s scenes with Del Toro regular, Ron Perlman (Hellboy himself) are the best of the human elements of the film. The other elements are good enough, but don’t gain the interest as much as they should.
What’s really important in this film is the big picture: from the creatures attacking to the human’s different reactions and then the true nature of these Kaiju attacks and its implications. And, let’s face it; the most important thing in Pacific Rim is the battles between the Kaiju and the robots; in other words, the cool stuff. And this film is over flowing with the cool stuff. There’s great visuals effects here that even people who have some trouble with the over use of CGI (like myself) will still love, I think. I still will love a good old fashioned man-in-a-rubber-suit Godzilla flick. But, this stuff looks mighty spectacular, especially at the IMAX 3D viewing that I attended.
Overall, the film’s a bit too long, but was very much a blast! See it on the big screen. That’s what this flick was made for.—Charles T. Cochran
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)