In the not too distant future, aliens have invaded Earth through a portal hidden deep under the ocean. The human race has created huge robots – piloted by two people – in order to battle the Kaiju and survive. Former pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) must team up with a rookie in a last ditch effort to save the world.
The trailer for Pacific Rim promised monsters vs robots, and that is definitely what is on display here, and what the audience for the film expects to see. Guillermo del Toro has created a film that is heavy on action and violence, with just enough human interaction to carry the story forward. That said, however, don’t expect the human interaction to be extremely smart or original.
It would be fairly pointless to talk through the performances in any great detail, as each falls into the category of action movie cliché. As Raleigh, Charlie Hunnam is a man with a tortured past unwillingly brought back into the fray, Idris Elba is the commander willing to put his life on the line and Rinko Kikuchi is the rookie with everything to prove. The comic relief comes from Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the scientists tasked with finding out more about the enemy. Every single move by the characters can be seen a mile off, and there is really very little in terms of dialogue or characterisation – what little there is of it – to surprise.
Where the film comes into it’s own, however, is the visual. The Jaegers (Robots) and Kaiju (Monsters/Aliens) are not only well created, but they are built for scale. The battles between the two are epic in every sense of the word, and when a Jaeger collapses on an Alaskan beach, it is incredibly reminiscent of The Iron Giant. That said, however, the film suffers visually as all the major battles take place either at night, in the rain, or at the bottom of the ocean, which leaves them difficult to watch at times.
Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro’s screenplay is patchy, and the dialogue is often riddled with clichés, and del Toro’s direction certainly seems to be focused on the non-human characters in the film. There are some great moments, however; Charlie Day has rarely been as good, and his double act with Burn Gorman is fun (for the most part) and Idris Elba gets some of the best and most cheesy lines in the film.
If you go into Pacific Rim expecting fights on an epic scale, you will not be disappointed. If you expect strong dialogue and well fleshed out characters however, you will. Pacific Rim never tries to be anything it’s not, and that is where the charm lies. Just don’t think about it too much, the film ought to come with a plothole warning.