Friday, March 14, 2014

Pacific Rim (2013)

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, Ron Perlman

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Synopsis: Colossal, hi-tech, and otherworldly monsters called Kaijus have instigated war with humans on Earth. These monsters enter Earth through a portal on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, and they do so in increasing frequency and power as the war continues. In response, the countries in the Pacific Rim create massive machines called Jaegers that are controlled by pilots who work together through neurological connection. Jaeger commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) persuades Raleigh Becket, played by Charlie Hunnam, to return to active duty and fight in a final effort against the Kaijus, which he, his co-pilot Mako Mori, and Pentecost lead against all odds in order to end the war.

Reviewer’s Rating: 4/5 Reels


Director Guillermo del Toro wants the audience to relate to and connect to the characters, buying into the story and world of Pacific Rim. In addition to being praised for fantastic visual effects and riveting action sequences, the main characters, Raleigh Becket, Mako Mori, and Stacker Pentecost are portrayed as courageous heroes fighting to save the world against the giant alien monsters.

In the beginning of the film, the conflicts are introduced. Raleigh’s brother, Yancy Becket, tragically died while they were both connected in and fighting in the Jaeger. Although the audience, and to some extent, the Pacific Rim residents are rooting for those who pilot the Jaegers and support the program, the government deems the program ineffective as they begin to lose against the powerful Kaijus. Without government funding, the four remaining Jaegers are sent to Hong Kong to protect the coast while a wall is being built. It is obvious that this man-made wall is going to be a feeble and ineffective barrier. However, the destruction of the cities and the Kaiju/Jaeger battles are visually striking with exciting imagery and cinematography, which makes up for some of the predictable plot points. For example, one memorable action sequences was the battle on the coast with the two Category 4 Kaijus. In this scene, three Jaegers are sent out to the coast. The special effects of the inside of the robot make the technology look realistic and impressive and the jerking movements that the pilots experience feel very real. The camera switches from the perspective of the pilots, shots close to the water, and aerial or wide-angle shots to create a full 360° picture and a suspenseful, edge-of-your seat mood. The Kaijus end up destroying Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha and disabling Striker Eureka, putting Raleigh and Mako up to take a last stand.

What makes this movie stand out among the countless other giant robots vs. giant monsters movies and stories is the potential for more well-developed characters. Surprisingly, there is a lot more dialogue than expected. Raleigh seems typical as a protagonist, in my opinion. But the father-daughter relationship between Pentecost and Mako, the equal strength and force of the various protagonists, and the partnership between Raleigh and Mako make the film more interesting. I agree with other movie critics in that the character development is not as good as it could have been, but it seems like the director kept a fair balance between pure action and subtle, quality character interaction.

Because of the father roles that Pentecost and Chuck have, it is sad for the audience when they honorably sacrifice themselves and detonate the bomb in the final battle. These actors did a good job of putting passion, emotion, and overall life into their characters. Because of this, I would say that the casting for the main characters is top-notch.

As a sci-fi action movie, Pacific Rim seemingly mixes more meaningful and detailed narrative (that the Japanese are known for) with the good ol’ Hollywood focus on straightforward entertainment and high-energy action. If Kaijus really did invade the world, people would probably want to build Jaegers or something similar in real life to use as a weapon. But of course, as a broad application, I do think the story is something that the audience can enjoy, not just as an entertaining piece of fiction, but as a glimpse into what it would look like for different countries and people to work and fight together for a common cause and for humanity and earth in general. Thus, movie watchers from all kinds of cultures, but especially those who like sci-fi action, can appreciate Pacific Rim.

By: Kim Davong

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