Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pacific Rim


   In my short break from my Cannon-a-thon, I didn't really go too far off the menu. Giant alien monsters vs guys piloting giant mech robots. Which is the entire concept of Pacific Rim. It's colorful and filled with detail that your average summer blockbuster wouldn't have bothered with. Of course this is no surprise since it's none other than the excellent Guillermo Del Toro at the helm here. I know this review is at least a couple years overdue, and it's not like I haven't seen this movie (several times) before, but better late than never right? Either the giant monsters vs. giant robots line hooked you... or you're wrong. I kid, but only kind of. If the concept doesn't do much for you, the movie won't either. You gotta be a genre fan going into it, or you won't get much out of it. A lot of GDT fans ended up disappointed that this didn't transcend it's own genre, and I'm over here thinking... but why would you even want, need, or expect it to?

  As far as larger than life, cool-factor flicks with giant monsters go, Pacific Rim is at the top of the heap. It's world building and attention to detail is amazing and intricate. Even the most basic concepts in the movie have a ton of care and thought put into them. Hollywood is plagued by giant robots, but thanks I'll take this over Transformers 7: Revenge of the Retards any day. There's a real rhyme and reason to this movie. It's plot makes sense, it's story makes sense, and the characters are fun to watch. Even if most of them are rather cliche and kind of basic, they're still fun. I don't need or expect them to be anything but what they are because the real stars of the movie are the things that are going to be immortalized as action figures.

  Which, if I needed to clarify, isn't Charlie Hunham and Idris Elba- but instead the robot mechs they pilot in the movie. As well as the monsters, of course. What good is a robot toy without a monster toy to battle it with? That's what this movie feels like to me- the epic toy battles I had with my action figures as a kid were always so much bigger and larger than life in my head, and here they are on the big screen. Heroic sacrifice, futuristic technology, alien creatures, the works. This movie has it all. It's like it was ripped straight from the imagination of a 10 year old playing with his toys, and then refined through the detail laden mind of GDT himself. The backstory? The world it takes place in? Those things are where the real creativity shines.

  A whole slum made out of the bones of one of these monsters, called Kaiju, is just one of the many spectacular sights in the movie. There's also a scene that takes place inside a Kaiju, and one that takes place entirely underwater. It's all fantastic. Even so, I feel I could easily spend this whole review just defending it from haters, and there's many of them. Some claim that they too like giant monster movies, they just like them better written than this. Whatever. The story, plot, dialog- all of it was fine in my opinion. So what if it's not Oscar worthy material? I mean, it's well crafted entertainment and I think a lot of people simply wanted it to be something it was never going to be. I also think they've found nothing but excuses for their dislike of it, instead of admitting that the movie was fine- it was in fact their expectations that were out of line.

  Charlie Hunham as Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori have great chemistry as the two main leads, and while there's all sorts of compatibility there, the movie never stops to make time for a romantic subplot. They're comrades, maybe even friends- but, hello? The world is ending. There's no time for romance. The rest of the cast is just as great. Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau- a black market Kaiju body parts dealer -is fantastic. He's a real on screen delight. Then we have Idris Elba as Marshall Stacker Pentecost, a role that seems tailor made for him. He has a great presence and the right kind of gravitas for the part. Bringing up the rear is Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as two manic scientists who are probably the only bearable comedic relief I've seen in a big budget blockbuster in a long time.

  The action scenes are amazingly creative and there's a real ever-present sense of scale and weight. When these giant robot mechs, called Jaegers, go charging through a city to lock horns with a Kaiju- you can feel their size. It's epic in the true sense of the word. The visuals of this movie, whether it's a scene focused on dialog between two characters, or it's another epic battle scene- are breathtaking. The use of color is awesome and is sheer eye candy. There is not one dull or uninteresting shot in the whole movie. The cinematography is excellent. Strong visuals score really high with me and I'm willing to admit that because of the gorgeous, breathtaking visuals in this movie I may be glossing over some of it's shortcomings, but I'm okay with that.

   Bottom line? I enjoy the hell out of Pacific Rim. It's a big summer blockbuster flick with massive amounts of detail and care poured into it. It's big, it's exciting, it's loud and action packed. On top of all of that, it looks fantastic as well. The kind of colors and visuals usually trapped on a page in a comic book. Here it's brought to life vividly as monsters slash, roar, wreak havoc and mechanized giants respond with a high-tech arsenal of devastating weaponry.  I can't get enough of this movie, and I can't believe it's sequel is currently trapped in developmental hell. If this is how people treat big blockbusters that get it right, something's wrong. Pacific Rim is great in my opinion and it's exceptionally eye catching on Blu Ray. Strongly recommended, with a side of popcorn.

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