FINAL THOUGHTS: Pacific Rim

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It’s tough to not be slightly bias when it comes to my opinion regarding PACIFIC RIM. I have a love for films featuring behemoth creatures, so a movie featuring them and gigantic mechs… well, that alone is enough to warrant me screaming in excitement like a little girl. Nevertheless, here are my Final Thoughts on PACIFIC RIM…

Guillermo del Toro is in a league of his own when it comes to imagining worlds and their inhabitants. The level of design in all of his films — whether it’s for some strange supernatural entity, a costume, the set or location — is absolutely phenomenal. When I first heard that he was developing a film called PACIFIC RIM, I paid little attention. When I discovered that this new film was about towering robots and monsters beating the crap out of each other and not Navy ships or surfing as the title may suggest, I stood up and paid a lot of attention.

There is so much about PACIFIC RIM that’s just downright cool. I could easily watch a movie about superheroes and be brought back to my childhood, but PACIFIC RIM actually makes me feel like a kid again. It’s hard to watch this film without having a big, huge smile on your face… unless MY LITTLE PONY and CARE BEARS was your thing as a child (in that case, SMURFS 2 is just around the corner).

PacificRim1While making PACIFIC RIM, del Toro and co-screenwriter Travis Beacham not only created a fictional version of our own world, but also one to which our enemies arise from. The Kaiju — which is Japanese for “strange creature” as well as being universally translated as “giant monster” — are massive beasts that come through an inter-dimensional portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean with only one objective: obliterate the human race. With their tremendous size and their deadly toxins, the monsters wipe out cities as if they’re built of Lego blocks.

After being at war with the Kaiju for over a decade and realizing that they can’t just nuke the monsters forever, the humans decide to seriously fight back and take back their planet; they build the Jaeger (which is a German word that translates as “hunter”), a colossal mech piloted by two people through a concept known as the “drift space”.

This concept was immensely unique and something that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in a film before. It’s when the two pilots’ minds connect as one — their thoughts, memories and feelings shared psychically with one another — in order to control the gargantuan machine around them. The emotional journey that the drifting gives to PACIFIC RIM perfectly divides the drama from the visual spectacle. This is something that del Toro is an absolute master of, especially when you look back at some of his previous efforts such as MIMIC, CRONOS and the Oscar-nominated PAN’S LABYRINTH.

Once the Jaegers and Kaiju meet face-to-face in the film, a brawl to end them all begins. Visually, it’s one of the most epic experiences I’ve ever had while watching a film. It would’ve been rather easy for the film to become lost in a blur of horrendous visual effects (see films such as SPAWN, HULK and TRANSFORMERS to understand what I’m talking about), but PACIFIC RIM rides high and doesn’t become an unfocussed digitalized mess once. This is not only due to the astonishing visual effects team at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic; STAR WARS, JURASSIC PARK, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY and the list goes on and on and on), but also to the near-perfect cinematography of del Toro’s go-to director of photography, Guillermo Navarro.

PacificRim2One thing that goes beautifully with the awe-inspiring visuals is one of the most exciting musical scores I’ve heard in a film in a long time. Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for MAN OF STEEL was damn impressive, but Ramin Djawadi knocks PACIFIC RIM’s soundtrack out of the park. Assisted by rock guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame, Djawadi takes the score for this flick and amps it up to an eleven on a ten scale. Anyone impressed with Djawadi’s work on GAME OF THRONES will surely be grinning when the PACIFIC RIM theme hits.

Headlining PACIFIC RIM in the lead role is relatively unknown actor Charlie Hunnam as the picture’s hero, Raleigh Becket. To my knowledge, this is the first time I’ve actually seen Hunnam act (unfortunately, I still have yet to see his highly acclaimed television series, SONS OF ANARCHY). Apparently he was in the excellent CHILDREN OF MEN, but damn if I can remember his role in that film (though I will definitely revisit it now). Overall, I was quite impressed with his portrayal in PACIFIC RIM. He has a gruff voice and the tough guy act down, so a future with Hunnam as a big-time action star wouldn’t be surprising. Compared to the some of the veteran actors around him, though, he was quite overshadowed at times.

One of these shadows belongs to the always-great Idris Elba. Honestly, Elba made PACIFIC RIM’s human scenes just as great to watch as the Jaeger/Kaiju scenes. When he was on the screen as Marshall Stacker Pentecost, he demanded the audience’s attention. His chemistry with all the cast members around him was flawless and with some truly memorable lines (“…we are canceling the apocalypse!”), Elba’s performance was definitely one of the true highlights of the film. Why that man isn’t a much bigger star yet is beyond me.

Rinko Kikuchi plays Mako Mori in the film; drift-partner and co-pilot to Hunnam’s Raleigh. Out of all the fresh faces and newcomers in the film, Kikuchi impressed me the most. I really cared for Mako in the film due to Kikuchi’s great performance. Her chemistry with the actors around her was mostly hit rather than miss; pretty good with Hunnam and absolutely fantastic when with Elba. Her character probably had the most interesting back-story in the entire film, too.

PacificRim3Charlie Day played Charlie Day in the film. Actually, his character’s name was Dr. Newton Geiszler, but his portrayal was so over-the-top and eccentric that you couldn’t really separate the character from the actor. I enjoy Day, so this wasn’t so much a negative for me as it may seem. If you’re not a fan of Charlie Day, though, I thoroughly expect you to be annoyed during his scenes.

Last but not least, del Toro’s real-life best friend and star of HELLBOY, Ron Perlman. As Hannibal Chau, Perlman pulls off one of his most insanely strange characters ever. You’d expect Day to be the comedy relief in the film, but I’m giving that title to Perlman. Hannibal was such a ridiculously fun character to watch. My only wish was that he had a little more screen time.

I really have to give props to Beacham for creating these characters and their conflicts, but even more props to del Toro for bringing them all to life. This love letter to Japanese Kaiju and Anime films was easily the most fun to be had at the movies this year. Yes, I  could pick it apart if I really wanted to — from some wooden performances to some horribly cheesy dialogue — but why would I want to? In an age when summer films are becoming dark and gritty rather than fun and joyful, PACIFIC RIM was a breath of fresh air.

There’s going to be those out there who’ll say that PACIFIC RIM is a rip-off of some classic Anime series/films, but when it comes to Hollywood motion pictures, they don’t come much more original than this. After all, there’s really not many original ideas out there anymore; it’s all in how you execute an idea. Legendary Pictures and del Toro flawlessly executed this idea and I’d really recommend filmgoers to go and check it out. If you’re one of the ones who always complains about Hollywood only making sequels, reboots and spin-offs, then please go support PACIFIC RIM.

~K

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Final Thoughts are an opinion, not a review. I don’t believe that anyone should base their own opinion on that of another person. Reviewers and critics are just regular people like everyone else and their opinion shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all. What you just read were my Final Thoughts of PACIFIC RIM. I hope you share yours.

About the author

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | Ken loves film -- whether it's collecting them or making them. He's a massive fan of creature features and giant monster flicks and hopes to create one himself one day. He also obsessively collects ThunderCats, King Kong, Pacific Rim and The Last of Us memorabilia.