If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you took your Inception, Godzilla and Transformers DVDs and mixed them together in a blender, well, the chances are you’d have to replace your blender. But also, you’d end up with something that feels a lot like Pacific Rim.
In the near future, Earth will be invaded by a giant alien race, lovingly termed Kaiju. These monsters don’t emerge from the sky though; but in fact travel to our world through a portal in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Our only saviours are the giant mechanical fighting machines developed by mankind, Jaegers, and their highly skilled pilots. It is utterly preposterous and embraces that fact; but then the latest movie from Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth) is very much an epic monster vs. giant robot carnage orgy. Any semblance of realism or coherent story is beaten out of the audience in the action packed opening 15 minutes, all before the title has appeared.
From a director that prides himself on using quite simply amazing practical effects in his previous works, Pacific Rim is somewhat of a break with tradition. Gone are the intricate make-up effects of Hellboy; and gone are the haunting set-pieces of Pan’s Labyrinth. Instead, what we’re left with are CGI Optimus Prime on steroids and CGI Godzilla on acid. Pacific Rim suffers from simply too much CGI (and not good stuff either); and as with the recent Man Of Steel, it just all starts to look like a cartoon. Unfortunately del Toro also appears to have contracted Michael Bay/Transformers syndrome, in that the fights are virtually indistinguishable. It’s like trying to watch boxing on the TV, when drunk, with someone constantly flicking channels. Who threw that punch? Who’s that on the floor? Which giant alien lizard just demolished that building? Well ok, maybe not boxing, but I’m sure you get the point.
There are human actors in it; but they’re as robotic as their giant metallic counterparts. What dialogue there is, is clunky and cheesy but what else can it be when delivered with a 220 foot robot in the background? There’s a bloke from Queer As Folk in it (a ripped Charlie Hunnam), a bloke from EastEnders (Robert Kazinsky) and a criminally underused Idris Elba. In a movie such as this, the acting very much takes second stage.
In several interviews del Toro has stated how he wanted to get younger audiences excited for monster movies again. But in doing so, he has unfortunately created a movie that essentially caters to just that audience. Adults might certainly feel a little overlooked in this, and that’s a shame given he’s proven himself in the past with balancing fantasy and sci-fi with some slightly more adult themes.
So, it comes down to is it worth a trip to the cinema to see this? If robots vs. aliens is your thing, then certainly, yes, go and see it. But be warned: there is very little else to it, and what there is, is definitely nothing new. Whether it be monsters levelling cities, machines smacking the bejesus out of things, or people mind-melding and sharing memories, it has all been seen before (see DVD smoothie recipe above). If you’re on the fence about seeing it, then still go and try it because you won’t get the same experience at home on DVD. For everyone else, give it a miss and watch some classic del Toro instead.