Movie Review: “Pacific Rim” – Monstrously Engaging

Written by Jesse Gelinas July 12, 2013

A Kaiju skull on display in "Pacific Rim"

Two thousand five hundred tons of awesome!

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a year. Guillermo del Toro is fast becoming one of my favourite filmmakers, and seems to be an all around awesome guy. He’s got a thing for classic films, monsters, and Ron Perlman. With the announcement that he was helming a throwback to the creature features of old, I was so fucking there it’s not even funny. Del Toro has yet to let me down, and after seeing what is arguably the action spectacle of the year, I can say… it’s exactly what you hoped it would be.

“Pacific Rim” takes place in the near future. Years before, a portal between dimensions opened beneath the Pacific Ocean. Huge monsters began emerging one at a time, destroying everything in their path. In response to this new threat, humanity rallies together and creates the Jaegers. Giant. Robotic. Killing machines. On the brink of a major invasion, the Jaeger program is all that stands between the survival, and extinction of the human race. INITIATE: Awesomeness.

“Numbers are as close as we get to the handwriting of God.”

Starting with the obvious, the film looks amazing. The effects are all top notch, and every creature is designed to look both badass and instantly intriguing. Del Toro has a way with monsters, and it shows here. Yes, every major battle conveniently takes place in the rain, but for the sake of great looking action and effects, I’ll let it slide. Every fight is intense and brutally violent. That is saying a lot for a battle where neither side is actually human. It’s easy to see that del Toro’s early work with creature flicks and monster stories has been building to this kind of payoff. And I’d say it was well worth the wait.

A Kaiju attacks the Hong Kong harbour in "Pacific Rim"

The cast is solid and the supporting players sell the film. Idris Elba fits the bill as Marshall Pentecost, the man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Every word drips with gravitas, and his mere presence just oozes authority. He steals every scene he’s in and embeds the stakes of the film in the audience’s mind. Charlie Day and Ron Perlman both put on a pretty great comedic showing, and let a little light into the pessimism that hangs over much of the plot. Kikuchi as Mako is a great, strong female lead who doesn’t allow herself to fall into the cliches of the classic archetypes. She’s a good foil to Hunnam’s Raleigh, and holds her own in every emotional scene she shares with Elba. The entire cast sells the emotional impact of the story perfectly, and helps the film rise above your average summer blockbusters.

“I’ll always be here for you. You can always find me in the drift.”

What I love about “Pacific Rim” is del Toro’s refusal to force-feed us a love story. Raleigh and Mako meet and instantly there’s a connection, but it’s not a romance. There’s no courting or sexual tension. It’s an emotional and mental connection and it leads to a powerful partnership, and that is the driving force of the film. It’s refreshing to see two attractive leads thrown together for something intriguing and exciting and not just a half-assed love story. The two share good chemistry, and this helps up the ante during the really heavy action.

Marshall Stacker Pentecost suits up for battle in "Pacific Rim"

The film also has a terrific score by Ramin Djawadi (of “Game of Thrones” fame). Every scene seems to have the perfect soundtrack, and there’s plenty of hardcore, badass moments made all the more exhilarating by the superb music behind them. Paired with the awesome effects, and the solid script, it all makes “Pacific Rim” an extremely entertaining time.

“Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

“Pacific Rim” is one of those movies that you just know has something special. Even if you can’t pinpoint it right away, it’s just there. Del Toro’s film is a fantastic homage to an almost extinct sub-genre (kept breathing only by straight to DVD crapfests), and an altogether great action movie. Everything about it comes together perfectly and lets you immerse yourself fully into the high impact action, vast destruction, and heartfelt emotion of the characters’ stories. It’s a new benchmark for monster movies, a new standard for blockbusters, and hopefully a sign of more great things to come from Guillermo del Toro.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Theatrical poster for "Pacific Rim"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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