In Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Screenplay: Travis Beachem and Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman

Running Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and brief language

The premise: You get this in the first five minutes of the film. Between two tectonic plates, the infamously active “Ring of Fire”, a dimensional rift opens releasing kaiju, giant monsters. To stop their increasing appearances and destruction, the world makes peace with itself to build jaegers, giant robots that require two drivers to mentally link, or “drift”, to operate them. In the next ten minutes we then witness the fall of USA’s Gypsy Danger to a kaiju. Cue movie title. What’s nice about this is we get a quick intro, overview and then some robot versus monster action. It’s only a taste of what’s to come. Overall grade: A

The story: Six years later, the jaegers are being mothballed (since they’re slowly losing to the ever growing kaiju) and the world is focusing its resources on building huge walls along the coasts of all cities. Program Director Stacker Pentecost (Elba) pulls disgraced Raleigh (Hunnam) from wall work to again pilot a jaeger, which have all been relocated to Hong Kong. Mako (Kikuchi) wants to be Raleigh’s new co-pilot, but Pentecost won’t let her. Add in Day and Gorman as wacky scientists and Perlman as a terrific underworld seller of kaiju parts and you’ve got the main cast in action. There’s no character here or plot complication you haven’t seen before in live action films or anime productions. Perlman, Day and Gorman have the most fun with their characters, while everyone else plays it straight. They’re okay, but, let’s be honest, you’re paying for the carnage. Overall grade: B+

The action: The battle for Hong Kong is the greatest action sequence I’ve seen since George Lucas thrilled the world with Star Wars. My mouth was open the entire time, when it wasn’t screaming at every punch and surprise in the chaos. Just when you think the battle has reached its endpoint, del Toro throws in something awesome and new. This battle occurs at the midpoint of the movie and it is stunning. The opening pre-title fight is good, yet left me wondering, “Is this what it’s going to be like?” Oh, hell no. Each battle, and there are several (which no trailer has ruined!), increases in the number of jaeger and kaiju. The jaegers are amazing. I want to own the Russian one! The kaiju are the greatest giant monsters of cinema since Godzilla. I want dolls/busts/posters of each! If you’ve ever watched anything with giant robots or giant monsters for entertainment this is the godhead of anything you’ve ever read, seen or dreamed. Overall grade: A+++

The conclusion: A nail biting, intense finale. There’s really no doubt what will come in the end, but our heroes’ fate is in question. The film is wrapped up, and that’s all there is, but you could probably think of several ways to do a sequel, but that’s never tipped in this ending. Overall grade: A+

The credits: Stay through the first five minutes; there’s something you’ll want to see. It had me and those who remained in the theater laughing and cheering. Overall grade: A+++

The final line: I was told by my fellow genre fanatics to avoid Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. They told me that I hate them, so I followed their advice and didn’t go. I saw Star Trek Into Darkness and was horribly let down. I saw World War Z and felt it would lose nothing if seen on television. Pacific Rim is a game changer for summer movies. I haven’t been this floored since Star Wars with the scope of its universe. This is the movie you must see this summer. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyers Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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