Cancelling the apocalypse one monster at a time

Featuring

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket
Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost
Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori
Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Beckett
Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky as Herc and Chuck Hansen/the Aussie Bogans
Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau, the whitest Asian dude ever
with Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as Dr. Newton Geizler and Dr. Herman Gottleib aka. the Comic Relief Team

Pacific Rim is frankly the most visually spectacular movie this year. Sure, Man of Steel has a collateral damage budget far exceeding an American friendly fire incident, but Pacific Rim has giant robots. Controlled with a neural interface with its pilots. Awesome sauce. This is as close to a live action Evangelion movie we’re likely to get for the forseeable future. Also, it doesn’t have any weird mind-bending philosophy or any characters with daddy issues. Well, except for that really bogan Aussie pilot. He was a real jerk.

The basis of the story is that the world is being attacked by giant monsters – known as kaiju – coming out of a dimensional portal. The first few are incredibly difficult to take down with conventional military hardware and the world quickly starts to build the metallic behemoths known as Jaegers (the German word for hunter) to fend off the attacks. Initially, they are extremely successful, but the monsters begin to not only adapt to the arsenal of humanity, but the frequency of their attacks begin to increase exponentially to the point where the construction speed of Jaegers is no longer able to keep up with the pace of attacks.

Our hero is Raleigh Beckett, formerly a top gun Jaeger pilot with his brother Yancy (really? Yancy?). The strain on the brain when controlling one of the giant robots is so large that you actually need to pilots synchronised together to ensure that there is no damage to the highly trained personnel. Unfortunately – and predictably, a routine interception of a kaiju goes wrong on their watch and Yancy is killed by the monster. Raleigh manages to kill it, but not before his jaeger sustains pretty heavy damage. Fast forward a few years, and the world has nearly given up the idea of giant mechs as saviours. The monsters have become bigger, more capable and more frequent and only a few operational mechs remain. So they build a giant wall instead. Yeah, that will work well. Because of the desperate situation, Raleigh is called back to service to pilot his original mech, Gipsy Danger and his new partner is a Japanese girl named Mako Mori in what is a last ditch effort to seal off the portal that allows the monsters through.

Pacific Rim is hardly an intellectual film and never pretends to be. The characters are given enough motivation and backstory and the end of the world scenario is very well handled. It is purely about the war against the kaiju and an attempt to permanently stop the threat. To that end, the script is well focused, paced appropriately and has just the right amount of comic relief from the two principle military researchers. Those two characters are the highlight of the movie, they are funny, but not over the top and they had more on screen chemistry than the two lead characters.

What I did find slightly silly is the mantra displayed in the movie about how the robots fight. It is exclusively close in, hand to hand (claw?) combat. Each robot has a unique finishing move or weapon – Gipsy Danger has dual plasma cannons for example – but there is no long range weapon. I mean, really, you could use the conventional military to actually fly in and soften up the target a bit before you had to use the mechs to intercept and finish them off. Why wouldn’t you also arm the mechs with some good long range weapons I’ll never know. What I do know is that it’s awesome that finally there is some decent Australian military arse kicking, even if the bogan accent is as powerful as their weapons systems.

I liked Pacific Rim, it was fun, visually stunning and the characters were enjoyable enough and they worked on screen extremely well. The designs of the jaegers and the kaiju were excellent, a great tribute to the genre that originated in Japan. I wonder if there will be a sequel?

Rating

It’s a dumb robot fighting movie with giant monsters and one dimensional characters. So yes, I love it!

Should I watch this?

Yes, although the caveat is that it’s really a bloke’s movie and your missus is unlikely to enjoy it. Will go down better with lots of junk food.

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