Big monsters beget big weapons beget even bigger expectations, and as far as I’m concerned the expectations were met or possibly exceeded.
I have been anticipating the release of “Pacific Rim” since November or December of last year, and Thursday night I was finally able to see if I had rightfully foamed at the mouth about what I should expect from this movie. The trailers that were selected did a great job of conveying the mountainous beings and machines that would be at the forefront of the experience for movie goers. A true summer flick was presented to us, and we owe thanks for the high level of execution.
Going in you’re to understand, from the trailers, the Earth is under attack from hostile leviathans. This could have been another alien attack from any random corner of the universe, but we’re told the monsters came from underneath our very feet depending on how you look at it. The oceans provide a lot of extraordinary things which we get to see on channels like Discovery Channel or at giant aquariums, but they also hold age old secrets hidden by just the sheer depth of the ocean floor. That fact, the fact that so much is unknown about what the ocean holds, makes it a more interesting origin than just having the monsters, called Kaiju (Japanese for strange creature/monster), come from outer-space.
An interesting enemy has to have an interesting combatant, and humans don’t cut the mustard entirely on their own.
This is where the giant mechs, called Jaegers (German for hunters), come in. I was worried they, along with the Kaiju, would be used as giant CGI crutches, but they really weren’t. The detailing on them was so unbelievably good that you feel as though they’re really in this world rather than superimposed on it. Also, I was worried the mechs would come off as giant, clumsy weapons, but they come off as graceful yet extremely powerful tools which are extensions of the pilots. Each Jaeger is allowed to translate the personality of its pilot tandem, and that makes it feel like they’re not just being rolled out and stuffed with a random Joe. There’s a very interesting plot device as to why the Jaegers reflect the personalities of their pilots, but I can’t remember if any of the trailers basically give this away. I’ll leave it to you to see why it is this way, and what you think of it. I, personally, loved it. Also, the mechs don’t just give humans a tiny glimmer of hope; they represent a constant winning chance while also showing desperation. They’re not conventional or as boring as typical last ditch efforts that arise in invasion themed movies, and that’s a high level blessing. Instead, you get pilots that are transmuted into heroes that are hundreds of feet tall.
Giant mechanized suits are nothing without capable characters to keep the audience involved, and the cast selected was beyond adequate.
Raleigh Becket, played by Charlie Hunnam, is essentially the key figure in “Pacific Rim”, and is basically the typical steely eyed hero with emotional baggage. Hunnam carries this role well, and you don’t find yourself looking at his character as just an empty shell which is often the problem with this character type. Not many people can pull it off, but Hunnam does. His character, Becket, gives off an understanding of the magnitude of the things he’s involved in without looking overwhelmed in the slightest. He also meshes well with other characters he interacts with throughout the movie even while doing the whole withdrawn/loner thing. I feel a lot of actors who have to go for this type of character can only portray withdrawal by making their characters seem disconnected, but Hunnam executes it while also appropriately interacting with the rest of the cast.
Another central figure is Idris Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost. I enjoy Elba from his days on “The Wire” and love that he’s been able to keep his career going as well as expand it. That being said, I was worried he’d be forced down the audience’s throat as a type of figurehead character that everyone is familiar with. My worries were for naught though, because he was slotted perfectly into a role where he didn’t loom too large. Elba provided a dauntless leader for the Jaeger Program. His job, as much as leading, was to keep a brave front, and Elba pulled this off without a hitch. It might be the British thing, but it’s sort of just in his acting DNA.
I won’t go into the other characters, but I’ll say you’ll find some character types that were unexpected. These unexpected types gave the film a less homogenized feeling, and allowed for more interesting dialog from time to time.
I definitely recommend you see “Pacific Rim” sometime soon. This is a summer movie if I’ve ever seen one, but that’s not meant in any negative way at all. This just howls fun times.
Note: there is an extra scene during the credits, so stick around.
I have skipped some movie reviews, but hopefully I return to a more steady review schedule. I won’t go back and do the old ones though.