I realize I’m a little late in posting this one, but if you haven’t seen Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim yet, you need to go do so. Now. No other film I’ve seen this summer – and there’ve been far too many of those than I care to admit – contains the amount of sheer, unadulterated fun that PR does over its 131 minute showing. How fun are we talking? Well, it takes my previous summer favorite in this category – Justin Lin’s Fast Six – and crushes it under the boot of a 2000 ton Jaeger.
In concept, PR feels a lot like something that crawled out of an 8 year old’s imagination – giant robots defend the Earth from inter-dimensional invaders. And in execution, PR feels a lot like something that a grown child would put together, full of jaw-dropping, glee-inducing moments that begin basically as soon as the movie does. Epic oozes from the pores of this movie, and then explodes out of it. The sight of a screen-filling Kaiju smashing San Francisco starts all this off, but he’s only the first of a whole bunch in this movie, each actually bigger in scope than the last.
The real star of the film, though, are the Jaegers, and even though Gipsy Danger and Stryker Eureka are the only ones really featured [a fact that still frustrates me, by the way], their battles with the Kaiju singlehandedly make the price of admission. Whether on land or by sea, the amount of destruction at their hands is always impressive, and you’ll leave each fight itching for the next “event”. As you might expect, the film’s most impressive sequence is one of these fights, set on the shores of Hong Kong, where a gorgeous array of city lights serve as the background. PR didn’t quite meet my initial expectations as “the most visually impressive movie I’ve ever seen”, but it’s still really high up there. Probably alongside Man of Steel and behind Avatar.
PR is not without flaws, of course. The writing tends to be cringe-worthy at parts, the acting, even worse. Mako Mori’s slightly problematic character gets few lines of any kind, and Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Bennet is pretty generic, for the most part. Let’s just say you won’t fall in love with anyone, and for the most part, won’t care what happens to the human characters. This story is about the robots and their enemies, really.
[Exceptions to the bad acting statement include Charlie Day and Idris Elba, but the two don’t really fit together in a movie like this. The former is funny, but part of a relatively poorly executed subplot, and the latter is wasting his talents doing stuff like PR. Ron Perlman does fine in his role, too.]
That being said, a different set of criteria need to be applied while watching films like PR, because the only question that needs to be asked is: is it fun?
To that, the answer is an emphatic yes. Sheer, stupid fun, but goddamn if it isn’t. If you don’t go “OH SHIT” once or twice over your two hours, I dare say your inner child died a long time ago.