July 12, 2013
Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham
Guillermo del Toro
Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket
Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost
Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori
Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler
Burn Gorman as Gottlieb
Clifton Collins Jr. as Ops Tendo Choi
Pacific Rim has earned some mixed marks from critics. The Washington Post declared the film “a big, lumbering, rock ’em, sock ’em mash-up of metallic heft and hyperbole.” Cinema Autopsy noted that “the spectacle is distancing and even though it may have been unintentional, there is subtext in Pacific Rim and it is not fun.” Horror site Bloody Disgusting awarded the film a four of five rating and ensured potential viewers the flick’s “a magnificent summer spectacle.” Shocktillyoudrop and Dreadcentral also raved over the film, awarding it nine of ten and five of five ratings respectively. There’s a simple truth in those differing opinions.
Pacific Rim does a lot of things right. Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Clifton Collins, Jr. turn in resplendent performances. Visually the computer work is nothing short of brilliant; these robots appear completely practical and – when on land – the monsters themselves are inexplicably realistic. The action scenes initially prove extremely rewarding, unfolding with reasonable fluidity in grandiose exchanges and quite a few of the set pieces are just shy of genuinely mystifying.
There are a lot of blunders that also surface in the picture. The hiccups are reasonably thick, and at 132 minutes, some of the deficiencies of the production really begin to weigh on the viewer. First off, the story itself is almost insultingly elementary. There’s nothing wrong with a brainless film, but most fans likely expect a few extra dimensions from a Guillermo del Toro feature. In regards to Pacific Rim, it’s giant monsters (Kaiju) versus giant robots (Jaeger), and that’s the extent of it; things don’t stretch too far beyond that and what subtext is present feels utterly irrelevant. It’s not a miserable tale, but it’s a bit on the shallow side. And, those action sequences previously mentioned, well, yes, they’re a blast. They’re a blast the first two or three times you gaze at the spectacle. By the time the finale rolls around we’ve seen these duels so much that the forward momentum has expired and the violent sequences have completely lost any serious impact. Del Toro brings out the big guns far too early and it absolutely murders the hope of escalating anticipation. We’ve seen the peak of the film within the first battle or so, which renders the climax quite anticlimactic. It’s also tough to buy into the chemistry of the cast. From a singular stance there are definitely winners aboard but as a whole unit the synergy is a misfire. These are detrimental issues.
A bigger obstacle however might be the overall impression the film leaves. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and when word begins to spread that Pacific Rim is a particularly long, cheesy affair, it may not bode well for future ticket sales. And the film does, without a doubt, run a bit too long, and it is hands down the cheesiest project Guillermo del Toro has ever stepped up to spearhead. Where a film like Hellboy offers a degree of charm, a film like Pacific Rim offers something to chew on, and it isn’t all too fresh.
Will Pacific Rim emerge the summer blockbuster Warner Brothers is hoping for? Well, that’s hard to say. The audience present – as I screened it – were generally in awe of the production. Of interesting note, a good 90-percent of the crowd looked as though they’d likely invested a staggering number of hours playing Magic the Gathering over the last decade or so. Does that mean much? I think it’s an indicator that there’s most certainly an audience for the film, even if it doesn’t include ilk of my specific nature. Will that audience prove large enough to rake in big bucks? My gut says yes.
Pacific Rim has its moments. It’s a lot of fun in spots, somewhat humorous from time to time and beautifully grandiose. The picture seems an obvious and quite aware nod to classic Godzilla films, and it’s obvious del Toro enjoyed himself while crafting his biggest picture to date. Unfortunately,Pacific Rim is a far cry from the established standard. It lacks the charm of previous efforts, and in no way can be compared to treasures like Pan’s Labyrinth or Hellboy.