Inter-dimensional breaches housing gargantuan alien Kaiju, Ron Perlman wearing golden shoes, colossal mecha-warriors and Idris Elba with a nosebleed. All of this and more can be found in Guillermo Del Toro’s triumphant monster mash-up, Pacific Rim.
Set in a world initially identical to our own, the opening sequence of Pacific Rim masterfully sets up the epochal shifts to life on planet earth in the wake of behemoth alien hell-beasts arising from the ocean floor, laying waste to all in their path. International tensions are put aside as it becomes apparent that the Kaiju monster attacks are not isolated events. To combat this threat to humanity the Jaeger Programme is born.
This (un)fortunately has nothing to do with getting drunk and hoping it will all go away, and rather more to do with the construction of gigantic robots designed to open a whole lotta whoop-ass on the harbingers of the impending apocalypse.
Pacific Rim kicks into action at the point when Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunman), a Jaeger pilot and the film’s chief protagonist, finds himself disillusioned in the wake of a tragedy on the battlefield. Quitting the scene for a few years, it takes his old Captain, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), to take him out of hermetic retirement and re-join the squad as the Kaiju invasion approaches five minutes to midnight.
The Jaegers require two pilots for operation; the intricacies as to why are neatly skimmed over with charmingly dated science-fiction babble about intense “neurological load” being too much for a single pilot. This results in the best Jaeger teams being those with the closest bond; familial connections seemingly making for the best co-operation as their minds meld together to fight as one cohesive unit.
Lacking any kin to partner with, a large part of Pacific Rim’s narrative arc revolves around Becket’s struggle for compatibility with his partner Mako Mori. While these obviously signposted devices for ‘character development’ often fall short, it really doesn’t seem to matter. Yes – the characters are 2-Dimensional, the dialogue is corny, the imagery is unsettlingly jingoistic and the comic relief is by no means subtle. However, the film is simply too much fun for any of this to detract . If anything, the more clichéd elements of the film add to the fun of the entire affair. Frankly, it’s incredibly impressive that a film with a character called Stacker Pentecost delivering a line about cancelling the apocalypse can be taken seriously at all.
Pacific Rim’s strengths lie firmly in its gargantuan monsters and mecha warriors; Del Toro’s clear affection for the Kaiju and Jaegers that are rendered so impressively and menacingly onto the big screen is evident throughout. The battle sequences are equally as spellbinding as those involved in them. A sense of nostalgic childlike glee swept across the screening room with each and every punch landed, building destroyed and monster downed.
The joys of this film are in no way complex, and it’s all the more refreshing for it. The Hollywood landscape is increasingly muddling its way through forced character development in its heroes; often belying their foundations and very nature, The Dark Knight Rises in particular was guilty of this. Pacific Rim should be applauded for eschewing this tiresome trope of contemporary action blockbusters. Its characters are simple comic book serial stereotypes that operate as the perfect accompaniment to the ball-to-the-wall action.
What Pacific Rim serves up to its audience is a good old-fashioned slice of escapist fun. It’s got kooky oddball scientists, inter-dimensional demons and Ron Perlman’s massive face in it – what more could you possibly want from a summer blockbuster?
Pacific Rim is released in UK cinemas on Friday 12 July.
See the Pacific Rim trailer here: