I love Guillermo del Toro and have done for a long time. Whether he is directing big-budget blockbusters or small low-key films in his native language, the man has been able to capture my imagination and fill me with immense joy like no one else. After being down in the gutter after failing in his lengthy attempt to get At the Mountain of Madness off the ground, Guillermo quickly signed on to Pacific Rim. The film, a big-budget blockbuster from an original script, dropped from out of left-field and instantly the film community was excited for del Toro’s biggest playground yet.
Pacific Rim has a rich and dense universe, but the basic plot goes something like this – set in the near future, the world is constantly threatened by the frequent emergence of monsters called Kaiju, which are coming from deep beneath the Pacific ocean. The world’s leaders gather and create the Jaeger program, which puts two like-minded individuals into a giant robot to fight these beasts. The war is tough though and the Jaeger program is stopped because it is no longer effective against the increasingly bigger Kaiju. Now the last of the Jaegers form a resistance and will stop at nothing to kill every single monster that threatens man-kind.
Del Toro makes his intentions clear from the very beginning by opening the film with dictionary definitions for the Kaiju and the Jaeger. Just watching this appear on the screen you instantaneously know this film wants nothing more than to be fun and should not be taken seriously. This is followed by a wonderfully edited opening sequence, in which del Toro perfectly introduces the world and the mythologies that set-up the next 2 hours. The genius is that everything you need to know about Pacific Rim happens before the titles appear on screen, through del Toro’s larger than life direction he gets you in the mood with ease and announces his intention to put a big grin on your face.
Because everything in Pacific Rim is crafted purposely to please, there are elements that will leave many cold. The treatment of characters is perhaps the biggest issue people will take, because characters are not characters, but rather caricatures of the military archetype. Each actor’s goal is to deliver a hammy performance that encapsulates the wonderfully cheesy dialogue. These are not normally compliments, but in the world of Pacific Rim they are. Every single character is likable because del Toro wants all of humanity to be lovable and relate-able, there are no real human villains, just a bunch of guys (and a girl) trying their darnedest to save the Earth in the most ridiculously awesome way possible. The cast deliver this with boundless energy, with Charlie Day, Burn Gorman and Ron Perlman burning the brightest and all likely to become cult favourites.
I’ve always respected Del Toro’s use of special effects (aside from baby Hellboy), because he has consistently turned out great special effects driven scenes. In my mind there aren’t many that are better at working with special effects. Del Toro lives so far in his own imagination that directing a world for special effects seems to come naturally for him. Pacific Rim is no exception and the epic beat downs across the globe are staged to perfection. The Hong Kong battle stands out as the best, drenched in bright neon lights and splattered with rain, the scene looks fantastic in 3D and explodes from the screen and glorious detail. It is hard to hold back the cheers as Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka go about their business taking on the nastiest monsters imaginable.
In summary, aside from a couple of plot hiccups and poorly edited opening smack down, Pacific Rim is by far the best time you’ll have in cinemas in 2013. The cast nail their roles, providing cinema-goers with plenty of laughs and smiles. Guillermo del Toro’s direction is typically brilliant, yet again showing great range bouncing from spectacular action to hilarious comedic moments. Trevor Beacham’s script is deep in mythology and deliciously hammy in dialogue, laying down groundwork that should grow into a very rich and fruitful universe. Ramin Djawadi’s work with the score and theme is also worth a mention and will no doubt be heard on ringtones all over the world.
Snobby cinephiles will no doubt look down on Pacific Rim because it is hokey, but through del Toro’s want to make something filled with wonder emerges the most perfect blockbuster in a long long time.