Where some credits are due, Pacific Rim clearly deserves some dearth of recognition for being a non-sequel, non-remake, non-adaptation class of work that’s somewhat rare in Hollywoodland today. That somebody actually bothered to sit down and write a screenplay that’s not a regurgitation of something else, no matter how banal the writing is, rather than waiting for a script to come out of the churning machine. All effort is appreciated here – Guillermo Del Toro, arguably a top-billing 21st century mastercraftsman of creature features and a semi-legendary cinematic fabulist, throw all his abilities on the screen – and it shows. Pacific Rim is a deliriously gleeful, guilt-free piece of pop-culture entertainment that pays a rather sincere nod to the Japanese mecha movies of Saturday serial epoch, despite of all the clashing and banging and the pugilistic nonsense. It is, in essence, a Power Rangers episode with a mega-million budget, better special effects and better fight sequences. Here, the Mexican filmmaker doesn’t so much dumb down as merely indulging in his ten-year old self, glorifying the monsters-vs-robots playground that’s ubiquitous to many childhoods of the not-so-distant past.
And that’s not a bad thing – I’d rather watch this over Michael Bay’s clunky Transformers any day, if there wasn’t any choice left. But despite of Del Toro’s infectious effort, we’re left to weigh the fact that Pacific Rim feels the output of an executive meeting between the producers of Transformers and Godzilla. Except it’s 2013, so we expect greater scope, global-scale destruction and even more annihilation of buildings. I bet Hollywood now patents CGI Building Destruction Software Mk. III. The film zips from Alaska, Australia, Manila, Hong Kong and to the bowels of Pacific with barely any bloodshed shown (it’s Rated PG y’all, so no haemoglobins) but crumbling buildings can be the metaphor of that. Go ask Zack Snyder, who did it with Man of Steel.
The screenplay here often feels like a whackjob, populating this world with action movie archetypes – Charlie Hunnam’s ex-pilot called in for another redemption story, Rinko Kikuchi’s faux-feminist novice harbouring a tragic past (seen in rather unelaborate flashbacks), Idris Elba’s officer-in-command with a massive scowl and a penchant of giving blustery pre-war speeches, and a pair of perpetually bickering scientists, played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, who both splutter wishy-washy techo-babble bullshit that barely makes any sense in a corporeal world. And in between these characters lie an enormous flaw in its premise, despite being illustrated concisely and admittedly wonderfully in a prologue montage, the existence of the robots the humans call “Jaeger”. We’re told an extra-dimensional rift appeared in the Pacific Ocean, vomiting ugly monsters with a goal of destroying Earth, and humans built equally-sized robots to battle them. That’s very well – but wouldn’t you think for one minute it might be better to build even bigger robots to fight and defeat monsters easily? And in Pacific Rim‘s logic, robots are controlled by two co-pilots who share the logistical load of operating the machines – all brain science, using one hemisphere of the brain has apparently neurological consequences – what about remote controls? Haven’t human beings already invented that? But no – if they did that, we won’t be seeing Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in super-cool looking suits, would we?[separator type=”space”] DIRECTOR: Guillermo Del Toro | CAST : Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day | SCREENPLAY: Travis Beacham, Guillermo Del Toro | PRODUCER: Warner Bros. Pictures | RUNNING-TIME: 131 mins | GENRE: Action/Adventure | COUNTRY: USA