Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pacific Rim Review

You voted for it, so here it is, my review for Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim is everything you could ever want in a fun summer flick. Gigantic robots fighting huge monsters, that is exactly what Pacific Rim promises and that is exactly what you get.

In 2013 giant monsters named Kaiju (Japanese for strange or large beast) come from under the ocean, and in response, mankind builds giant robots named Jaegers (German for hunter) to battle them. With a film about extraterrestrial (or extradimensional in this case) beans, one would expect to see mankind's early days of battling the great beasts and building robots to fight them. However, director, Guillermo del Toro, takes the Star Wars approach and throws the audience right into the action with a quick recap of how the war started and then the audience gets to see the giant mecha throwdown with the Kaiju. After that, something happens which sets up what will happen during the rest of the movie and the story turns out to be rather interesting. Any fan of robots or mecha, or the Kaiju genre needs to watch Pacific Rim. It is a fanboy film if there ever was one. Guillermo del Toro did not try to appeal to the masses, which is why it failed at the domestic box office, like the Transformers movies, which I enjoyed more than most. He makes the film for fans of Japanese anime, Kaiju, and mecha, which is exactly why I enjoyed Pacific Rim so much. While any fan of action owes it to themselve to watch Pacific Rim, the film is heavily influenced by anime and Japanese monster flicks. Even though many parts of Pacific Rim are reminiscent of various anime mecha series (there is a Japanese chick with anime blue hair highlights), the most clearly noticeable influence has to be Neon Genesis Evangelion. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorite television series, and Pacific Rim takes many cues from the series, including the overall concept, mecha design, and weapon design. The biggest difference is that NGE is about mentally disturbed teenagers and NGE is a lot darker and more complex than Pacific Rim. If you like NGE, watch Pacific Rim, if you like Pacific Rim, you might want to give NGE a try, providing you do not mind a confusing mindfreak of an ending and dark themes. To go along with this Pacific Rim review, I will be posting my review of Neon Genesis Evangelion tomorrow.

On a side note, there are two ways anime will likely react to Pacific Rim.
1: It is an awesome live-action homage to the mecha genre!
2: It is an unoriginal rip-off of the mecha genre!
My reaction was the first one, since seeing anime in live-action was too cool.

My main problems with the film are that some of the characters are overly cartoony and the movie contains some logical flaws like *Spoiler* majorly overpowered sword *End Spoiler* but other than that, Pacific Rim is great. Also, why is there a environmentalist message in my epic robot movie? It was brief but completely out of place and unnecessary.

On another geeky sidenote, Ellen McLain voices the Gipsy Danger's AI, and if you played the fantastic Portal video game series, you may recognize her as the voice the crazy AI GLaDOS. Guillermo del Toro is a big fan of the video game and wanted to include her voice in the film, which I have to give del Toro some major geek points for that.

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Mecha, Kaiju,
Release Date: July 12, 2013
Running Time: 132 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Epically awesome robot vs. monster battles, Heavily anime inspired, Tons of fun, Idris Elba is freaking epic, Rinko Kikuchi gives a strong performance, Gets right to the action, Geekfest of nerdy awesomeness, Impressive special effects and creature design, Fantastic soundtrack, GLaDOS!,

The Bad: A few small plot holes, Overly cartoony characters, Darkness obscures some action scenes and effects,

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
In 2013, human cities come under attack by the Kaijus colossal beasts who come through an interdimensional portal on the Pacific Ocean floor. To combat them, the Pacific Rim nations build the Jaegers: equally colossal humanoid warmachines. Each Jaeger is piloted by two people whose brains are linked to share the overwhelming mental load of operating the machine. The Jaegers are initially effective, but many are destroyed as the Kaijus grow more powerful and their attacks more frequent. In 2025, the involved governments deem the Jaeger program unviable, and discontinue it in favor of building massive coastal walls to protect humanity from the Kaijus. The four remaining Jaegers are redeployed to Hong Kong to defend the coast until the wall's completion. Jaeger commander Stacker Pentecost (Elba) devises a plan to end the war by destroying the portal with a thermonuclear bomb.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 7.0/10- Despite the premise of Pacific Rim having logical errors and a few plot holes, the movie manages maintain perfect pacing throughout. For a live-action English speaking film, Pacific Rim is rather original. Surprisingly, the characters are actually likable, particularly, the Japanese girl, Mako Mori, and Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost. The movie may have been better if Raleigh was not the main character and instead replace him with Mako and Stacker. However, Raleigh was a solid leading character in his own right. The two scientist guys were overused and sometimes felt unnecessary, and there was one clichéd bully character, who was poorly developed.
Some people have complained that the science used in Pacific Rim was confusing and difficult to grasp, like why two people have to pilot a Jaeger, but I never found the concepts presented difficult to understand, and easily accepted them as standard sci-fi fare. While the story is there to deliver the big robot vs. monster action, Pacific Rim brings up some intriguing science fiction ideas as well.

*Spoiler* Even though the movies does have some romantic tension, I was glad to see that the film did not end with a clichéd romance just because they are the two leads. How often does it actually happen that the leads do not kiss throughout the entire film? *End Spoiler*

Action: 9.7/10- Ginormous Jaeger bashing huge Kaiju is just as awesome as it sounds. Unfortunately, a few of the actions are obscured by darkness or weather, which makes seeing what is happening difficult at times. However, the choreography and the CGI battles are impressive. Considering that most CGIed fight scenes usually end up being dull and lifeless, Pacific Rim manages to give the Jaeger mechs a real sense of weight and heft, which makes the battles feel more realistic.
My question is why do all of the action scenes have to take place at night? The brief news footage of one in Australia was in the day, therefore the Kaiju do not have to attack at night. The second big battle was probably aided by the fact that it was at night since you could see of the cool neon lights, but the other ones would have been better in daylight.

Acting: 7.4/10- Surprisingly, Pacific Rim has several strong performances. Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket is decent, but never really owns the role with an American that he struggles to maintain. As expected, Idris Elba owns every scene he is in. In terms of epicness, there are few equals that match Elba. Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori is one of the best parts of the film. Aside from giving a mostly strong performance, her character's backstory is probably the most interesting. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman play the two scientists and they are occasionally fun to watch, but are also distracting at times. Ron Perlman has a small part, but he is fun and over-the-top. The rest of the cast is fine.

Special effects: 9.7/10- The Jaegers are highly detailed and contain well developed designs, and the effects for them are mighty impressive. The Kaiju are also designed well. However, much of the CGI is obscured due to dark lighting, which is a real shame.

Soundtrack: 9.7/10- While watching the film, I noticed that the soundtrack reminded me a lot of the score from the first Iron Man film, which is one of my favorites, and sure enough Ramin Djawadi composed the score for both films. His score really gets you pumped and into the action. Actually, the track posted below helped me study for my math exam last semester, which I aced.

Comedy: 7.2/10- Some humor worked, other parts did not. Overall, the humor was a mixed bag.

Would I Watch This Again: Yes, Pacific Rim is too much fun not to watch again.

Overall: 8.2/10- Overall, Pacific Rim knows exactly what it is, a ridiculously fun action packed summer popcorn flick, and while some audiences may not find the film particularly interesting, fans of action, anime, sci-fi, mecha, and Kaiju will find a ton to enjoy about Pacific Rim.

Closing comments: While Pacific Rim might not be a smart or deep action movie like Iron Man 3 and it certainly has its flaws, Guillermo del Toro knows his audience and delivers exactly what we wanted to see. If, however, you are not a part of his intended audience, you will likely find it dumb.

Recommended for: Sci-fi fans, Action fans, Anime fans, Kaiju fans, Mecha fans,

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  1. Great review!! :) I had seen a lot of reviews on tumblr(a lot of them from girls) who really liked the film and thought it did a good job and hearing about it really made me want to see it. :) Glad to hear it's a good film(and yay for no cliche romance in the film!) :D Hopefully I can watch it soon :).

    1. Thanks! I knew you would be particularly interested in the movie since it does not have the cliched romance and that it is a generally fun movie. :) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


  2. The fact that it was too reminiscent of Neon Genesis Evangelion (one of my favorites too) was one thing that killed it for me. Hunnam's hit-and-miss American accent was another. The comic scientists was the third.

    I wasn't impressed w/Pacific Rim and felt very disappointed w/it.

    1. That makes sense. You can either take it as a ripoff or a homage of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and neither view is wrong. By the way, have you seen the Rebuild of Evangelion movies? Even though they are not as good as the series due to the shorter time frame, they are a must watch for fans of the series.


  3. I had no idea how much anime influenced this film! Wow! I enjoyed this film so much; I think because I expected it to be an empty-all-flash-and-no-heart-action summer flick with no depth. I really loved how the film opened up, as it felt realistic to me. I LOVED that there was no romance/kissing, it was a refreshing change to have the two leads developed over companionship/friendship/emotionally supporting each other instead of the overused and over sexaulized route of romantic attraction. I enjoyed all the characters, even though the one scientist bordered on annoying. I didn't find the science of Jaegers to be hard to understand at all. The CGI was fantastic--I didn't even think till near the end that the Jaegers weren't actually real! :P THE MUSIC IS AWESOME; it also reminded me of Iron Man which made me love the film even more! To bring this to a conclusion (LOL Can you tell I really liked this movie or what?!) I really really liked this movie--it was a lot of fun with just enough heart that didn't leave me feeling empty at the end. :P (I actually just added this one to my film collection as it was on sale on Amazon while I was birthday shopping for my mom so I got it! I can't wait to rewatch it soon!)


    1. Thanks for the long comment Jamie! Yep, Pacific Rim is a giant homage to anime, specifically Neon Genesis Evangelion. :) That is what I expected too from the movie and it was so much better than that! I was almost shocked that there was no romance or kissing at the end of the movie! And it was a great change of pace. Good, I am glad that you also did not find the science confusing. I still do not understand why so many did though. The music was EPIC! Cool, I don't think I will be buying the movie, but I would like to watch it again sometime.


  4. I just never bought the premise. Why the giant robots, nothing a F22 could not handle in IMHO. I loved the effects and thought the story was good.

    1. Good point. The movie really did require a Suspense of Disbelief to buy the premise.


    2. Prompted by the good review and comments I re-watched it yesterday with a more accepting mind. I think it got another star with this attitude. So I am now more in line with the likers.

  5. Good review James.

    As you know, I loved Pacific Rim and it ended up being in my Top 5 for last was just so damn fun and it transfers well to the living room (surprisingly).

    That being said, I found it really grew on me over time and my second viewing was where I really discovered that I loved it rather than just really liked it.

    It seems like in the comments too many people are thinking too hard about the whole premise...It's certainly a movie that in no way shape or form is plausible. But thats what makes it fun.

    Once again, great review!

    1. Thanks Jordan.

      Pacific Rim currently ranks 6th on my list of my favorite movies from 2013, and it was certainly awesome.

      I need to watch it again, and I am sure that I will enjoy even more.

      Exactly! People are over thinking the premise. It's sci-fi, therefore not real!


  6. When I saw this trailer I thought, "Not ANOTHER one!" But then I watched it and absolutely LOVED IT! I've never seen any anime movies, but Pacific Rim was awesome. The characters were great. My favorite scene was probably when Mako was chasing the rabbit after the neural link.

    And to go along with what Jordan said, it drives me crazy when people tear apart the plots of sci-fi/fantasy movies. It's all fake! Just take the movie for what it is!

    1. Haha, that is kind of what I thought too when I saw the trailer! You might want to watch some anime sometime. There is a lot of great series and movies out there. That was one of my favorite scenes as well. Mako was such a great character. I wish she was the star of the movie!


  7. Very happy to read that you enjoyed this, I loved it as you could tell from my review.

  8. Hmmmm.... I think the Honest Trailer guys said it well: it's either the dumbest awesome movie or the awesomest dumb movie ever. And I'd have to say it was just.... dumb.

    And I realize that I you can't be too critical of a sci-fi action flick. The movie had it's cool moments. And i can suspend my belief (I love the Avengers) but this one just had too many things. From the inconsistent ocean depth and water pressure to some of the very confusing robot mechanics to the cardboard characters, especially Mako who had zero development IMO (not sure what backstory you were referring to. Maybe where Elba's Jaeger saves her?). Oh, and a combat pilot who forgets he has a freaking sword, that is more effective than guns against these monsters, until the convenient moment the plot calls for it. Several people shushed my friends when they started laughing in the theater. :)

    So while I may seen like a curmudgeon who can't take a movie for what it is, I do like my movies to be somewhat smart and character driven, even if they are summer action flicks. :)

    I will give the movie some points for some slick CGI and camera shots and a pretty awesome score, but I'd have to say it felt like a somewhat less destructive Transformers movie.

    Then again I might just not be Del Toro's target audience. ;)

    Just my take.

    Thanks for the review!

    PS: Oh. Why spend billions and billions of dollars and waste hours of manual labor on giant robots when instead you could just set up massive canons on the wall that fire the same plasma bolts as the Jaegers and then set said canons to automatically fire when a Kaiju breached the surface? Hmmmmm.

    Okay, I'm done now. :)

    1. You have some valid points, but I can put aside some of those plot holes just like I can forget that the giant microwave generator thing at the end of Batman Begins would actually kill everyone around it (not nearly as bad as some of Pacific Rim's problems, but it is first thing that came to mind). But thanks for the long comment!



One rule: No strong profanity. If you want to link to one of your posts, please do; I am always interested in other reviews and such.

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