In a summer filled to the brim with sequels, remakes, and sequels to remakes, director Guillermo Del Toro's insanely entertaining Pacific Rim is a real shot of adrenaline. Does it have the best acting you'll see on screen this year? Not really. Does it have the most whip smart dialogue, satisfying character development, or the cleverest plot twists? Uh-uh. But, does it have five thousand foot robot warriors fighting gargantuan lizard-shark-snake hybrid thingees that spit neon-blue electrified acid???
YES, YES, YES, it does!
Fortunately, it has far more going for it than just that, but hey, it's really hard to go wrong with five thousand foot robot warriors fighting gargantuan lizard-shark thingees. These creatures actually have a far more succinct name: Kaiju, which is a Japanese word for strange or enormous beast. It first entered the culture's vernacular in the early 60's, when the Godzilla films and similar characters became all the rage. It's no secret that Guillermo Del Toro has been a huge fan of Godzilla and Kaiju in general all his life, and it's this love and sense of childlike enthusiasm that breathes life into Pacific Rim and separates it from your run of the mill, smash-em up popcorn flicks.
PR takes place in the not too distant future after the world has been overrun by the Kaiju, who continually enter our world through an inter-dimensional worm-hole, decimating cities and turning any corner of the globe into a potential battlefield. In order to fight the menace, ginormous battle-bots are created known as Jaegers, which take two or more pilots to control, and temporarily connect their brains together in a process known as drifting. The bulk of our story unfolds several years into this war, after man has learned to dominate the beasts and the Kaiju are now seen as a manageable threat. Unfortunately for mankind, though, the creatures start evolving into increasingly powerful forms, and all of a sudden it looks like the people of Earth are living on borrowed time.
Visually, Del Toro is just one of the boldest and most distinctive movie makers out there today, and he really pulls out all the stops in Pacific Rim. Everything from the magnificent monster design to the costumes to even basic props somehow bear his stamp. It's all delivered in a one of a kind color palette (mostly dark tones with wild stabs of neon color) and that sets it apart from anything else out there. You know how awesome the HUD display looks inside Iron Man's helmet? Well, there are lengthy sequences where you're basically immersed in environments like that. It's eye candy of the highest order.
We've got to warn you, some of the visuals are straight up disgusting. We're not talking like zombies chowing down on vital organs style disgusting, more like dissecting a huge bug in science class type disgusting, but it's all delivered in a tone that feels light in spite of the occasional grossness and the non-stop destruction.
This is not intellectually driven story telling, but it's lovingly crafted, and way, way, way, way, way (that's a lot of ways) better than a movie of this type needs to be to entertain. So, if you're looking for big-budget entertainment that breaks the morbid doom and gloom feel so many blockbusters have recently had, you'll find PR to be a breath of fresh air. It's not among the best this summer has had to offer, but it's definitely amongst the most fun.
Will you see Pacific Rim?