Pacific Rim plays like a live-action version of a Japanese anime. With epic battles between gigantic, alien monsters and equally imposing mecha operated by humans, director Guillermo del Toro manages to successfully create every guy’s childhood fantasy.
Written by del Toro and Travis Beacham, the movie stars Charlie Hunnam, popular for his role in Sons of Anarchy, as the narrator and lead protagonist, and alongside him is Japanese actress and Academy Award nominee, Rinko Kikuchi. Together, with a supporting cast that includes the likes of Idris Elba, the fearless leader of Jaeger pilots, Ron Perlman, a black market, ‘monster parts’ dealer, and Charlie Day, a wacky scientist, they strive to defend the world against CGI-animated, menacing aliens called the Kaiju, using enormous robots, called Jaegers. The robots are operated by two pilots working in tandem as the last line of defense for a desperate human race.
The breadth of del Toro’s imagination is best at work in the battle scene between the Jaegers and the Kaiju. Battles in the ocean, on the shore and in metropolitan cities are filmed and displayed with such cinematic perfection that they leave the audiences hypnotised. The only downside is the excessive rain that obscures what is perhaps the best part of the movie — the no-holds-barred fighting.
In order to justify the $190 million budget of the movie, and to appeal to a wider, non-anime or robot-loving audience, del Toro has tried to foray into the psyche of the protagonists to give them more flesh and blood. This is, however, where the movie flounders. It tends to drag at times, especially when the director tries to establish the relationship between Raliegh and Mako. The typical boy-meets-girl story seems forced and unnecessary and what’s worse, remains inconclusive as to whether they are merely friends or something more.
The attempt to inject mild humour into the movie, in the form of comic relief, also falls flat. Although well-intended, the dialogue and scenes come off as forced and trite. If nothing, it just makes del Toro appear a bit desperate. Also, some of the scenes in this sci-fi fantasy serve no real purpose other than padding out the length of a film, and could have easily been removed in editing. But if you are a fan of gigantic, metal giants, then the long, drawn-out action sequences are sure to keep you awake and attentive during the entire course of the movie.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 8th, 2013.