Pacific Rim: A riotous but shallow sci-fi romp
- Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture
Transformers meets Godzilla in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim – a shallow sci-fi romp that boasts titanic action scenes on a whole new scale, but not a lot else.
Earth is being invaded by giant creatures called Kaiju, who emerge through a pathway to another world located on the floor of the Pacific.
As the film’s slogan states, “To fight monsters we created monsters” – man-made robots manned by human “pilots” who combine their cognitive functions and share one mind to control their “Jaegers”.
Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is a retired pilot who lost his brother in battle.
Five years on, when our story begins, he is asked to return by the head of the Jaeger Program, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba).
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Pentecost only has four war machines left and he is planning a final die-or-die assault – destroying the breach in the Pacific with a nuclear bomb.
The build-up to the large-scale battles is exciting – the anticipation grows as the human weapons march out to sea to face increasingly large and dangerous aliens – and the brutal, visually stunning showdowns do not disappoint.
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However, the film is heavily reliant on those sequences and there is little substance in the intervening periods.
That is highlighted by two irritating scientists, bickering, geeky boffins played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, who are seemingly included to provide comic relief.
It is certainly not needed and their inclusion is about as valuable as Jar Jar Binks’s contribution to Star Wars Episode 1.
The internal logic also falls apart in the closing stages. Since pilots share one mind, it is crucial that they are mentally compatible, and we witness the selection process.
That element is key to the relationships in the film – including the burgeoning romantic one between Becket and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), whose instant chemistry makes them the ideal team, despite Pentecost’s misgivings.
Yet in the closing stages, one of the pilots is injured and another man bravely steps into his place at the last moment, with only a brief nod to the much-mentioned compatibility issue.
Add that to a classically clichéd ending and Pacific Rim is a typical, big-budget 3D blockbuster which appeals to the eyes but does little for the brain.
It is certainly great fun to watch a colossal robot hit a gigantic monster over the head with a cargo ship, but it is unlikely that anyone will be talking about Pacific Rim in years to come.
Running time: 131 minutes