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Pacific Rim 3D – film review

July 16, 2013

PACIFIC RIM 3D

A sense of wonder returns with epic monster mash.

Reviewed on Thursday 11th July 2013

pacific rim jaeger

Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro. Story by Travis Beacham. Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Ron Perlman. Running time: 132 mins

In the year 2025, coastal cities which ring the Pacific are under continual attack from gigantic beasts from beneath the sea known as Kaiju. For the past several years it has been the responsibility of a small band of humans piloting giant robots called Jaegers to stave off the attacks. When the powers that be foolishly decide to end the Jaeger program – in favor of fortifying populated areas with giant sea walls, the last remaining Jaeger jockeys embark on one final make-or-break offensive to end the Kaiju attacks once and for all.

A new Guillermo del Toro movie is always something to look forward to and the announcement that Pacific Rim would be del Toto’s next feature came as a great surprise so soon after the last minute studio cancelation of his dream project At The Mountains Of Madness – which itself followed in the wake of his sudden departure from The Hobbit. Hearing about the movie’s premise, I wondered what affinity del Toro might have with giant robots fighting monsters. It seemed an odd choice considering his sensibilities (and the fact that he is as far removed from Michael     Bay as one can possibly be). Well now that it’s here in all its glory – Pacific Rim     does indeed have the look and feel of an authentic del Toro film.

The first thing you will notice about this movie is just how vibrantly colorful everything is. From the cinematography – to the production design – to the impressive visual effects, this has got to be the most color-saturated release of the summer. And as del Toro has demonstrated from the very beginning of his career – he is a talented visionary when it comes to world-building. The environments he creates are very much characters in their own right. His ability in making the most outlandish and fanciful worlds seem absolutely real is just one of his many talents that sets him apart from everybody else working in epic-scale genre films today.

As I mentioned up front – this is very much a del Toro movie – with many little signature flourishes which fans of his work will recognize: the gag with the office     toy during the Hong Kong Kaiju bout is very much in line with his sense of humor. And it wouldn’t be a del Toro film without at least one bug reference and, naturally,     an appearance by his favorite muse Ron Perlman (an actor who has pretty much been a constant in the director’s work since del Toro’s debut with Cronos in 1992).

Of the performances – it is Idris Elba who once again shows why he was the best thing in Prometheus. He is a terrific actor with enormous screen presence and a natural machismo which makes him one of the most appealing actors working in genre film today. And its difficult not to feel a rousing sense of “Hell yeah!” – during his ‘cancelling the apocalypse’ speech. When gigantic monsters emerge from the ocean and begin trashing the world – Idris is absolutely the guy you’d want to have in charge. As far as the leads are concerned, Charlie Hunnam is okay as the hero –       if a little hollywood bland – which thankfully allows his co-star; Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, to shine all the more. She is completely kick-ass and gorgeous and hopefully her prominant role in this movie will open more doors for her in the West. And then of course there’s the everpresent Ron Perlman doing his customary stealing of scenes with his usual ease.

The action scenes are breathtaking to behold (particularly in big screen 3D – perhaps the most impressive use of 3D this year) – and there were moments where I found myself giddy with excitement – as if I were an eleven-year-old seeing the original   Star Wars for the very first time. Del Toro stages his fight scenes with wide-eyed enthusiasm – holding his shots just long enough so we can fully appreciate the scale and beauty of each action set-piece. And the visual effects by Tom Knoll and his team at ILM have never been better. Production designer Carol Spier’s depiction of Hong Kong is visually sumptuous – with its neon-lit, rain-swept, crowded streets recalling no less than the setting of Blade Runner in many respects. And it is so refreshing to see a metropolis outside of the US play host to untold destruction for     a change. The stirring music score by Ramin Djawadi is very reminiscent of the unashamedly operatic film music of the late, great Basil Poledouris – which can     never be a bad thing in my book.

This would have been my first five star rating for a movie this summer – if not for the painfully fake aussie accents of Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky (playing father and son Jaeger pilots Herc and Chuck Hanson). Despite being a distraction to anyone familiar with this particular accent – naturally, it won’t be an issue with everyone else. But seriously, were there no authentic Australian actors available to play these roles?

Despite this minor quibble, it is heartening to see epic genre cinema finally regain a sense of wonder – something not seen in a very long time. And, unlike the tiresome tide of negativity and bleakness which seems to have pervaded popular culture of     late – Pacific Rim is refreshingly positive in its outlook and has much to say (without being heavy-handed) – about the importance of having compassion for others and expressing acceptance of the diverse cultures and peoples who make up this world. In summing up – it would be fair to say – del Toro’s affectionate nod to the Japanese monster movies of his youth is without a doubt the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year so far.

4.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4  – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed in Xtreme Screen 3D at Hoyts Norwood Cinemas, Adelaide, July 11th 2013.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.

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6 Comments
  1. Great review. 🙂 Um… Those weren’t Australian accents?? Lol. I suck with accents!

    • gregory moss permalink

      Yeah, it was pretty bad. But the Australian accent is notoriously difficult to do well. The best example of a good one by a non-aussie actor would have to be Robert Downey Jr in Natural Born Killers. Downey absolutely nailed it in that – although he was definitely leaning more towards caricature. Not everyone here speaks with as broad an accent as that. It really depends which part of the country you’re from. Here in South Australia, for example, it has been said by our eastern state cousins, that we speak with a pronounced Englishness in our accent. I guess Downey’s aussie accent in Killers would be the equivalent of say – a southern accent in the states – or the Queensland accent here. Perhaps Max Martini should take a few pointers from Downey Jr – before he appears in the Pacific Rim sequel?

      • Guess I better actually watch Natural Born Killers someday, then? 😉 I suck so much with accents that I can’t even tell when someone is putting on a fake American one in a movie.

      • NBK isn’t a particularly great film – but Downey Jr makes it worth watching. 🙂

  2. Xenolicker permalink

    Thanks for the review, i’m looking forward to seeing this! Let’s just hope that the blu-ray 3D edition is a bit more serious. To me, there seems to be something fundamentaly wrong with a “PG13” rated del Toro movie…

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