We live in a cinematic climate where everyone from top to bottom is trying to capture some form of the past. It’s partly the reason the film industry is struggling and artistically becoming bankrupt, however that is a topic for another day. We are trying to recapture, and repackage our youth. The big guns in Hollywood are doing it, the little guys with HD consumer cameras in their hands are doing it. We have an obsession to recreate the Reagan-era theater experience, but the popcorn is never flavored right. Hollywood, ala Transformers and such, makes it’s attempts with labels, logos, NAMES. That’s the problem really, you can call it “Transformers” or “Total Recall” all you want, you can plaster the nostalgic logo all over the posters and scream the title from the mountaintops, but in the end it doesn’t feel the same. More often than not it comes off as depressing instead of capturing that “FEEL” that it aims for and we crave. That’s because that “FEEL” isn’t in the logo, and it honestly can’t be found in low-budget “supposed to be awful” parodies of 80’s mainstream entertainment. It has to be in the DNA of the movie and filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro know how to work that double helix magic and bring it out, not with logos and fan service, but with TONE and WRITING and CONCEPT.
Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s Robots vs. Monster action homage to an eclectic handful of genres from cinemas past, is without a doubt a complete triumph for its intended goal. Oh, and most delightful of all, it’s a completely NEW property, a homage to the Godzilla (kaiju) and Robot movies of 30 or more years ago.
For a synopsis and cast list here’s a direct link to the IMDB page.
The “triumph” aspect stems from the tone and the characters, surprisingly more so than the spectacular action scenes. Del Toro gives us a story that revolves around an ensemble cast doing their best to have a good time. Ron Perlman in a cameo role chews up the scenery as a comic relief along side Charlie Day’s Kaiju obsessed scientist. Idris Elba steals the show as the heavy, and the rest of the cast pulls us into the film in an almost effortless, sometimes pleasantly cheesy, effort. The great thing about the movie is, unlike say Bay’s Transformers films, this isn’t a red, white, and blue America-to-the-rescue patriot-fest. This film feels all-inclusive. The world is facing a giant threat and we all come together equally to stop it. This is especially evident because of the process needed to control the giant monster crushing robots, it’s called “drifting” (not the Tokyo kind) and its when two people lock minds to control the robots because a single human mind can’t do it by itself. This leads us through the emotional through line of the film and is the plot device, which gives us both a male and female hero at the end of the day.
While there is an emotional through line, let’s say this, the film has a light touch. Light touch? Yes, it is very odd to say a film about giant, skyscraper sized monsters and robots fighting has a light touch, but in the “tone” department that is exactly what Del Toro is Aiming for. The movie is meant to be enjoyed, to be savored by those of use who grew up watching Godzilla movies and smashing robot toys together out of pure glee. In other reviews and discussions I’ve seen Jurassic Park mentioned quite a few times, because it’s a movie that made this current generation of almost-30-somethings walk out of a theater with their eyes twinkling with the glee of imagination (this reviewer included.) Pacific Rim, much like the 20-year old Jurassic Park, has the potential to do just that for a new generation of kids. That’s a bold statement to make in a cinematic climate where huge CGI action films are, sadly, the standard. However, Del Toro knows the genres he’s trying to capture, and he captures them right.
Pacific Rim is highly recommended. Furthermore, IMAX might actually be worth the ticket price for this one, but avoid the 3D. Always avoid the 3D.
Thanks for reading!
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