There’s nothing subtle about a giant robot. From the opening monologue it’s immediately clear that Pacific Rim isn’t a film to do things by halves. The age old story of good versus evil, but retold on a (literally) massive scale.
Or at least, that’s what you might first think: a simple, all out action blockbuster which is all explosions, set pieces and visual effects but no substance. In fact there’s more to the film than meets the eye and, if you suspend disbelief and commit to this post-apocalyptic world, you can be rewarded.
The introduction tells us that an event occurred in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which saw a creature enter the world we know from another dimension and attack San Francisco. Six months later there was another event, this time in Manilla, then more and more until the world decided something had to be done.
The world’s resources were poured into the ‘Jaeger’ program, a plan to fend of giant Godzilla-like monsters with equally massive Transformers-esque robots.
The comparisons flow quick and fast, with the film seemingly drawing from a wide range of sources, but due to fantasy heavyweight Guillermo del Toro at the helm the film manages to toe the line expertly.
The cast is source on big names, with only Idris Elba ringing a bell as military leader Marshall Pentecost, but in general holds together well. One baffling exception is the muddling introduction of Robert Kezinsky and leading man Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Beckett within minutes of each other, as both characters look very alike, but as soon as the action kicks off the divide in the characters seems becomes clear.
The special effects are undeniably first rate, and the visual direction emphasises the scale of both the battles, and the contrast between the mechs and their operators.
Twists and turns make the story a notch above generic, but undeniably an ‘action romp’ at its core. The pace jumps between action and the slight unease of its character-building moments, with the latter always welcome but never quite comfortable. Luckily the finesse and style of the action drives the momentum and builds gradually towards the films’ climax.
Those expecting originality and a mind-bending experience may come away disappointed, but this is an action blockbuster which fires on all cylinders and delivers style and substance.
James Michael Parry