Pacific Rim is a mecha dream come true. In a world where the Kaiju, an alien race who emerges from the sea, attacks major cities in an attempt to take over Earth, the humans inhabiting it retaliate by building robots called Jaegers. Jaegers are operated by two human pilots who use a technique called drifting to share their memories with one another and become compatible with the machine they’re fighting in. Throw in a strong female character, Mako, who has spent her life resenting Kaiju and is waiting for her chance to pilot her own Jaeger, a mismatched team of quirky, yet lovable scientists (played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman), a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother in battle against a category 4 Kaiju named Knifehead, and Idris Elba, the Marshall who is determined to keep the Jaeger program alive even after his funding is cut. (How could anyone not get chills when they hear Idris Elba exclaim, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”) It would also be impossible not to mention Ron Perlman’s kooky character, an outrageous and cartoonish black market dealer of Kaiju parts who wears gold metal toed shoes and dark round glasses. While some of the characters may seem cliched, there is enough heart behind their actions to justify their motivations and transform them into memorable characters. Pacific Rim is a film about war, but instead of people vs. people, the people have all banded together whether they’ve helped build walls, machines, or technology, in an epic robots vs. aliens battle.
Director and co-screenwriter (with Travis Beacham), Guillermo del Toro’s love of all things Japanese really shines through in the film. The Kaiju and the Jaegers are both enormous in size, towering over any skyscraper, and the majority of the film’s footage is devoted to their larger than life battles. The film utilizes special effects galore to show the destruction of coastal cities in the Pacific, create unique looking sea monsters and their portal to Earth, and of course Earth’s final hope at salvation, the Jaegers. Gipsy is the beautifully crafted analog Jaeger depicted on all of the posters. She enters battles by being flown in by a slew of helicopters who then release her from the sky, submerging her into the Pacific Ocean with a powerful splash. Throughout the film, she feels very humanized from the moment she smashes her first into her palm before battle until her final run in with the Kaiju. Del Toro also included a love story that is very shoujo in nature, which allows the viewer to focus their attention on Earth’s impending doom and of course, it’s beautiful creatures.
Especially enjoyable are the brilliant pops of color and neons used throughout the film. It feels like a Daft Punk video, meets retro color blocked comics, with a futuristic twist. In addition to the incredible aesthetics, anyone who’s ever played Portal will also be pleased to hear GLaDOS’ soothing robotic voice inform the Marshall of the Jaeger’s statuses throughout the film. It’s difficult to put my love of Pacific Rim into words, but I will say that it renewed my faith in movies this year. After seeing (and strongly disliking) Man of Steel and World War Z, I feared that I was becoming too critical, but Pacific Rim proved that my nitpicking is valid and thankfully, I am not becoming a miserable pessimist. Guillermo del Toro created an instant classic and a welcome addition to the mecha vs. monsters genre. This film is way more than fan service. I had watched the Pacific Rim trailer on repeat since the day it was released, so I knew I was going to enjoy the film, I just hadn’t known I would love it this much. Immediately upon its ending I found myself ready and eager to watch it again. If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, I strongly suggest sprinting to the nearest movie theater and getting comfortable for the next couple of hours. It is worth it to see the film on the big screen. Do not wait until it’s on blu-ray or demand!
And just for good measure, here’s a photo of Charlie Day next to a Kaiju’s secondary brain.