Every year American Production houses spend millions of dollars and make billions from disaster films that are low on IQ and huge on VQ – Visual Quotient. Del Toro’s Pacific Rim is a bit of an exception because it’s not all brawn. Plus, it’s such a perfectly made Disaster film that it would give disaster purists orgasms! Gigantic robots collide against even more gigantic monsters to make for a perfect popcorn-guzzling entertainer.
So what’s it about?
We are thrown back to the future where monstorous sea creatures, Kaijus( Japanese for strange creatures), rise from the bottom of the ocean. They are not from this world and come through a crevasse on the floor of the Pacific Rim ( thus the name). They want to inhabit the earth and ofcourse don’t want to share it!
An epic war begins, as you are quickly shown a glimpse of the battles happening across the globe. Mankind, not to go down easily, create mechanized marvels called “Jaeger” (huge man-powered robots!) to fight these Kaijus. The fight goes on for years, but Kaijus are countless and continuous evolving, so the Jaegers are on the verge of defeat. Brain stroke, their only chance is to destroy the portal through which the Kaijus are entering our dimension. Jaeger forces turn to 2 former pilots (clichéd), Raliegh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). They team up to drive an old Jaeger – Gipsy running on nuclear power. Yes, the Amercians turn to Old Stuff when all things New fail ( Battleship or Real Steel). Accompanied by Stacker and Yancy in another Jaeger, they set out to bomb the portal. Will they succeed in their mission? Well, for that you would have to get into the Jaeger’s driving seat!
Scale. This movie is as humoungous as the vision of it’s brilliant director Del Toro. Though he has made some amazing monster movies in the past ( Pans Labyrinth / Hellboy) this one beats them in terms of pure visual delight. The action sequences are so epic, that you can feel every punch, kick, fall, spring. Wayne Barlowe, the world-renowned science fiction and fantasy author and artist, makes these amazing creatures and robots come to life and you are left spell bound. Barlowe’s exceptional skill meets Del Toro’s vision to create something extraordinary. And after a long time we have a film that does justice to the 3-D. You might just duck when a Jaeger hits a Kaiju with a ship!
What doesn’t work ..
The story is a cliché in itself. What can you do when there are countless movies about aliens and monsters coming out every year. The plotline is simplistic, the mission is clear and the path is clichéd. While the influences from the likes of Independence day are clear, it’s the predictable climax that might leave you unsatisfied.
While all the visual gimmickry works, the actors fail. Everyone is stone faced, and the character definitions are shallow. But that you can come to expect of a disaster film. The lack of time and effort to build characters, even the protagonists, hurts the film because you really don’t make that connection with them. While they are neurologically connected to the Jaegers, you are disconnected from them! Plus, there are no light moments in the film to distract from the underlining tension. A few quirky moments like Hellboy might have helped.
To see or not to see?
For all it’s faults - simplistic storyline, clichéd plot and uni-dimensional characters, this is one summer blockbuster you cannot afford to miss! Del Toro’s epic vision just sucks you in and the 3-D leaves a lasting impression. In terms of pure entertainment, this disaster movie strikes gold! So run to a theater near you ( preferably I-Max 3-D) and watch this Big Fat American Disaster Film!
A hopeless FILMantic, a sit-down comic, a cereal killer, chicken lover, who Copys for a living, really!
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