Pacific Rim packs some punch

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Plot-wise, the film is simple and straightforward: humanity is under attack by giant monsters, or Kaiju, rising from the ocean. Jaegers, giant robots piloted by two humans, are built to combat the seemingly mindless Kaiju. Del Toro, known for his character design, once again crafts unique and memorable robots and monsters. Pacific Rim is at its best when it focuses on this fight between robots and monsters.

The human aspect, however, feels like an afterthought and is neglected throughout much of the movie.  The characters, for the most part, are cliches, and the performances add little depth to what little is in the script. Charlie Hunam is charming enough as Raleigh Becket, a former Jaeger pilot. On the other hand, Rinko Kikuchi delivers a rather stiff performance as Mori, a novice Jaeger pilot and Becket’s love interest. The lack of depth to both characters as well as a lack of chemistry does nothing to develop the romance between the two. As a result, the romantic climax between them feels undeserved.

Charlie Day delivers a very humorous performance as rocker-rebel scientist Dr. Newtwon Geizler, but manages to ground his character and prevent him from being too ridiculous to believe. However, Burn Gorman’s performance as Geizler’s colleague, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, is such a caricature that it runs the risk of being outright annoying.  Ron Perlman appears halfway through the movie as Hannibal Chau. Although he doesn’t get much screen time, he delivers some of the best lines in the movie and he plays well with Day’s character, bringing some levity to an otherwise serious film.

The standout performance comes from Idris Elba, who plays the passionate and fearless leader of the Jaeger program, Stacker Pendecost. Elba brings a presence and intensity that commands your attention every time he’s on screen. He brings a character that would otherwise be one-dimensional to life and gives him depth.

Pacific Rim is a visual spectacle. Much of the action takes place in water or rain, lending a slightly blurry aesthetic similar to a watercolour. You feel Del Toro’s passion in the character designs and in every action sequence. Your inner twelve-year-old will giggle in excitement as a Jaeger boxes a Kaiju before wrestling it and slicing it to pieces. Del Toro holds nothing back with the CGI for the action sequences.  He imaginatively crafts a vivid and colourful world, both on land and below. Although Pacific Rim is set in the future, it isn’t filled with hovercrafts and teleportation devices, instead choosing more realistic land-locked cars and power tools.

If you’re looking for a nostalgic and fun summer blockbuster, you’ll get one.  The stunning action sequences, awesome suits of armor, and some of the best-looking CGI robots to date all work together to overcome the thin character development. No need for 3D, though, as it adds nothing to the film. Save that money for some Jaeger action figures, which you’ll probably want after seeing Pacific Rim.

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