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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Pacific Rim (3-D) | Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

Pacific Rim

Unless you've seen the trailers or previously read about this film, you might not know that the science fiction action adventure, Pacific Rim refers to regions around the edge of the Pacific Ocean where most of the film's action takes place.

Instead of big name stars, director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) chose to enlist a cast of familiar international actors (including Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Kikucki, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky and Ron Perlman) and make the CGI created,  Kaiju and Jaegers the powerful draw.

The movie is the brainchild of Del Toro (who cowrote the script with Travis Beacham), a big fan of Japanese monster movies, like Godzilla and Mothra to name a few, from the 1950's and early 60's.  It has been a dream of his for years to make a film in that tradition and Pacific Rim was his chance to do so, but with his own new twist.

The tag line is “to fight monsters, we built monsters”.

To put it in nutshell, Pacific Rim is all about giant robots fighting giant monsters. Everything in between is filler.

Beginning in the not too distant future of 2020, deadly alien creatures called Kaiju (Japanese for ‘strange beast’) have emerged from a portal (called The Breach) deep in the Ocean with the intent of killing all mankind, destroying everything in their path and taking over the planet.   To fight them off, the world governments have formed a coalition called The Pan Pacific Defense Corps and have built giant beasts of their own, weaponized robots, the size of skyscrapers called Jaegers (German for “hunter”). Too powerful for one human to control, each Jaeger requires the manning of two co-pilots to connect their minds, aka mind meld, in what is called a “drift”, which allows them to operate and maneuver the killing machine as they stand inside the robot's head. Sharing brain power also means sharing memories, an element that could lead to disaster.

Five years later, the humans are losing, unable to keep up with the attacks.  The powers that be are about to abandon the Jaeger program and in its place build a defensive wall along the Pacific Coast with the hope of preventing further Kaiju invasions. Not sitting well with that idea, the leader of the Jaeger force, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (the charismatic, handsome Brit, Idris Elba) sets his own plan in motion, the Mark 3 restoration program which brings old retired Jaegers back to working order and the enlistment of ready and able pilots up for the job.  After a search to find one of the few men who can pilot an old Jaeger, Stacker recruits Former pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who left the service and turned to construction, after his co-pilot and brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) was killed in a mission in Alaska.  In need of a partner to drive his legendary, but worn out Jaeger from the past dubbed ‘Gypsy Danger’, Raleigh teams up (in more ways than one) with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, Oscar nominee for Babel,) a pretty pilot in training, with a history of baggage of her own,  and whose secrets are revealed during an almost catastrophic mind meld.

To throw in some conflict, there is also Australian Jaeger pilot Chuck Hansen (Rob Kazinsky, TV's True Blood), an arrogant brute with an immediate dislike for Raleigh, but he is restrained by his more cool and collected father and co-pilot Herc (Max Martini).

Added to the mix for some comedy relief, are two wildly eccentric scientists, biologist and Kiaju fanatic, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and mathematician Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) that are constantly bickering on how to predict Kaiju behavior. Gottlieb believes if he can mind meld with a recovered Kaiju brain, he can find a way to defeat them. Geiszler on the other hand, thinks scribbling mathematical algorithms on a blackboard will predict when and where Jaegers will attack.

Ron Pearlman (a regular in Del Toro's films) makes an appearance as Hannibal Chau, a Hong Kong based black market dealer in Kaiju body parts, who can supply Gottleib with a secondary brain, so the nerdy scientist can perform the neural hook up he longs for.  

Of course, the usual cliched characters, clunky dialogue and contrivances are secondary, since the fighting between the “good” and “bad” giants are clearly the main attraction or focus.  Yes, the battle scenes, whether taking place on land, at sea or underwater, are of epic proportions and the CGI is spectacular.  But, what I find totally distracting and an annoyance in so many action packed flicks, is at times when the camera work gets too close to the action it all becomes becomes too dizzying that you can't tell what is going on.

It comes down to this.  If you love action packed video games, or watching one battle sequence after another between giant monsters and giant robots, Pacific Rim is for you. However, If you were expecting something with more meaningful “depth” (aside from the ocean) from acclaimed filmmaker Del Toro, you are in for a letdown.

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