Director: Guillermo del Toro (2013)
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba
Find it: IMDB
One of the several films of 2013 I had been intrigued about but never got around to seeing. Well, Christmas is a time to rectify such oversights, and so I duly inserted my father's copy of Pacific Rim into the DVD player and prepared to watch giant robots do battle with giant fish monsters. Beyond the Nazis-on-the-Moon movie Iron Sky, it's hard to think of a more Dad-friendly film. Well, dads do love films about giant fuckin' robots.
In the near-ish future, humanity does battle with monstrous sea creatures from an undersea dimension. To this end, mankind builds a number of enormous robots (Jaegers) with which to beat the big fish about the head until they stop knocking over buildings, kicking down bridges and smashing everything in sight. Well, Hellboy was unavailable. Best of the best is Becket (Hunnam), veteran Jaeger pilot and mourning the loss of his brother/co-pilot, killed during a particularly vicious Kaiju attack. With the monsters getting bigger and resources dwindling, it's up to Becket to head up a last-ditch attempt at stopping the Kaiju in their tracks and destroy their entrance into our world. A little like the end of Avengers Assemble, except with less Hulk.
No Hulk, but plenty of smashing. At times, there's almost too much smashing. Rather than show us the Kaiju's first appearance or even the creation of the Jaegers, we're thrown in at the deep end - a fistfight between Kaiju and Jaeger. That's fine, but that's a hefty information dump right from the outset, and a lot of CGI. It leaves the film lacking in humanity, like Transformers but with better acting. Man-of-the-moment Idris Elba is Becket's boss, while Kikuchi is likeable as his partner. Her character is short changed in that she's both the only female presence in the film and subservient to Pentecost for most of the time. She does great with what she's given, but that isn't a great deal. Familiar faces such as Ron Perlman, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman keep the laughs coming, while ex-Eastender Robert Kazinsky is terrible as Jaeger pilot Chuck Hansen.
As a blockbuster, Pacific Rim is great. It's big, explosive and with plenty of action, scale and humour. As a Guillermo del Toro piece, however, it comes up lacking. It's a lot less pretty than the director's usual work and with much less heart. It's still leaps and bounds above Transformers or anything else Michael Bay has put out since Armageddon, but one can't help but feel a little disappointed.