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Movie Review: Pacific Rim

July 12, 2013

Pacific Rim PosterPacific Rim – A Warner Bros. Release

Release Date: July 12th, 2013

Rated PG for violence and frightening scenes

Running time: 131 minutes

Guillermo del Toro (dir.)

Travis Beacham (screenplay and story)

Guillermo del Toro (screenplay)

Ramin Djawadi (music)

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket

Diego Klattenhoff as Yancy Becket

Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost

Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori

Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler

Burn Gorman as Gottlieb

Max Martini as Herc Hansen

Robert Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen

Clifton Collins Jr. as Ops Tendo Choi

Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau

Pacific Rim

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) in Pacific Rim.

Our reviews below:


Pacific Rim Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Believe the hype – Pacific Rim is awesome.  Exhilarating and beautifully constructed, even the 3D worked for me in this spectacular big screen experience.  Legendary director Guillermo del Toro has delivered a film that surpassed my already high expectations, a pure shot of adrenaline bolstered by a captivating human element.

When a portal was opened in the Pacific Ocean that allowed gigantic aliens known as Kaiju to come into our world, the government fought back by building Jaegers, humongous mechanical beasts controlled by two pilots with the power to fight the monsters.  The program is run by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), but the war has been going on for over a decade and financial support is dwindling.  Five years after losing his brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) in battle, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is back in the Jaeger program, still scarred by the death which he experienced through the powerful “neural handshake” that connects the two pilots.  He meets his match in Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a skilled young pilot who is new to the program.

The film takes care to build up the characters between the action scenes, including an unforgettable and beautifully done flashback sequence that uses haunting imagery to illustrate the towering magnitude of the alien monsters.  There is also an entertaining subplot with the highly excitable Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and his equally eccentric colleague Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), who offer some interesting insights into the research behind the program.  The sleazy Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), who is in the business of selling harvested Kaiju parts on the black market, also gets some memorable scenes.

The mythology behind Pacific Rim is immensely rich, a work of pure imagination that satisfies the senses while stimulating the mind.  Filmed on sets built at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, there is a sense of realness to everything that has been brought to the screen, and the effects are blended perfectly with the mostly practical backgrounds.  The special effects are simply stunning, and the fight scenes play out on an exhilarating scale that makes us fully aware of the scope and size of these beasts.  The sound design is also excellent, further surrounding us in the surprisingly tactical world of the film.  The music by Ramin Djawadi is stellar.

There is a moment during the stunning climactic sequence when we see hundreds of people taking refuge together amidst the showdown, and for me this image symbolizes a message of everyone coming together in a time of need.  The fact that the machines are only as strong as the pilots ability to join forces gives interesting depth to the story, and this sense of working together is present throughout the diverse cast of characters, with the heroine just as important as the hero.  This feeling of hope that there are true human heroes left in the world who are willing to work together and make real sacrifices to save those around them, injects a genuine emotional core to Pacific Rim that makes the film truly stand out.

This is the sort of stunningly realized escapism that the summer movie season was made for, perfectly combining awesome special effects along with a surprisingly human story about people coming together to save each other.  Make this one a priority, because Pacific Rim is among the best movies of the year.


Pacific Rim Review by Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

When the film opens, the year is 2020.  For the last seven years, monsters have been landing on Earth through a portal from another world deep beneath the Pacific Ocean.  These monsters are called Kaiju by us (Japanese for ‘monster’).  In order to stop them the governments of the world have banded together to create the Jaeger program (Jaeger being German for ‘hunter’), a program where two pilots connect to control one giant machine capable of matching their movements and fighting the Kaiju.  Five years after this opening, attacks are just becoming more and more frequent and the Jaeger program is having trouble keeping up.  Unless it is understood why the Kaiju are coming and how to put a stop to it once and for all, soon there won’t be anyone left to protect.

Former Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is called upon to repilot an old machine for a new mission, along with a young woman named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who’s city was destroyed by a Kaiju attack.  Together they and other teams of two or three pilots enter into a ‘neural handshake’ called The Drift where they essentially are mind-melded with each other to pilot the machine.  The fascinating thing is that each pilot brings their own memories and fears into The Drift as well as their fighting skills.  And what happens if one half of the team doesn’t make it?  There is a lot of character development allowed throughout Pacific Rim between both main and secondary characters, which is nice as a counterpoint to the (stunning) action sequences.

Pacific Rim is certainly an interesting film and a very entertaining one at that.  I quite enjoyed watching the performances and special effects, and the score by Ramin Djawadi fit right along as well.  It is a solid and smart summer blockbuster that is sure to have a broad appeal as a popcorn flick.  The 3D is quite good as well.


Pacific Rim Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Pacific Rim is a fun and intelligent action movie.  Set in the near future, it pits people in giant robotic suits called Jaegers against huge alien creatures known as Kaiju.  The Kaiju have been invading Earth through an interdimensional portal under the Pacific Ocean.  While the Kaiju don’t actually mean any harm (they are simply developers bulldozing through what they consider a planet inhabited only by dumb self destructive beings), millions of people have died due to their “housing project.”

Pacific Rim centres around Jaeger pilot Raliegh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a young man with a tragic past.  Raleigh’s brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) died while co-piloting a Jaeger with him.  The nature of Jaeger technology made Yancy’s death even more difficult to take, since Jaeger co-pilots must conjoin their minds in what is known as a “neural handshake.”  While dealing with the loss of his brother, Raleigh must find another co-pilot that is mentally compatible.  A woman named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who has suffered her own tragic past is the one that Raleigh connects to emotionally, but Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), head of the Jaeger program, thinks that Mako may be too emotionally fragile for the job.

Though the Jaeger program works to destroy individual Kaiju, nothing seems to stop the spread of the Kaiju as a whole.  But two nerdy scientists, Kaiju fan Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and his colleague Gottlieb (Burn Gormea), are coming up with a plan that just might put a stop to the Kaiju invasion once and for all.

What I loved about Pacific Rim is, unlike most action films, the situations are never black and white. The serious physical and emotional tolls of both the Kaiju/Jaeger war, and the Jaeger program itself, are shown.  The characters are well fleshed out and developed.  One really cares for these people.  Racial and gender equality is depicted in Pacific Rim, with the Jaeger program being an equal opportunity and multinational effort.

While the film is from the human point view, never does it paint the Kaiju as unfeeling brutes.  These beings don’t really have bad intentions.  When they get killed, they cry out in pain.  And when you find out one of the reasons for killing the Kaiju, one really starts to feel for them, as well as the people who are fighting them.

Guillermo del Toro’s pacifist beliefs really show through in Pacific Rim.  The film draws inspiration from Godzilla, another film about an oversize creature who humans are at war with.  Like in Godzilla, there are no winners in war.  The only way to defeat an enemy is to actually talk to him or her, and find out a way to avoid conflict.  Pacific Rim is a thought provoking sci-fi film that will certainly become a classic.


Pacific Rim Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

On the surface Pacific Rim appears to be just another noisy, action-driven mindless summer blockbuster.  The truth is, director Guillermo del Toro’s film is way better than that.  Pacific Rim is an impressive display of amazing giant robots, Jaegers, and giant sea monsters, Kaijus.  The visuals are technically stunning.  When the human pilots step inside their robotic suits and then move inside the gigantic Jaeger robot you feel like you are in there with them.  When two co-pilots join minds, a process called Drifting or a Neural Handshake, the visualization of two memories merging is really well done.

The plot in Pacific Rim is an interesting one.  In this near future world, as a result of climate change, conditions are now favourable for giant Kaiju to use a portal under the ocean beds to come to the surface and just by their giant presence destroy coastal cities in their path.  Humans assume that if they continue to build bigger and stronger machinery of course they’ll defeat the enemy.  It turns out bigger and better’s not always the answer.  Sometimes understanding your opponent leads to the answers.

While the Kaiju and the impressive Jaegers are the obvious stars of the movie, the human factor behind the machines are equally important.  Using lesser known actors in the key roles actually works for Pacific Rim.  The performances are all solid.

The Jaeger program is run by Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) a man who will do whatever it takes to keep the program going without government support.  The success of each Jaeger depends on the compatibility and co-operation of two co-pilots who’s minds have to mesh well.  The team of Raleigh Becket (Charlier Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) are especially interesting to see, since experienced pilot Raleigh and the intellectual young female Mako, who has no piloting experience, seem to be an unlikely match.  The scenes where we are given glimpse into Mako’s childhood memories are particularly interesting.

There are lighter moments in Pacific Rim thanks to two nerdy scientists, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) whose intellectual bickering steals many a scene.  Also fun to watch is the sleazy Kaiju parts dealer Hannibal Chau (Ron Pearlman).

From beginning to end, Pacific Rim is visually entertaining.  The 3D works well and the Jaegers and Kaiju are impressive to watch.  Even at 131 minutes the story never lags.  If you like good sci-fi action and appreciate the technicals behind this kind of film, then Pacific Rim is well worth seeing.


Pacific Rim Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Pacific Rim is director Guillermo del Toro’s homage to the Japanese manga, anime and tokusatu (special effects films) he grew up with featuring kaiju (huge monsters such as Godzilla) and mecha (huge fighting exoskeletons) called jaegers (German for hunter) in this film. In the year 2020, escalating kaiju attacks on Pacific coastal cities are threatening the survival of humanity. The kaiju take various forms that walk, swim and even fly, emerging from under the earth’s crust through a fissure in the Pacific ocean floor. Built to heights of about 80m to match the kaiju, jaegers require at least two neurally linked operators to move and deploy their weapons.

Despite increasing frequency of attacks from rapidly evolving kaiju, the jaeger program under Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) is winding down with only four surviving jaegers. There is an Australian one piloted by father and son Herc and Chuck Hansen (Max Martini and Robert Kazinski), a Russian one with a male/female team and a Chinese one with a team of triplets. The fourth jaeger is Gipsy Danger, an older generation American model formerly piloted by the Becket brothers.

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) had quit the jaeger program after losing his brother in a previous attack and barely surviving himself. Pentecost calls him back for the final showdown. Despite troubling childhood memories of being orphaned by kaiju, the brilliant trainee Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), proves to be a good match as a teammate for Raleigh. Comic relief is provided by two eccentric scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) and Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), a Hong Kong black marketeer in dead kaiju parts.

Though for outside fight scenes the considerable mechanical resources at ILM are enhanced by CGI, the cast mainly worked in realistic sets at Toronto’s Pinewood Studios, including being strapped into four storey high cockpits that like wild simulation rides would move along with the jaegers they were controlling. Brilliant editing links the beautifully choreographed external fight scenes with the motions and emotions of the mind melded pilots inside.

With a fine cast and character driven script to match the awesome special effects, Pacific Rim is satisfying on all levels. Like the best of its genre, though admittedly fantastic, the story unfolds intelligently with enough plausibility to maintain real suspense and interest in the outcome. The sure hand and pure joy of its visionary director is evident in every aspect of production and character design of both kaiju and mecha, and the score by Ramin Djawadi is an effective complement to the brilliant sound mix and editing.

In summary, Pacific Rim is a worthy tribute to the legacy of those to whom it is dedicated, Ray Harryhausen and his Japanese counterpart Ishirō Honda.


Consensus: Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is an exhilarating and beautifully constructed film that offers stunning special effects along with strong human characters, providing a spectacular blockbuster experience.  ***3/4 (Out of 4)

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