I went into this virtually blind. I will admit that my usual modus operendi when following a summer tentpole movie is to check out multiple articles, photos, set reports, et cetera to check out how the movie is developing. I try to shy away from spoilers for the most part but I have noticed that the less likely I think the film will amuse me the more likely I will check spoilers. The exception is if I feel I have the movie figured out by watching the trailer then I go to see how accurate I was in my analysis of said trailer. The Cabin in the Woods is a good example. Figured out the whole movie including the twist before I stepped into the theater and was not suprised with how sad (read: poor) that movie was.
All I knew about Pacific Rim was this: Kaiju monsters, giant robots, Del Toro was directing, I was going opening night. Thats all. I did not even know the run time for the movie. This is unheard of for me.
The film starts out with a recap of how the world ended up in the situation it is in. A dimentional rift opened up at the bottom of the Pacific ocean where the first Kaiju emerged from. Our first encounter took place in San Fransisco where the Kaiju caused unheard of distruction. After a few days and numerous tanks, jets, military power, and guile the armed forces put this beast down. But more attacks kept coming. The worlds governements joined together to come up with a solution to the kaiju: The Jaegers. Jaegers are man made giant robots piloted by two humans built to fight the beasts. The solution was working. We were winning, Jaeger pilots were celebrities, kaiju toys are being sold, and we become complacent to the real danger these beasts present.
When US Jaeger "Gypsy Danger" was deployed to defend Anchorage, Alaska we learned that something changed. The kaiju are adapting. Becoming stronger, smarter, and ready for us. Cut ahead five years and the Jaeger program has been defunded, the world's government has placed all the hopes of protecting the people on the Wall of Life project. And we see one half of Gypsy Dangers pilot team working on a wall segement in Alaska where he is reactivated as a pilot again and the Jaeger teams are now part of the resistance. And only four Jaegers remain. As the frequency of the attacks increase, more powerful kaiju emerge from the rift. A plan is set into motion to seal the rift once and for all.
And that is all the story you will get out of me for this review. If you want it in detail I advise you to forgo spoilers and just see the film. Yes I enjoyed this movie. It ticked off all the boxes of my expectations and exceeded many of them as well. The biggest one for me was is the movie fun. It was fun. Fun may not be strong enough to describe the enjoyment I got on a purely emotional level. During the battle of Hong Kong I realized that for the entire sequence my mouth hung open in pure awe at the specticle that was being shown on screen. Visceral, powerful, and epic are decent adjectives to try to explain such spectacles.
The movie also is quiet and reserved at moments when dealing with the human element but make no mistake the personalities are just as large as the mecha and monsters themselves. If I was to give a negative criticism to this film is that is does not allow you to get to know the other Jaeger pilot teams outside the US and Australian units. I would have loved to see more of the Chinese team (triplet brothers) and the Russian team (a married couple piloting the last first generation Jaeger and they have been in active duty for six years). What I wrote is about all you get for those units. That is a shame considering how lively and unique all the characters are in this movie. Ron Pearlman's "Hannibal Chau" damn near stole the film for me and I wanted more of him on screen. Overall I was pleased with the actors and their roles.
Though any audience will like this movie for numerous reasons people with a passing knowledge of Japanese Anime, specifically the mecha genre, will get the most out of this film. Del Toro crafted a live action anime done with not only the love of a fan of the genre but the eye and skill of a master film maker. All of his signatures of his prior works are present like his use of the mundane and weird, his use of color in every scene, how he frames shots and look of his sets. Del Toro also reaches into tropes associated with various anime and manga and utilizes them through out but in a way that feels natural and blends into the world he has crafted instead of standing out awkwardly. This movie is a blending of cultural influences unleashed into a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. To delve anymore into that logic would have me spoiling moments in the film.
With regards to the visuals and sound used this was superb. Visually the Jaegers and Kaiju all looked as if they were real and belonged in the world and not just CGI added in production. The visual looks of the robots and monsters were all distinct and gave a personality to each. I especially liked how the various Kaiju all looked different and had different abilities. And the sounds that came from the battles just rocked the theater with out being over powering. Loud is fine but when its loud just for the sake of then you lose purpose. Sound was crafted and utilized very well here. I would not be suprised if this film gets nominated for Sound and Visual Effects Oscars.
I know for my money this was a major win. I want more good films in this vein and I would like them now. Now dammit! However I will also say that I do not want a sequel to this movie. Pacific Rim is a contained story, much like some manga and anime are, and does not need further exploration into this world. But my oh my what a story is told. Action, drama, comedy added at the right moments. I could not have been happier with the final product if I had made this myself.
So do go see Pacific Rim. Take your kids if they are 6-8 and up even though its PG-13. I did not find it too scary and to be frank they will be entralled by the giant robots kicking tremendous ass. Be warned though: they will want more of this when it is over. For the young kids today this should become the defining movie that moulds their interests into adulthood and beyond. Kids in the 1950's had westerns and pulp stories, kids my age had Star Wars, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and kids today get Pacific Rim. I cannot wait to see what todays kids create when they become adults.