An ode to the monster movies of yore, and a hastily scrawled love letter to Japanese mech warriors, Pacific Rim boasts plenty of spectacles but gets too sucked into its own world of ‘B-movie’ nonsense and as a result I found it hard to distinguish the bits that were meant to be ‘self-consciously’ bad from those that were just plain bad.
The film hurls us into a future in which gigantic, Godzilla-Esque monsters known as Kaiju are periodically emerging from an interdimensional portal located at the eponymous Pacific Rim and launching attacks on Earth’s cities.
In retaliation, the global superpowers have pooled their resources and built 250-foot tall, human-controlled mech robots known as Jaegers to deploy in the battle against the formidable foes.
Sadly, and for reasons never adequately explained, as the Kaiju get bigger the world’s governments to divert spending away from the usually-effective Jaeger and into some giant (and substantially less effective) walls.
That’s where Admiral Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) comes in. Head of the Jaeger program and a former fighter himself, he is assembling the last men standing to launch a final assault on the emerging Kaiju.
Among his rag-tag bunch of metal-clad super folk is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a Jaeger pilot who lost his brother/co-pilot in battle, and the Admiral’s young charge Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a girl saved from the smoldering wreckage of Shanghai.
As they prepare for battle, two bumbling scientists are, however, on the cusp of a discovery that will change the course of the conflict once and for all…
The scale of the battles is impressive, with the great monsters wreaking all manner of havoc in their battles with the Jaeger. But the film is just so riddled with idiocy, inconsistency and cancerous character archetypes that it was near-impossible for me to enjoy.
The battle themselves make little sense. Why are humanoid mech robots being deployed to sea battles? Why are they lifted there by helicopters when they have jet packs? Why are pilots, supposedly connected by a neural link, yelling at each other in poorly control decks that belong in Alton Towers? And why do none of the pilots seem aware of most of the armories their battle bots possess?
These are just some of the myriad questions that hurtled through my mind as I sought distraction from the long drudgery of this film.
I could perhaps have coped with simple spectacle and nothing more, I’ve been known to enjoy the odd vacuous outing on occasion but for reasons unknown, Del Toro insists on filling his story with horrendous ‘human’ storylines.
The love story between Becket and Mori is ham-fisted at best, Idris Elba’s stoic Admiral ekes out a ‘tragic’ tale as the actor himself dials in a performance, and the zany scientists serve little, if any, useful function.
Why Del Toro allowed this behemoth of a film to lumber into a runtime of such magnitude is just another of the many questions I can add to my list about this film.
Perhaps some of you will enjoy the nonsensical spectacle in a retro/ironic kind of way, others may excuse Del Toro’s frantic vacillations as self-conscious commentary, so if you’re set on watching it I won’t attempt to stop you. Anyone hovering on the fence, however, would be well advised to skip this long-winded farce altogether.