As absurd and loud as Idris Elba’s moustache.
When you think of Guillermo Del Torro you most likely relate him to his dark fantasy worlds with Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) being the most prominent. The Mexican director also created the really enjoyable world of Hellboy and as we all know came so close to directing The Hobbit, which would of been really intriguing. Considering the rather dark scenarios his films take and the emphasise on strong characters it was quite something to hear about him developing a summer blockbuster.
Perhaps the most famous giant monster movie is Godzilla (along with King Kong) it has had various re-imaginings from it’s Japanese heritage. Hollywood attempted to recreate the creature in an all out CGI remake starring the likes of Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno, it’s pretty safe to say that it didn’t win over western audiences. With the release of Pacific Rim’s Robot v.s Monster big budget movie and the currently in-development Godzilla re-re-make, big monsters are suddenly really popular (and no doubt profitable)
With Pacific Rim were taken to a post-apocalyptic earth which is under-attack from giant alien creatures known as Kaiju that are continuing to appear from the sea. In order to combat these giant beings a special weapons program is set up creating massive robots called Jaegers, from which two pilots control and fight the Kaiju. However the Kaiju attacks begin to get stronger leaving earth’s hope on Raliegh, a has-been hero of the past and trainee pilot Mako.
One of the first things that hits you when viewing this big full on movie is the gigantic scale of not only the Kaiju and Jaegers themselves but the CGI that creates them. This ‘epicness’ is effectively where the film takes us as we watch the two beings crash together in loud fight scenes and let me tell you now, it’s great fun. There’s just something exhilarating about watching 200 feet tall monsters battle an equally as big robot. It reminds me of being a child and playing with toys in the same fashion, imagining the very epic scenes we see in this film. The film obviously takes many of it’s inspirations from Japanese culture and specifically anime, with Del Torro quoting the tv series Tetsujin nijuhachi-go as one from his childhood. It’s this absurd style that leads to the film being truly great fun however this heavy CGI is not without it’s sacrifices.
Unfortunately the characters are the typically wooden hollowed out shells we have come to expect of blockbusters though not one we would expect from Del Torro. This might very well be due to a cast featuring relatively unknown actors for instance Charlie Hunnam playing one of the pilots known as Raleigh. Alongside the slightly more experienced but no more well known to western audiences is Rinko Kikuchi playing co-pilot Mako. Even with with established actors Idris Elba, Ron Pearlman and Bern Gorman pretty much every character feels fake with the CGI the most believable part of the film. Now having said all this there is one very important difference between this and the likes of those Transformer films, I was willing to forgive the film. Usually this kind of poor characterization and lack of ‘soul’ would leave me frustrated and unable to enjoy the film, however as the film is largely these massive thrilling fight scenes it mattered less. There’s even several points where Idris Elba goes on a sudden angry outburst that felt really out of place, however I just laughed it off for this is a prime example of a film simply being about enjoyment.
This film is not without it’s flaws and whilst that is always holding it back from being a truly great film if you just let yourself taken in by the spectacular CGI fight scenes there is so much fun to be had. Also look out for a certain famous video game voice that really adds the icing to the absurd cake that is this film. (oh come on!)
p.s wait for the end of the credits for a summary of why you shouldn’t take this film seriously.