Monday, July 15, 2013

Pacifying ‘Pacific’

Fantastic behemoths punching and tearing each other apart have long been seared into viewers’ minds, but a fresh, effects-layered take makes it differently awe-inspiring. Godzilla-esque monsters wreak havoc but are challenged by ginormous robots in “Pacific Rim,” a fun and unrelenting summer flick directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro.
The unprecedented attacks of otherworldly creatures dubbed Kaiju devastate parts of the planet (including Manila!), but are eventually stifled by the Jaeger robots, created and unleashed by a unified humankind. The Jaegers are commonly piloted by two partners, intensely trained and telepathically bonded. But sharing consciousness can be a serious problem when even one of the operators harbors repressed traumas. Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) are survivors of harrowing ordeals, but must overcome their troubles if they are to defend mankind during the latest Kaiju onslaught.

As with previous del Toro films, “Pacific Rim” is visually spectacular; the filmmaker’s always been very specific with his vision and imagery, but moreso now when he’s allowed to create even bigger spectacles. The colossal fisticuffs are exciting, exceptionally choreographed and jaw-dropping (no hyperbole). 

But even when the humans take a back seat to the thunderous clashes, they’re actually still well-developed, if predictable. Hunnam, Kikuchi, Idris Elba (as the human fighters’ leader), Robert Kazinsky (as the arrogant brute), and Charlie Day (as a hyperactive scientist, who’d have thought?) stand out and are cohesive with the bigger, effects-flavored scenarios.

And “Pacific Rim” deserves a similarly epic sequel, hopefully one that has better-looking Jaegers with more distinct weaponry, and less predictable human drama. For now, it’s worth watching repeatedly, as it’s easily an escapist, fantastically realized and conflict-heavy world, perhaps your childhood fantasies coming to vivid and stunning life.  

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