In the near future, a rift opens up in the Pacific Ocean. Instead of a tsunami, the rift creates an inter-dimensional portal that allows building-sized monsters to enter our world. The Kaiju —the Japanese word for strange creature — aren’t visiting our planet to check out the tourist attractions. They’re here to destroy.
Jets, tanks and foot soldiers are no match for the Kaiju. World governments have to think bigger. So begins the Jaeger program of equally big robots. These robots are so big that two people must pilot each one. In major world cities, robots and Kaiju fight, throwing each other through buildings and destroying by block.
Why would people live in cities where robots and monsters go 12 rounds regularly? Just shut up and watch the robots.
I could tell you more, but if you’ve seen Top Gun and Independence Day, you can predict everything from the plot points to the dialog.
Pacific Rim is not about plot or character. It’s about spectacle.
What would happen if you gave a group of pre-teens Pixie Stix and $200 million?
Director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II) answers that question with an orgy that results in some impressive destruction. In between battles royale, del Toro tries to form a moving human plot. Big mistake. Dialog is iffy at best, with such gems as “Today we’re canceling the apocalypse!”
Bad dialog is vexing, but a superfluous and unbelievable love story is unforgivable. Pacific Rim’s star-crossed lovers — Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (The Warped Forest) — are devoid of charm and chemistry.
In all the time wasted on longing glances and clumsy interactions, del Toro could have developed the two characters who do make an emotional impact. Idris Elba (The Wire) and Max Martini (Revenge) provide the film’s only human and emotional interest.
Yet Pacific Rim is an enjoyable film for consumers of science fiction and action films. Influenced by the works of Lovecraft and the Hando Godzilla films, each of the Kaiju is lovingly constructed and terrifying. Battles are astounding, especially in IMAX showings. Action sequences alone are worth the price of admission. It’s a shame that del Toro didn’t cast caution to the wind and make a silent epic.
If you grew up wishing Optimus Prime would challenge Godzilla to a grudge match, Pacific Rim is the fantastic, cacophonous answer to your dreams.