Tuesday 9 July 2013

Pacific Rim review

Pacific Rim (12A, 131 mins)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Wildly anticipated, Guillermo del Toro’s first film since Hellboy II five years ago is a thundering slice of sci-fi action that, given its premise and budget, emerges as a typically overbearing, sporadically very entertaining blockbuster.

It’s got problems, and plenty of them, but these are papered over with enough skill, exuberance and spectacle that more forgiving audience members should find much to tickle them.

In an extensive prologue we learn that massive alien beasties, Kaiju, are coming to earth via a portal deep beneath the Pacific, kicking off a seven-year war after humanity’s response comes in the shape of enormous people-controlled robots, Jaeger, used to battle the Kaiju.

One such Jaeger pilot is Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), an orders-ignoring hotshot the likes of which we’ve seen a thousand times in movies like this. They're fighting a losing battle, with the Jaeger programme due to be retired in favour of erecting defensive walls, until it becomes clear that the few remaining robots are earth’s last hope.

With all the bombast and subtlety of a Michael Bay effort, Armageddon and Transformers being the most obviously referenced, and with the woeful banter to go along with it, this is brainlessly chaotic stuff. Elements of Avatar are in there too, and naturally plenty Godzilla, but such considerations aren’t really at the top of the agenda. This is a movie with little but carnage on its mind, and on that front it delivers.

Once the initial heavy bursts of destruction are out of the way, the movie pauses for a lengthy bout of training and character introduction. This midsection finds the film at its weakest, with the most periods of talk, and the clunkiest of interactions and relationships. During this down-time, the need for action is covered by flashbacks and memories and internal squabbling between Raleigh and his rival pilots.

But, notwithstanding the fact that it can get rather dull during that middle stretch, what saves Pacific Rim is its well-drilled structure and sense of pacing, a ruthlessly controlled build that takes us from glimpsed skirmishes to colossal scraps between Kaiju and Jaeger, as cities topple beneath them.

We’re well used to seeing this level of photo-real devastation in Transformers or The Avengers, and right up to last month’s Man of Steel, but Pacific Rim still manages to throw up moments that astonish and, given its very straightforward setup of monsters versus robots, even surprise. A thumping score propels it too, while Idris Elba generally manages to rise above the risible dialogue with a commanding turn as the soldier in charge.

As long as you don’t pay too much attention to most elements of the story, Pacific Rim does the job it set out to do. It gets better as it goes along, which is important, and in its scale and threat it’s genuinely epic. It doesn’t maintain it all the way to the end, and it’s regularly thoroughly dumb, but when it’s good it can be very good indeed.


  1. jervaise brooke hamster21 July 2013 at 10:31

    Paul, if you dont mind me saying so, i think its nothing short of absolutely scandalous and totally unacceptable that you gave that British made piece of dog-shit "The Worlds End" 4 stars and yet you`ve only given 3 stars to the unmittigated genius of "Pacific Rim", you know as well as i do that any 30 second clip (or even a random still image from any point in the movie for that matter ! ! !) from "Pacific Rim" would be 1000 times better and more breathtakingly entertaining by itself than literally everything that the British film industry has ever produced put together over the last 124 years since the invention of the cinematograph circa 1889, once again you should be bloody-well ashamed of yourself my old mate. ALL British films are shit, ALL American films are gold, that really is all there is to it ! ! !.

  2. The dialog is so horrible in this movie that I was embarrassed to be watching it (I was alone too)