Pacific Rim REVIEW

Pacific Rim film review.

Release Date: 12 July 2013
12A | 131 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman

Giant robots battling it out with a variety of slavering, screeching, sizeable monsters, all wrangled by the man behind Hellboy and Cronos; if that’s exactly what you’re looking for from an apopcornalyptic movie, then Pacific Rim delivers in spades. Guillermo del Toro’s never one to shy away from feeding the fan within and powering projects with his passions, and this feels like him shovelling sugar down the gullet of his 12-year-old self and setting him loose with the biggest play set that ILM’s toymakers can bring to life.

Unfortunately, the script, primarily credited to Travis Beacham and the director, also feels like it was written by a teenager who has only seen humans interact in movies like Top Gun. Every time the action cuts away from a Jaeger brawling with an inter-dimensional beast, the entertainment level starts to fall. Most of the main characters – all played by perfectly fine actors such as Luther’s perma-scowling Idris Elba, Sons Of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam and Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi – dip into the dictionary of Clichétonia. Some tropes are hard to avoid in a film like this, but Pacific Rim crashes into them with all the force of a freighter thrown by a titan, and the results are not pretty.

The names of the characters might be fun and inventive (Elba’s Stacker Pentecost in particular) but their stories are not. Troubled central figure haunted by a tragic past who has to come out of self-enforced retirement to help in humanity’s direst moment of need? The gruff commander with his own secrets? The arrogant, sullen colleague who doesn’t trust our hero to open a can of rations, let alone save the world? All present and correct, with a cute mascot dog thrown in for good measure. It’s a shame that a talented cast are given so little to work from when they’re not crammed into those robo-cockpits. Especially in a film from the man who brought layers to Hellboy and treated the world to Pan’s Labyrinth.

One or two amongst the group manage to rise above the material, with Elba delivering a memorable speech about cancelling the apocalypse, and Charlie Day and Burn Gorman – yes, him from Torchwood – delivering swathes of exposition and managing to make it all come off like a comedy double act, not a lecture. Day buzzes with comic energy as wired Kaiju obsessive Newton “Newt” Geizsler, a nerd trying to break free of the conventions who’s desperate to get his theories across to distrustful military bosses. Gorman’s Dr Herman Gottlieb, meanwhile, comes across like a League Of Gentlemen character slotted into the film, playing with slicked, greasy hair and a cane as he posits his more mathematical ideas about the creatures’ behaviour. Then there’s del Toro’s old mucker Ron Perlman: for once not buried in layers of latex, he’s war profiteer Hannibal Chau, a man who’s spotted a gap in the market for dead Kaiju parts and seems happy for them to keep showing up as long as it means he stays in business and can afford to wear gold shoes. Striding into the movie and stealing his few scenes with aplomb, this is Perlman having a whale of a time, and his morality-free enthusiasm is infectious.

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