When the first trailer came out for Pacific Rim, I can not say I was impressed. To me, it looked just about as enjoyable as a Michael Bay Transformers movie. You know, the kind that are nothing special but are still a lot dumb fun with big explosions and a special effects budget the size of a Gundam’s mechanized erection. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting it to be the life-changing film that it is.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of mechs. From the original Mobile Suit Gundam to Zoids and every obscure anime in-between. I can’t say I shared the same love more giant monsters, but I’ll be damned to deny ever stomping through cities of dandelions while pretending to be an incredibly flamboyant Godzilla. Together, robots and monsters have always been the on-screen equivalent of peanut butter and jelly. Unless you are deathly allergic, they go undeniably well together. Despite the time tested formula for enjoyment, Pacific Rim manages to reinvent your childhood conceptions of what robot versus monster combat was meant to be in such a way that could only be brought to life by the gifted mind of Guillermo del Toro.
On paper, the story isn’t all that original. Monsters known as the Kaiju invade the Pacific Ocean through an underwater wormhole and then destroy cities and kill millions of people along the Pacific Rim. Obviously, no army in the world stands a chance against to Kaiju, so the Jaeger Program is green lit, where nations unite and come together to build and pilot giant robots to fight the monsters on more equal ground. That has been done a thousand times before, right? It certainly feels like the opening of every poorly dubbed anime I’ve ever recommended to a friend. The true magic that sets this apart from the rest is the way Guillermo del Toro manages to alter our perceptions of what’s considered “original” in a truly mesmerizing way that allows the viewer to be glued to the screen, truly immersed in the film.
The entirety of Pacific Rim feels like an anime. That’s not meant to belittle it, because it’s truly unlike any anime or live-action adaptation that has come before. If you have seen Guillermo del Toro’s incredible Pan’s Labyrinth, you know that Guillermo del Toro knows how to create the most imaginative and terrifying monsters possible, and those in Pacific Rim are no exception, only this time they are on a much larger scale. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the same Guillermo del Toro level of detail has also been applied to the Jaegers. Seriously, the visual effects in Pacific Rim go unrivaled. The entire movie reminds me of that time I tried shrooms and couldn’t tell the difference between real life and my imagination for an hour and a half. Live-acting and computer generated monstrosities were intertwined with such a precision level of detail, I felt like my eyes were seeing the world for the very first time – and it was love at first sight. Our dearly departed co-founder and friend Craig Kandiko predicted that Pacific Rim will win an Oscar for visual effects and I wholeheartedly agree. The visual effects in Pacific Rim raises the bar of what I previously thought were possible without sacrificing the integrity of the film.
Instead of simply putting pilots into the Jaegers and sending them off on their way, Guillermo del Toro and his talented co-writer Travis Beacham constructed an elaborate way to make the giant robots seem all the more impressive. See, it’s impossible for a single human to pilot a Jaeger because no one in the world can handle the neuro-stimulus that’s required to get the Jaeger up and running at full compactly. To solve this, two pilots must engage in what is called a “neural handshake,” which synchronizes all their thoughts, memories, and brain patterns – making them one with the Jaeger, as well as each other.
If there are any complaints to be had about Pacific Rim, it’s the human portion of it, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. The characters aren’t over the top and feel like real people, providing the perfect level of drama and humor. The only problem is, a human is nowhere near as interesting as the visual marvels that are the Jaegers and Kaiju, but they still serve their purpose well and don’t take away from the reason you’re seeing the film. Trust me, they aren’t Pacific Rim’s equivalent of Shia LaBeouf taking away your enjoyment of Transformers. Forgive me for making a Transformers comparison. Unlike that franchise, Pacific Rim is a movie that can’t be nitpicked to death.
Pacific Rim is half summer blockbuster of epic proportions, half comeback story, and all awesome. It’s to mechs as Jurassic Park was to dinosaurs. There has always been films with giant robots in them, but there has never been a breakout film that truly shatters what you thought was possible with a concept you’ve always known and loved. That’s what Pacific Rim does. It shatters your childhood and rebuilds it in front of you, bigger, faster, and stronger. Leaving the theater, you will feel moved by the film and compelled to see it as many times as your wallet will allow. Pacific Rim isn’t a movie that gets old, but a movie that will only get better every time you watch it.
To call Pacific Rim a “love letter” to fans of mechs, monsters, and all things awesome is a complete understatement. It’s truly everything great about your childhood in one film. Pacific Rim managed to show me that you don’t outgrow your childhood; your childhood grows up alongside you. If you didn’t have a childhood filled with mechs, monsters, and an imagination that knew no bounds, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim will welcome you with open arms and make you feel like a little kid again.
In Theaters: July 12, 2013
Runtime: 131 min
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site: http://www.pacificrimmovie.com/