Thursday, July 11, 2013

“Pacific Rim” – Blasting in a theater near you.

Every now and again, I’ll give a movie a rating of “don’t ask for anything back because you know what you are getting.” I try not to give that rating too often because it’s a little bit of a cop out on my part and it doesn’t really tell you what I thought of the movie (of course, that’s what the rest of the review is for). If it’s the only thing you read, it doesn’t tell you whether or not I liked the movie or anything about the quality of the film. The reason I give that rating is to remind you that some movies are exactly what they appear to be in the previews and advertising and you shouldn’t be surprised by what you see in the movie. Pacific Rim is just that sort of movie. When they showed us previews of giant monsters fighting giant robots, that’s exactly what they deliver. And, holy crap, do they deliver.

Going into this movie, robots v. monsters was all I wanted to see. This might have been a function of having to sit through the mess that is The Lone Ranger, but part of it was also wanting to watch a really entertaining, standard definition, popcorn flick. In other words, I didn’t want to have to think about anything. As long as the writers didn’t try to put too much into the story, I’d be happy. Well…

The story is about as simplistic as could get – aliens invade Earth and we have to stop them or die. It’s the same story as every other invasion movie ever made and nothing more. In this iteration, the aliens are gigantic monsters, called Kaiju, that come through a rip in the floor of the ocean. Yep, they come from another dimension. Don’t think about it; accept it. After killing a couple of monsters and losing a couple of major cities, humans create giant robots called Jaegers. In order to control the Jaegers, two pilots must “drift,” i.e. share memories/mind meld. Seriously, don’t think about it; it’s the way they work.

After several years of kicking Kaiju ass, bigger, badder Kaiju show up and start defeating the Jaegers. Rather than build better Jaegers, the head of the U.N. (now the main human government) decides to build a giant wall around the Pacific Ocean. Okay – maybe you can think about it a little, but don’t worry too much – this idea is as stupid as it sounds. In a last ditch attempt to defeat the Kaiju forever, General Stacker (Idris Elba) pulls together the four remaining Jaegers and concocts a plan to close the rip in the ocean.

Our main character in all this is Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), a Jaeger pilot who experiences a tragedy, disappears for a few years, and is recruited back in by Stacker. He goes through the standard hero’s journey and teams up with a new partner, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). Rounding out the group are the other Jaeger pilots (who aren’t really worth describing as they are mostly fodder) and two zany scientists charged with figuring out how to close the rip. Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) is fixated on predicting when the next Jaeger is going to show up and Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) believes he can “drift” with a Kaiju. More importantly, these guys are the comic relief (along with Ron Perlman, who has slightly more than a cameo as a Kaiju body parts dealer) whose sole purpose is to give your senses a break from the onslaught of brain shattering sound and seizure inducing visuals (in other words – the reason you went to see this movie).

That’s it – that’s the movie. It couldn’t be more straightforward and I estimate that at least 100 minutes of the 132 minute running time is filled with fighting, fighting, and more fighting. The cast does their job, nothing comes off as trite, and we’re not asked to believe anything that contradicts the ludicrous premise or the world that’s been created for us. Above all, the special effects are near perfect and immerse the audience in the most visually satisfying film of the year – again, the whole reason they are there at all. That’s why I was there.

Rating: I already said it – it’s worth what you paid since you know what you’re getting, but I’m giving this a special caveat of worth the IMAX price (though the 3-D is still pointless). If you’re willing to spend to see this movie, spend for the added IMAX effects.

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