Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Pacific Rim


When Guillermo del Toro announced his epic vision for "Pacific Rim", fanboys all over the world rejoiced. Naturally, it arrived this summer with huge expectations and thankfully, it didn't disappoint.
The story begins with a brief introductory prologue about the war between mankind and sea monsters called kaiju. Earth is on the brink of an apocalypse and requires one last stand to prevent humanity from going extinct. Using high-tech fighting machines called jaegers, a team of experts sets out to engage in this final showdown with the beasts. I could go on to analyze the finer details of the screenplay, but that would be futile. "Pacific Rim" is first and foremost an action movie, not a drama.
After the perfectly concise "cliffs notes" backstory, you are fully prepared for the thrill ride ahead. The film is jam-packed with setpieces that literally took my breath away at one point. As I said, the film is all about the fighting and those scenes are truly worth the price of admission. The battles deliver the excitement and adrenaline rush that a great summer blockbuster should. The sheer scale of the film is staggering, with some amazing visuals that are so detailed that you can tell that a lot of hard work was put into it. Simply put, the film looked expensive.
You may be wondering what separates this from films like "Transformers"? Well, this is a case where the director's touch makes a big difference. In the hands of Guillermo del Toro, the big moments are filmed with a measure of beauty and artfulness, unlike the rote bravado of some other directors in the genre. Heck, I'm a Transformers apologist (the first film) and even I could tell a distinct difference in terms of directing skill. Guillermo captures that wide-eyed wonder and "wow factor" that's very rare in these days of "popcorn movie" saturation. Yes, the film may lack emotional/intellectual depth and nuance, but it's an outstanding visual spectacle.
Among all the fighting, there's also a welcome dose of humour. This comes mainly from Charlie Day, who once again proves that he makes every film better with his presence. As an eager scientist, his energetic shtick suits the role perfectly. Less effective is his counterpart Burn Gorman. His characterization is just too broad and strays into caricature. This is a minor qualm however and didn't affect my enjoyment of the film whatsoever. The other actors fare well too, but they are really just there to serve the story (it's clearly not an "actor's film").
With its efficient storytelling, brisk pacing and outstanding visuals, "Pacific Rim" successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do. If you want an exciting action movie with purposeful direction, then I would definitely recommend this one.

9 comments:

  1. Good review Shane. Had a nice time with this flick, problem was that the script sort of blew. Actually, it didn't "sort of", it totally did.

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    1. Thanks Dan. Yeh, the script wasn't great but I had to just remind myself that it was an action movie. It's more in tune with those action flicks of the 80s or 90s (think of something like "Predator"). Noawadays, we tend to mix it with drama (like Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy) and have come to expect those rich characters and dense storylines.

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  2. Well said Shane. I had fun with it and was blown away by the set-pieces.

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    1. Thanks, it was definitely a fun time at the cinema.

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  3. Good review! Design was great, effects were great. The film had some problems but I wasn't overly disappointed.

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