Monday, July 29, 2013

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is a love letter from director Guillermo Del Toro to his childhood and the movies that inspired him. If you were ever a little boy who loved robots, monsters, and dinosaurs, Pacific Rim is the coolest thing you will ever see. However if these aren’t where your interests lie the two plus hour running time and sometimes cheesy, B-movie feel may leave you looking for an exit.

It’s hard to imagine there being much middle ground on Pacific Rim. This is fanboy fodder in its purest form. The majority of the film is red meat fan service for fans of the genre. If like me you grew up on Godzilla and Transformers, the in depth kaiju profiles and stunning jaegar (robot) fist fights will leave you cheering and bouncing on your chair. Otherwise, while the film does attempt some relationship building and character development, the tongue in cheek, almost goofy feel of the narrative may make you feel like you’ve slipped in to a screening of a SyFy channel movie.

If you’re a movie monster fan, Pacific Rim is at least the best new film for the genre since Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 2005 and succeeds in carving out a fantastic world and mythology to latch on to. In contrast to the bleak, horror presentation of Cloverfield or the light, retro feel of Super 8, Pacific Rim nails a perfect middle ground in which the action is intense and the monsters are fierce but the narrative remains fun and accessible. Pacific Rim certainly shows its influence from Japanese daikaiju movies like Godzilla and Gamera not just in its focus on skyscraping monsters but in the entire tone and atmosphere of the film.

Guillermo Del Toro brings his signature dark, gothic style to the subject with eye popping results. The Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director is working with a bigger budget and larger scale than ever before and the mix of blockbuster spectacle with his more abstract, intimate style is a beautiful cacophony that results in a unique movie going experience, even for the genre. The shadowy visuals Del Toro is renowned for have never seemed more fitted to a film than this one. Giant monsters fighting is cool but giant monsters fighting in the ocean while it rains, illuminated only by a neon Hong Kong skyline is awesome.

I am in the top percentile of Godzilla nerds so I am admittedly bias towards Pacific Rim. There was really no way I could have not liked this movie and in fact I can confidently say that I love Pacific Rim. However I recognize the same will not be true for everybody and the movie definitely leans towards its niche audience. If you’re just looking for a fun time and big spectacle to go with some popcorn you can’t do much better than Pacific Rim – but if you’re looking for anything else, you better just move along.

Grade: B

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page