Considering our contemporary tastes and new technology with regard to worldwide entertainment, at least on screen, this is about as big as the stakes can get. Never has this kind of story been given such a grand appreciation for the scale of it’s events, simply because it hasn’t been possible until now. This is the epic action movie we want to see. These are the titans of western civilization.
Avatar set a new bar for how wildly imaginative and visually capable that films can now possibly be. Not just with 3D specifically, but as an all-around sensory experience. In the few years since then, IMAX and 3D have continued to prove their worth, but not in the same way. Finally another movie has entered that realm. The visual effects here are so above and beyond anything you can possibly imagine, there’s no point in dragging the point out, this paragraph will have to suffice. Needless to say, this one has to be seen in 3D and on as large a screen as conceivably possible.
This isn’t simply a robot movie, nor just an alien invasion… it’s something above and beyond. While the science-fiction isn’t anything groundbreaking, it has a clever enough spin on the classic “apocalyptic takeover” angle to perk you up right out of the gate. The action-packed opening sets the size and tone immediately, providing a nice launchpad for two more hours of seemingly relentless fight sequences between skyscraper-sized mechwarriros and “two-hundred million ton” interdimensional monsters… it simply cannot get any cooler than that.
To flatter the idea any more, or even attempt at explaining it, would defeat the purpose. The general consensus from everyone thus far is that Pacific Rim makes you feel like a kid again, because this movie really has no bounds whatsoever. Guillermo del Toro has taken every child’s Toy VS Toy in Lego City fantasy and put it on a massive 3D screen. Monsters step on trucks for the sole purpose of watching them get crushed. More enemies come out of literally nowhere, for no motivation other than our interest in making the fight bigger. They categorize the monsters on a 1-5 scale, so by the end of the movie, they’re faced a gargantuan 5. When the Colonel drops that line on his men, it’s so dreaded and dramatic, yet so simple and endearing at the same time. Sitting there on my living room floor as a wee lad, I don’t remember having all the answers, not every single time. Sometimes things just happened. Yes, you poor unfortunate robot… all of a sudden the monster actually flies too, so deal with it!
I’m an admitted sucker for the Transformers movies, or rather different chunks of each one. The biggest gripe most people had with those films has always been an imbalance between real characters and the gigantic CG robots while attempting to salvage some type of worthwhile story we can reasonably connect with. This is just as off-kilter in Pacific Rim, but here it’s at least done in good taste and moves along quickly. Typically, this kind of big action is just a brilliant, expensive distraction from a mediocre or formulaic story about real people, but this time the humans just get in the way. I have never cared less about caring less for the characters, but this is definitely that movie. It’s a higher-brow Transformers, which is probably what most people have been bleakly hoping for.
There is actually a large cast though, so let’s humor them for a moment. Standing above the crowd is everyone’s favorite: Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, who was born to play this kind of role. He’s not meant to be the hero in this story, so he isn’t tasked as such. However, there is nobody better at dealing out lightening-fast nonsensical sci-fi exposition than him; he’s absolutely perfect. The rest of the cast does their best and mostly fits the bill. In rare moments of humanity (totally detached of the ridiculous story) they’re quite fine… but then every once in a while, somebody blurts out an abysmally written line that kind of kills the mood, for however short a time it might be. Kind of like a burp in a monologue or a poorly landed fart on an otherwise great date. Lots of farts here though, which is exactly how it feels. Less beans in the sequel, please.
Some of these instances can be chalked up to the silliness of the story, but a few could have really been saved with a slightly more tactful approach to the screenplay. Despite the 130+ minute runtime, I think just about everyone could agree than another five minutes would have been quite welcome if it would spare us some of those painfully forced lines in the script. This only hits home the point of the movie though, that it’s all about the action. They even manage to squeeze in a plausibly awesome dinosaur reference.
VERDICT: The coolest movie I’ve seen in a long time. The Titans of Western Civilization. But be warned… you may never look at toys the same way again.