Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Monsters fighting robots make for a spectacular sci-fi action film from Academy Award winner Guillermo Del Toro. The story doesn't worry too much about a plot as some voiceover narration from Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) explains the arrival of the gigantic Kaiju from a rift beneath the ocean. Humans responded after killing the first Kaiju by building Jaegers, giant robots, but they require two people to pilot them by a neural bridge. This plot point is a little distracting from a simple plot but allows for some character development. The first part of the story shows Becket and his brother piloting a Jaeger to fight off a Kaiju under the command of General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). The battle goes awry and Becket watches his brother die as he is connected to his thoughts.

Years later, the Jaeger program has been scrapped and a wall is built to hold off the Kaiju though it is not as effective. The remaining Jaegers are stored at the Shatterdome in Hong Kong. Pentecost recruits Becket to help him save the world with one last plan to blow up the rift.  He introduces him to Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and the other Jaeger pilots including the father-son team Herc (Max Martini) and Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky). Becket also meets the two top scientific Kaiju researchers Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) and Herman Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). Geizler is obsessed with the kaiju even tattooing them on his arm. He has plans to drift with a kaiju while Gottlieb uses mathematics to predict a double event soon. 

Raleigh trains with other potential pilots to find one who is drift compatible. He decides that Mako is the ideal candidate but Pentecost refuses to let her, though he eventually concedes. They test their neural handshake but Raleigh has trouble getting comfortable which makes Mako fall into a memory of when she came face-to-face with a kaiju and Pentecost saved her. Geizler drifts with the kaiju and learns of their plans but the drift is a two-way street. Pentecost sends him to consult with Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman) to obtain a larger kaiju brain. Hannibal abandons just as two kaijus attack. Pentecost does not let Mako and Becket go out to fight the kaiju but sends the other jaegers to take them out. These kaiju have evolved and work together to destory two of the jaegers and incapacitate the Hansens's jaeger with an EMP blast. Mako and Raleigh take their jaeger Gypsy Danger in the coolest fight of the film. 

Geizler survives even as the kaiju directly attacked him and he finds a kaiju baby that eats Hannibal Chau. He drifts with Gottlieb and they discover that the kaiju are sending three more to defend the rift from Pentecost's final attack. Herman breaks his arm in the kaiju attack so Pentecost, who is dying slowly as he constantly bleed from the nose due to radiation sickness, pilots the jaeger with Chuck that will carry the bomb. Pentecost and Chuck have to sacrifice themselves so that they can clear the way for Gypsy Danger to detonate it's nuclear core. The film ends happily with noble sacrifices and a final explosion that destroys the rift.

Pacific Rim was very enjoyable to revisit after the first few times I saw it. I remember being really tired when I saw it in the theater and nearly passing out so I'm kind of bummed that I didn't appreciate that experience. Charlie Hunnam's acting is a distraction but humor from Ron Perlman and Charlie Day and strong acting from Idris Elba help elevate the acting. The action is stunning and I want to watch this film again for the impressive battle scenes. I was worried that they were going to end the franchise before any sequels but now we know that's not the case. 

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