Even before the dawn of time, man has had an inherent fear of the beasts that can crush a man to jelly, topple the mightiest of structures, and prove that no matter how big of a Hummer you have there will always be something out there bigger than them.
In what is this year’s only truly original blockbuster so far, Pacific Rim, where giant monsters are beaten up by equally proportioned robots, not only is that cowardice diminished but, like the zombie apocalypse before it, evolved into a welcome challenge. Bring it on, Godzilla, and bring your kids. Let them see what a wuss their dad is.
As said before, Pacific Rim is a charming, age-old tale of Earth being attacked by giant monsters (Kaijus) from another dimension. Soon, after many draining attempts to bring them down, the world decides there is only one way to quell this crisis: Build equally giant robots (Jaegers) to meet them head on and pummel them into oblivion. Next time I see a huge spider, I’m gonna create a contraption that shoots little fireballs at it
But before you dismiss this as just a Transformers meets Godzilla rip-off, let me inform you on why this is far superior to the cut-rate former. First off, the movie is far prettier than anything Michael Bay could imagine on even the strongest hallucinogenics. Everything from the demolished cities to the monsters and robots themselves are done with such precise detail. Each mechanized war machine is distinguishable and unique to their operators, and therefore each other. The monsters, each a demented, Hell version of creatures we know on Earth, all have their own vicious characteristics that emphasize their formidability and just all around badassness. This makes it easy to know who is fighting who and where they are amongst the ruins of the modern world. All made more helpful considering the fact that all of the major action sequences are done at night—a flaw to those who are planning to view it in 3D or just want plenty of light.
Not only does director Guillermo Del Toro honor the immaculate designs, utilizing proper space and close-ups when necessary, he is also able to inject the proper amount of fun into each scene, which is quite a lot indeed. The action is not overly fast-paced or inappropriately brief; it’s juuust right. Whether it’s an underwater climax, or a fight well above Earths atmosphere, he understood the creatures are big, and therefore hard to take down, so each battle needed to be treated with the proper space while being racked with big, explosive thuds and booms with the occasional suspense. He honors space and time while remembering that this is a movie about robots beating up monsters.
But this isn’t just 2 hours of mindless, giddy violence. There is an underlying story about the world putting aside its horrid pasts and coming together to fight a common foe. Nations from England to America, to Japan to Russia are represented (clearly no one invited Canada). Many of the characters have illustrated pasts, doubts, fears, and behaviors that link them together to make the point of global cooperation valid. But, who cares, right? Robots!
Despite the smart-ass comment, the actual care for character development is admirable. There’s nothing incredibly deep to distinguish it as a masterpiece amongst summer blockbusters, but there is enough for the audience to actually care and fight something enjoyable when a robot is chopping off a monsters Pterodactyl wing, with a massive sword, plummeting down to Earth.
To analyze this movie any further would go against the point. Here is a movie all about providing above-grade spectacle without leaving the audience all the dumber. Del Toro has proved he can do big budget with an imaginative, impeccably designed and constantly fun eye-bulger. Who would’ve thought the one thing that would unite the world would be a global fear of over-grown lizards and a shared desire to build massive war machines with chest cannons?