4.5 out of 5
That new born baby kaiju looks like the pig from Angry Birds! Guillermo Del Toro does mecha sci-fi. Halelujah to that. Pacific Rim is a resonance to what many 90’s Asian teenagers watched when they were growing up; Neon Genesis Evangelion, Macross, Gundam Wing, even Magic Knight Rayearth. Stories about humans riding giant mechas and fighting ginormously ugly monsters. Del Toro does it with a twist, though.
In the near future a portal to a strange dimension mysteriously opens deep inside the Pacific ocean, causing monsters called ‘kaiju’ (which means monster in Japanese and Chinese 怪獸) to appear and attack Earth. The only way to fight them is by creating massive mechas called ‘jaeger’, you know the whole drill. What Del Toro does with the film is that he turns it into a balanced action feast for the eyes and well-written drama for the heart. Despite the maginificent settings, Pacific Rim is a story of human relationships. Be it father and son, teacher and student, siblings, lovers, and the entire human race. Since each jaeger can only be controlled by 2 people who are perfect match mentally, most of the times only siblings or parent-child combo can pilot the mecha. Raleigh Beckett who is a veteran pilot, until his brother died in a combat, is looking for a new co-pilot. The seemingly perfect candidate is Mako, who excels in every single training, but still emotionally unstable. The problem is 2 unrelated people make it difficult to create the perfect mental connection, which is where the heart of the story lies.
The strength of this Mexican-directed film is that there is a balanced story between each character. Each of the characters is well exposed in term of their skills and contributions to the story, along with their own unique personalities. As usual, every Del Toro film needs a strong little girl. In Pacific Rim it is represented by Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). To me Mako has the charm of little Aurora from Cronos, Del Toro’s first feature film, and the resilience of Liz from Hellboy. Throughout the story Mako’s relationship with Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame) develops into a love without romance. A relationship that transcends any traditional definition of love, a love where 2 people unite perfectly inside every fibre of their mind. Idris Elba plays Marshall Pentecost, the charismatic leader of the defence force, as well as Mako’s adopted father. Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia plays Newton, a hispter scientist who finds a way to link human brain with kaiju’s. Burn Gorman of The Hours plays Newton’s skeptical counterpart, Hermann. The 2 provide comical element to the story as the dysfunctional scientists duo. Ron Perlman always steals the scene in Del Toro’s films. Here he plays flamboyant Hannibal Chau, a self-made black market billionaire who sells kaiju body parts.
Pacific Rim is fantastic, but it’s not perfect. I’m a bit disappointed that there is no elaborate explanation on the other jaegers. Come on, if Del Toro wants to make a film for mecha-maniacs out there, he should’ve provide a detailed description about each jaeger and its pilots. The second is…. the jaegers don’t kick! They only punch. I’m wondering had they were able to kick, would it turn the table on them? Third… there is no Doug Jones playing eerie creepy creature. What is a Del Toro film without Ron Perlman-Doug Jones combo? So, I’m sorry, Señor Del Toro. You’re one of my favourite directors, but these 3 elements make me couldn’t give you 1/2 point more. Don’t hate me for that.