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In the midst of a summer jam-packed with sequels, prequels, reboots and adaptations, moviegoers are FINALLY treated to an original story that meets all the criteria of a blockbuster. Based on a story by Travis Beacham, visionary writer/director/producer and Oscar® nominee Guillermo del Toro takes us on a journey of epic proportions with “Pacific Rim,” and while some may think this story has been done before, think again. By taking the typical giant-monster movie genre we have become familiar with in films like “Cloverfield” or “Super 8,” and blending it with the firepower of a film like “Transformers,” audiences are treated to a movie of ridiculous magnitude. And like 2007’s “Transformers,” del Toro is raising the bar on special effects, surround sound and action sequences, providing a completely immersive experience. To put it simply, “Pacific Rim” is precisely what IMAX was made for.
Deep in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, a portal to another dimension has opened, releasing ginormous creatures known as Kaiju. These monsters begin attacking coastal cities surrounding the Pacific Rim, killing millions of innocent victims and causing irreparable amounts of destruction. After several attacks, the world finally realizes one thing: this war was not going to stop, and we have to design monsters of our own. And so the Jaeger Program was born, a global effort to design robots the size of skyscrapers to battle the beasts head on. These Jaegers are piloted by two people, their brains connected together in a neurological state known as “The Drift.” This connection allows the pilots to share their memories, their feelings, and their instincts to fight and ultimately destroy the Kaiju and save mankind. But the enemy continues to grow stronger, and each new Kaiju attack is more threatening than the last. Jaegers begin to fail, cities are wiped out. And after nearly a decade of fighting, the world begins to abandon the Jaeger Program and focus their efforts on building a colossal wall to protect the cities. But the commander behind the Jaeger Program wants to give it one last shot, and attempt to end the war forever.
“Pacific Rim” brings together an ensemble of actors and actresses, many of which make their home on TV. The main character Raleigh Becket is played by Charlie Hunnam (FX’s “Sons Of Anarchy”), a Jaeger pilot who leaves the program after a personal loss. But he is recruited to come back by Commander Pentecost, played by Idris Elba (BBC’s “Luther,” “Thor”). Also working in the program as a hopeful pilot and assistant to Pentecost is Oscar® nominee Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel), a girl whose deep backstory with the Kaiju drives her to prove herself. In the research division we have two very different scientists, played comedically by Charlie Day (FX’s “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) and Burn Gorman (“The Dark Knight Rises”). These two add a significant amount of humor to the story while also driving the main subplot. The film also features performances by Max Martini, Clifton Collins Jr., Robert Kazinsky, Diego Klattenhoff, and lastly, Ron Perlman. Perlman has previously collaborated with Guillermo del Toro on the “Hellboy” series, as well as co-starring with Hunnam in “Sons Of Anarchy.”
What truly drives the story of “Pacific Rim” are the incredibly detailed and enormous environments, combined with the fight scenes created on a scale bigger than anyone has ever seen. Each new location, the introduction of a Jaeger, or a fight with a Kaiju just left me smiling. This is the type of movie that makes you feel like a kid playing with robots and monster toys, except your imagination is actually coming to life on the big screen. And while destruction may seem to be the go-to theme for most summer blockbusters, “Pacific Rim” manages to destroy a whole Hell of a lot without making you feel like your intelligence has been insulted in the process. This is an issue I feel has been a problem lately in movies, resorting to demolishing entire city blocks with little regard for human life. But the somewhat campy and video game-esque feel of “Pacific Rim” makes this type of wreckage seem comical and appropriate, unlike other recent movies that do it for shock value.
Overall, “Pacific Rim” is an awesome ride. I went in expecting to be entertained and left feeling exactly that way. Is it meant to be a Best Picture nominee? Absolutely not. Is it devoid of slightly cheesy humor and stereotypical war speeches? Nope. This is a film made for summer moviegoers, simple enough. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle. And make sure to check it out in IMAX 3D. The visuals and sound effects alone are worth the price of admission.