MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Charlie Hunnam as RALEIGH BECKET
Idris Elba as STACKER PENTECOST
Rinko Kikuchi as MAKO MORI
Charlie Day as DR. NEWTON GEISZLER
Burn Gorman as GOTTLIEB
Max Martini as HERC HANSEN
Robert Kazinsky as CHUCK HANSEN
Clifton Collins Jr. as TENDO CHOI
Ron Perlman as HANNIBAL CHAU
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
BY KEVIN CARR
There are some reviewers and cinemaphiles out there who will tell you that it’s invalid to love a movie simply based on its raw entertainment value. I’ve been told that for a movie to be really good, it has to be deep and thoughtful, doing more than just igniting the fire of the twelve-year-old boy in your psyche.
Those are the kind of people who need to see “Pacific Rim.” Because it’s one of the most entertaining movies made this year.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film in the theaters this summer, and revisiting it on Blu-ray makes me enjoy it even more.
The film take place in the not-too-distant future, in which giant monsters known as Kaiju have emerged from a rift in the ocean to attack the major cities. Countries put their differences aside to built massive robots known as Jaegers to battle the Kaiju at their own level. Humanity is years into the Kaiju war, which they were once winning, but the creatures have not stopped coming across the rift, and the battle-fatigued Jaeger program is struggling to keep them at bay.
Of course, with Guillermo del Toro behind the film, “Pacific Rim” really isn’t just about giant robots fighting giant monsters. Sure, it’s a love letter to the kaiju movies of Japan, which include monsters like Godzilla and Gamera. There actually is a lot of depth in this film, especially when it comes to production design and the mythology behind the Kaiju themselves. So while “Pacific Rim” is a rip-roaring good time, it’s got quite a few layers in it for the more intellectually-minded.
But you cannot discount the raw entertainment power of “Pacific Rim.” It takes about half the movie to get to the real meat of the battles. Time is not lost with this set-up, offering some smaller action moments and somewhat stock character development. However, it all works in the context of the film. I prefer not to see the characters as cliches from an action movie, but more an homage to movies from the 70s, 80s and 90s which feature would-be enemies coming together in a close-quarters program (such as summer camp or high school) and working to defeat a major threat.
The main characters are fine in the film, but it was the supporting cast that won my affection. Ron Perlman plays the bizarre crime boss Hannibal Chau, and it’s Charlie Day who steals most of his scenes as the off-kilter and zealous Kaiju biologist. Finally, Idris Elba almost takes away the hero moments from lead Charlie Hunnam simply with his special brand of British badassery, helping make this a testosterone-infused film.
But let’s get back to the monsters versus robots. Here’s the money shot of the entire film. These battles are breathtaking to watch, filled with action and offering some of the most vivid and spectacular production design I’ve seen all year. Unlike some action movies that obscure much of the goods with shadows and shakycam, you can see everything in the “Pacific Rim” battles… and they go on for a good amount of time. Sure, they may take place in the rain and the dark, but they still look amazing.
There are silly logic moments, like bizarre choices of weapons in the Jaeger and certain elements of stupidity by the characters to further the need of a cool action moment, but these are mostly forgivable in the awesome context of the film.
The Blu-ray presentation is beautiful, getting the contrast of the picture perfect so it still pops on the home high-def screen. It also features an impressive amount of special features, including an audio commentary, multiple Focus Points featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel on the main feature disc. An additional bonus disc includes “The Director’s Notebook,” which is an interactive look behind the scenes of the film with concept art, translated text from del Toro’s notes and video spots giving further insight in the development of the film.