You can listen to the podcast review of PACIFIC RIM directly here or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes. For a more. extended discussion of the movie with two guys who actually know something about mecha anime head to the Vassals of Kingsgrave
Sea monsters versus robots? No thanks. A cross-dimensional portal has opened up in the pacific allowing big fact Kaiju beasties to plunder San Francisco and Tokyo, and humans have created big dual-piloted mega-machines called Jaegers to fight them? Puh-lease! At least, until I heard this flick was being directed by Guillermo del Toro - of PAN'S LABYRINTH and HELLBOY fame. That guy has such an intelligent, humorous, inventive take on fantasy that I couldn't help but be intrigued. And he has driven this movie to a higher level. The CGI rendering of the massive cylon-style robots is amazing, and leagues beyond anything in TRANSFORMERS, and the action sequences played mostly at night and in driving rain are stunning....until they become boring.
Where we see del Toro really at his finest is in his inventive rendering of black market Hong Kong - full of all the awe and wonder of the Hellboy hidden market, and presided over by a majestic Ron Perlmen as black marketeer, Mr Chau. Here we get a taste of geek fanboy Toro, as embodied by Charlie Day as the "kaiju groupie" researcher tasked with getting a monster brain. He's the kind of guy who says he can't tell you the secret because it's classified and the proceeds to tell you anyways, because it's so unbelievably cool! Sadly, it's all too brief.
In fact, it's sad to say that the comic relief side-kick characters are far more interesting than the rather bland, buff protagonists. Our hero Raleigh is played by Charlie Hunnam as a caring pretty boy with a dodgy American accent. He's almost as unremarkable as Robert Kazinsky as his douchey pretty boy antagonist with a dodgy Australian accent. When the Jaeger pilots get into a punch up over a girl it's like you've transgressed to 1980s teen action flicks like KARATE KID and TOP GUN and not in a good way. To be fair, the female lead, a girl called Mako played by Rinki Kikuchi (BABEL), is more interesting insofar as del Toro doesn't ask her to get her kit off and she can clearly handle herself. That doesn't stop all the male characters infantilising her though, although at least Stacker Pentecost (the majestic Idris Elba) has the excuse that it's part of their character arc.
All of which speaks to the touchy feel hippie politics at the heart of this movie. When the alien beasties attack, mankind defeats them by coming together and working together and helping each other through our angst. Awww! Still, it makes a really nice change from all that dark, angsty Christopher Nolan emo stuff that weighed down MAN OF STEEL it's probably plunged to the bottom of PACIFIC RIM along with del Toro's sense of credible dialogue. Really the only reason to see this film is Idris Elba who is so stupendously badass that he actually lives up to his ridiculous character name. If the aliens ever come, I'm going to call Idris to lead a rag-tag band of rebels against it. If they even tug on his jacket, he's going to nail them to the wall.
PACIFIC RIM is on global release. It has a running time of 131 minutes and is rated PG-13 in the USA and 12A in the UK.