Pacific Rim (2013) Movie Review

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim (2013) Movie Image

Watching the first 10 or so minutes of Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim”, the 12-year old in me went “Squeeeeeeeeeee” and suddenly I knew what it was like to be one of those teenage “Twilight” fans as they watched Bella kissing Edward while the werewolf kid with no shirt looked o. But then something strange happened. The film kept going, and something resembling a “plot” kicked in, and suddenly I wasn’t so enamored with “Pacific Rim” like I had been, oh, 20 minutes earlier. In fact, I became downright annoyed with the movie and director Guillermo del Toro, as I couldn’t quite figure out why he was letting a cliche-ridden, brain dead script by Travis Beacham ruin the movie the 12-year old in me had been waiting his entire life for.

Stitched together with narrative plot points and whole scenes liberally lifted from films like “Top Gun”, “Independence Day”, “Transformers” and (for God’s sake) even Michael Bay’s “Armageddon”, “Pacific Rim” is every geek’s fantasy come true … gone horribly wrong. There are giant robots fighting giant monsters, dammit! How could you possibly mess that up? Unfortunately I’m not a 12-year old kid anymore, and I’m no longer immune to clunky acting, simplistic character “development”, and the ol “we’re going to drop a nuke into it in order to stop it” type of advance plotting. Del Toro even chickens out with the ending. It’s like he said to the studio, “Okay, guys, thanks for giving me $190 million to make the Kaiju movie I’ve always wanted to make, and now I’m paying you back with this crowdpleaser ending even though the filmmaker in me knows it’s utter crap!”

Pacific Rim (2013) Movie Image

“Sons of Anarchy’s” Charlie Hunnam gets his best chance to become a movie star in “Pacific Rim” (he’s had a couple of at-bats, but they’ve all been back-to-pitcher bunts so far), here playing Raleigh Becket, a hotshot Jaegar (giant robot) pilot who, along with his brother, are the last line of defense when giant monsters start appearing through a dimensional rift/portal/hole in the Pacific Ocean. Called Kaiju, the monsters wreak havoc on mankind, destroying whole cities as giant monsters in sci-fi films are wont to do. (In case you’re wondering, yes, there is an explanation for the Kaiju. Well, a dumbass explanation, but an “explanation” nonetheless.) Alas, after Raleigh’s brother is killed (it takes two pilots to control these giant robots), ol Raleigh sort of disappears. That is, until a Jaegar pilot-strapped Stacker Pentecost (cool name, bro) played by Idris Elba shows up to recruit him back into the fight.

It seems in the 5 years since Raleigh ran off with his tail tucked between his legs, the war is going badly for humanity. Pentecost, who runs the Jaegar program, has just gotten the order to shut down, with all of the world’s population moving behind massive walls for protection. Which seems like kind of a bad idea since the Kaiju just sort of walk through these walls like they’re not even there. Great plan, guys. Pentecost, though, is making one last ditch effort to save the world and it involves — you guessed it — the ol “we’re going to drop a nuke into it in order to stop it” plan. Which makes you wonder: if giant monsters are coming through holes in the ocean, why aren’t there a bunch of submarines down there just waiting to blast them when they show up? Or battlecruisers on top? Or B52s just circling in the air waiting to drop huge payloads? But whatever. Look, giant shiny robots fighting giant monsters!

Pacific Rim (2013) Movie Image

As the lead, Hunnam is flat and uninteresting, despite the fact that Raleigh swaggers everywhere onscreen. For a guy who has been working construction earning a menial living for the last 5 years, you wonder what he’s got to swagger about. Elba and Max Martini do the best they can, and Elba almost rises above what he’s given. Almost. There are whole chunks of the second half when I actually forgot Rinko Kikuchi is in it. She has that little to do. “Pacific Rim” benefits greatly from having Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the comic relief. The duo play bickering mad scientists trying to discover the Kaiju’s evil master plan. Day is hilarious and his scenes with familiar Del Toro muse Ron Perlman are a riot.

I should like “Pacific Rim” a whole lot, and there are times when I actually do. The robot-monster fights are ridiculous, in an enjoyable, over-the-top way. I knew they would be, and they were. Without a doubt, the film really comes through on that front. Hilariously, the Jaegars do just as much damage as the monsters, and it seems like the Kaiju only attack when it’s dark and raining. (They must be big fans of mood, I guess.) And while it’s almost impossible to tell what the hell is going on in the final underwater fight sequence, there’s something so primal about giant robots fighting giant monsters in a $190 million dollar movie that makes me absolutely giddy. Just for that, I’m almost inclined to forgive the film’s many failings. Almost.

Guillermo del Toro (director) / Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro (screenplay)
CAST: Charlie Hunnam … Raleigh Becket
Idris Elba … Stacker Pentecost
Rinko Kikuchi … Mako Mori
Charlie Day … Dr. Newton Geiszler
Burn Gorman … Gottlieb
Max Martini … Herc Hansen
Robert Kazinsky … Chuck Hansen
Clifton Collins Jr. … Ops Tendo Choi
Ron Perlman … Hannibal Chau

Buy Pacific Rim on DVD or Blu-ray



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • Aegon the Conqueror

    I knew this was gonna be a bomb, frankly the premise is perfect for a short anime film, not so much for a feature length film. Give Del Toro a budget and his horrible, keep it under 50 million and it’s incredible. Thank all things holy he dropped out of the Hobbit!

  • Hobo Ninja

    First off, Idris Elba is awesome. Every role he plays, he owns. That being said, I loved the movie. Plan to see it again on IMAX 3D. And Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chow was my fav character. I want those shoes. I even liked this YouTube parody of it too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeGWMcYa4C8

    • Arthur

      Agree! Idris Elba was at the top of his game and Ron Perlman was a delight; as he always is. Had a blast watching “Pacific Rim” at the theater.

  • ErickKwon

    Have to politely disagree since in my case, the inner 12 year-old stuck his fingers into his ears and went “LAH-LAH-LAH-LAH-LAH-LAH-LAH!” whenever the grown-up side tried to speak up when he thought something was off, so eventually that tween bastard won. I loved this movie, easily my favorite of the year. Sure, a lot of it has to do with the anime and tokusatsu (Japanese live-action sci-fi) that I’ve been exposed to but at the end of the day, it totally worked for me. I would agree the ending kind of copped out, but this is still an American blockbuster and it wasn’t as though the good guys completely got out free and clear.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      I like how the other robots are controlled by people from countries that the movie probably hopes it will do well in. China, Russia, etc. Then Australia, for some reason.

      • ErickKwon

        Could explain why viral marketing included Japan’s Coyote Tango but it wasn’t actually in the movie. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this movie’s success in Japan is a given… for reasons that I can’t put my finger on. And I definitely wish the Chinese and Russian teams had a little more screen time. As it is, the only takeway I have of them is China: Jeremy Lin Triplets and Russia: Him-and-Her Ivan Drago’s

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          Yup, they couldn’t even shut down the cliche machine when it comes to the the Jaegar pilots. The cocky American, THREE male Chinese (cause, you know, they love their boys over there, and there are LOTS of them), and the steroid-looking Russians. I had to chuckle when I saw them.

  • Rob

    I loved the movie from start to finish. It is what it is, and it does it well. The visuals are stunning. Yes, it’s cliche, yes not much character development but the boy in me just loved it. I think sometimes critics watch films differently to the rest of us. Not a critism, just an observtion that you should always take what they say with a pinch of salt.

  • Arthur

    Don’t pay attention to the negative reviews of this film. Yes, Guillermo Del Toro is “tamed” in this film compared to “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, “Mama” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”, but the film is an absolute blast and a very fun summer film to boot. No, it’s not “Cloverfield”, “Super 8″, “Troll Hunter” or “The Host” (2006). Think of it in the terms of Japan’s “Long and Dark-Haired Monster Geharha” but with a bigger budget, more memorable characters, epic fight scenes AND Ron Perlman. The haunting dream sequence of Mako is right out of Shusuke Kaneko’s “Gamera: Awakening of Iris”; little details like this are very crucial. “Pacific Rim” is shades better than Roland Emmerich’s “Godzilla” (1998) for sure. Fellas, take your sons to see “Pacific Rim”, they will love it; mine did. This one will be a blu-ray essential purchase! Just a straight-out fun summer film for the boys. Period!

  • candicedfrederick

    that’s unfortunate to hear charlie hunnam (who i think is great on sons of anarchy) is not good on this.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com Todd

    Really enjoyed this flick. The dark and stormy monster attacks were a little irritating, but overall I was enthralled from start to finish. Easily one of my favorites of the summer thus far.

  • venomAA

    This is the best summer action movie at this moment. It not only did kick kaiju’s asses but also MOS ass. Ignore the reviews, this an 70′s otaku dream come to life. I enjoyed at it best. Cheesy plot, check. Big monster’s with special moves. check. Special moves with goofy names, check!. How can someone that loved Mazinger Z not love this movie. I would pay for a sequel if they added a robot chick with missiles coming out of her chest.

  • JaRoK

    Cloverfield was better, this movie disappointed me, although I had huge aspirations for it. It ended up being fairly average. Terrible ending. Needed more fight scenes. Not enough city destruction either. Pretty sure every preview trailer on this film showed all the fighting scenes summed up in total. Kinda ruined it. I’m praying Legendarys’ Godzilla will put a better product than Pacific Rim.

    • JackCrow

      Godzilla parallel is what sums it up. Pacific Rim is all flash no essence.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    Well looks like the film is getting a lil love! Cult classic anyone?