Now Playing: Out on a ‘Rim’

Robots, monsters and Ron Perlman. Oh my. Director Guillermo del Toro gives us the movie that we’ve wanted to see since we were five-years-old. In an action-packed and brilliant visual effects spectacle, we have giant robots fighting vicious monsters on Earth. As a fan of genre films who knows how to tell a great story while mixing in loud and vibrating action sequences, del Toro was the perfect person for this project. ‘Pacific Rim’ moves fast and will keep you on your toes until the very end. While this summer has proved that big budget action movies don’t always go the distance, I’m betting that this one will.

We get almost twenty minutes of prologue before the title ‘Pacific Rim’ pops up on-screen. In the near future, a giant monster that resembles a mix of Godzilla and a dinosaur rises from beneath the ocean and destroys San Francisco. Unfortunately, this giant beast isn’t the only one of its kind. Many more of these monsters, called “Kaiju,” begin popping up all over the globe, wreaking havoc.

Several years pass, and the countries of the world set aside their differences to make “Jaegers,” 30-story fighting robots controlled by two pilots that sit inside the massive metal structures. We meet two Jaeger pilots, the brothers Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff), as they battle a powerful monster near Alaska. The secret to operating a Jaeger is for the two pilots to synch up their brains by way of something called “The Drift,” which completely unlocks the other’s secrets and memories, so that they can use their skill sets together to defeat their foes.

Over time, the Kaiju adapt and get smarter, until they can now take out the Jaegers. The entire Jaeger program is being flushed down the toilet by the people in charge, to be replaced by a giant wall. (Now, if ‘World War Z’ taught us anything, it’s that walls, no matter how tall or reinforced they are, won’t stop zombies, let alone mega monsters.) However, when more and more Kaiju show up, Jaeger commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) finds Raleigh and asks him to be a pilot again in one of the last four remaining Jaegers, in their final attempt to stop these monsters and save the entire planet.

Since an unfortunate accident in an earlier battle, Raleigh doesn’t want to share his mind in the Drift with anyone – until he meets the pretty Japanese girl named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who is not only intelligent, but can hold her own in a fight with any of the guys. The two seem to make a perfect match. Meanwhile, the Jaeger program enlists the help of two scientists to tackle the obstacles of the Kaiju’s origins and why they’re coming to Earth. Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) make up this mad scientist duo and provide a good bit of comic relief as they try to solve the Kaiju mystery. Finally comes Ron Perlman as black market Kaiju organ dealer named Hannibal Chau, who might just be the greatest character invented for the big screen in the past few years. I seriously want a spin-off movie focused on him.

Guillermo del Toro knows how to film big action sequences in such a way that got the whole audience I was with cheering, clapping, laughing and yelling. Whether it be a Jaeger swinging an oil tanker ship like it was a sword, or one of the mega robots ripping out the tongue of a monster, everything is done on an epic scale with a heart-pumping soundtrack. The Kaiju all look very different from one another and seem to have minds of their own. The visual effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, the two main leads, Hunnam and Kikuchi, are one of the biggest downfalls of the movie. While I like these two actors, they both fall completely flat with their surrounding co-stars, and their acting is almost laughable at times. But the film moves so fast and keeps so much else going on that you tend to forget about that problem.

Idris Elba gets a great ‘Independence Day’-style speech, and has a deep dark secret that I want to explore more. Charlie Day is terrific as the comic relief and Burn Gorman is a brilliant mix of Dr. Egon Spangler and Dr. Strangelove.

Among the big action sequences, del Toro does a great job of developing the characters, even if they’re a bit clichéd and silly. For this type of film, it works. This is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and I can’t wait to see it again. A sequel is already in the works, so when Idris Elba yells, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”, take that with a grain of salt.

Don’t forget to stay through the credits for a great little scene.

Rating: ★★★★½


  1. Bryan – what’s your opinion of other similar movies…like, say, the Transformers trilogy, Del Toro’s two Hellboy flicks, or even other movies this summer. I’m trying to put your review in the context of “if you liked ‘x’, you’ll like Pacific Rim.”

    • ‘Pacific Rim’ is basically what the ‘Transformers’ movies COULD’VE BEEN if Michael Bay wasn’t such a cynical misogynist with a terrible sense of humor.

  2. The only thing decent about any of the Michael Bay ‘Transformers’ films was the 5 minute screen-time with Bernie Mac. The rest was terrible on every level.

    I loved both Hellboy Movies, hell I love everything Guillermo says yes to.

    Loved Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel as well. Hated Lone Ranger and wasn’t too happy with After Earth, although I thought it was a small step in the right direction for Shyamalan, considering his past few films.

    I mean, Guillermo made a movie that we’ve all wanted to see since we were five with all the bells and whistles and thrills. It’s so much fun and done very well.

    • Thanks…your response has made it more likely for me to catch this. I just have no desire to see two hours of robots fighting monsters unless there’s a storyline – the quality of effects means nothing to me if I don’t care about what’s going on.

      • It’s definitely worth seeing. The scenes in between the big action sequences are great with and don’t tend to be just filler, but it advances the story. The only somewhat bad thing are the two main characters, which fall flat, but they are surrounded by amazing co-stars.

        And I’m seriously, Ron Perlman is Bruce Campbell-style good in this.

        • im catching it in rpx this afternoon and cant wait. was stoked to see it initially, and with everyone talking bout pearlmans role being epic has got me even more excited.

          i was also secretly hoping for some awesome charlie day scenes too.

  3. Zuria

    As a Del Toro fan, I am excited about his involvement in the adaptation of Monster for HBO. I hope it comes to fruition.

    I can’t wait to watch Pacific Rim this weekend. Thank you for bolstering my excitement with a positive review!

  4. Ryan

    I think the entire concept looks ridiculous. Why would we ever need giant robots to take on these monsters? Why is punching a monster doing something that a huge missile couldn’t?

    That being said, I love most of Del Toro’s work and would really be happy if this movie is more than what it seems on the surface (something a 14 year old boy wrote because it’s “cool”). It’s just that none of the trailers or reviews have done much to make me think otherwise.

    You say he does a good job developing the characters…but then say they are cliche and silly. Is there more to this movie? Or is it really just something you need to turn off your brain, except the silly concept, and sit back and enjoy the spectacle? I can do that in some cases, but I doubt I’ll be able to for this one if that’s the case.

    This movie is set to bomb big time in the US…so unless it does gangbusters overseas, you won’t be getting that sequel.

    • Further, assuming that we really did need to build giant robots to fight these giant monsters, would we really put two live pilots inside them? We don’t even let real pilots fly air strikes anymore. These things would be drones, remote-piloted by teams of people in a bunker thousands of miles away.

      • Ryan

        Are the pilots actually inside the robots? Or in a remote location? I assumed remote….but now you have me wondering.

        • The two pilots are inside the head of big bots. It’s briefly explained in the intro why humans are needed to man them and why they require two pilots and not just one.

  5. Bryan, your review is spot-on. I went in a skeptic, assuming that it would be decent at best, but had a blast. Love it. It’s one of the most satisfying movies of the summer (so far). Even if you’re a naysayer, which I was, you should give it a shot. It’s like Godzilla meets Cloverfield meets Independence Day – super fun!

    • as i was watching it this afternoon, during the prologue in san fran i was thinking to myself this could be a continuation of cloverfield.

      its reaching i know, but cloverfield was essentially covered up by the government, and the monster very well could have dove back in the water and resurfaced in san fran ripped shit up and started the whole shebang.

      i really really hated jax teller as the lead though. hes typecast as that character to me.

  6. Mr Apollo

    Growing up watching Godzilla movies, and other big creature/ robot movies, I thought that Pacific Rim was FUCKING AWESOME!!! Obviously the reality of it is dumb. But aren’t all movies? We’re supposed to watch movies with suspension of disbelief and enjoy ourselves. Movies are supposed to take us away from the reality of life. GDT directed the movie extremely well. Some of the blocking shots were the best I’ve ever seen. The sheer scope was amazing in and of itself.

    I saw the movie at an XD theater in 3d. I don’t like 3d. Actually, I can’t STAND 3d, (Josh knows this because I wrote the “I HATE 3d” rant when Avatar came out), but this was the first time I went into a movie actually wanting to see it in 3d. It’s only the 2nd time I’ve ever seen a 3d movie that didn’t bother me (the other being “The Hobbit” at 48fps). I was immersed right away into Pacific Rim. No problems with it at all. The 3d was done properly right I thought. They knew how to focus the shots and objects/people that actually needed to be in focus which has always been one of the big problems with it. I wasn’t drawn out for the viewing experience like I have been with every other 3d movie I’ve seen. This is the type of big tent pole movie that Hollywood should be utilizing 3d for. Something that is visually so big it has to be done only in this format. You could really feel the scope of the world which was awesome. But I was watching on a rather large screen too. I loved the fact that I’d have to move my head up at times just to see things. That’s how big it felt.

    Now, dont’ get me wrong. I love movies that are based on true events or when reality is as true as it can be, but the majority of movies that come out want us to believe in something that’s bigger than life. I LOVE No Country for Old Men, Saving Private Ryan and so forth, but I also LOVE movies that have not much in the realms of reality (ah thank you!). This movie is visually stunning, the cgi is amazing, the scope is crazy, the acting… well it had a strong supporting cast but I felt that the characters didn’t have too much time to develop because they had to cram a lot into the movie. Idris Elba’s character was definitely inspired by Master Chief from the Halo franchise and that’s something that definitely needs to be delved into.

    Overall I was very excited with the end product and recommend it for people who just want to have fun. I think that Iron Man 3 is a piece of crap but that wouldn’t stop me from watching the next one because I love movies and I love watching them. If you like, over the top action, acting, cgi, anime, monsters/ robots then do yourself a favor and check it out or this will be the last time that something this creative with a mega budget will ever come out. The weight and future of all things creative in Hollywood’s history are literally resting on GDT’s and Pacific Rim’s shoulders.

    • Ryan

      “Obviously the reality of it is dumb. But aren’t all movies? We’re supposed to watch movies with suspension of disbelief and enjoy ourselves.”

      No, all movies are NOT dumb. Haven’t seen this one yet, but based on the trailers, it seems like it’s too much suspension for someone like me….I plan to give it a chance though!

  7. Kraig McGann

    It is obviously a mash up of ID4 and TRANSFORMERS, but I don’t think it is better than either. It certainly has eye candy, but only played well to the my inner 13 year old. I had a tough time buying the little helicopters transporting the massive robots. It also did not need the image of obama or the global warning blather.

  8. Awesome pure escapist fun. Best summer movie so far, my biggest complaint is that I wanted more. The 3D was amazing. I’ve been waiting since I was about seven years old to see this type of movie done on a big scale with high production value. I’m not ashamed to say that I am 36 and loved this movie and movies like it. I hope it does well so I can see more giant robots fighting giant monsters.

    • Zuria

      Csm101 Don’t be ashamed! I am 45, and as a mecha, Godzilla and anime fan, I think this film is fantastic. Definitely did not feel the 2.5 hours. Hopefully the numbers will exceed expectation, and convince Warner to green light a sequel.

  9. William Henley

    I got to see this at a Cine Capri (basically an extra large screen – except that they refuse to play 3D on them) in Dolby Atmos. MAN, did the Atmos really add to this movie!

    I think the best way to describe this movie is that someone took Neon Genesis Evengalion, Americanized it, and made it live action – but in a good way. It’s not like the crap that American television has TRIED to do in the past:

    I was actually really surprised with how much I LOVED this movie. My friend I went with HATED it probably to the same extent that I loved it. I mean, what is not to love? Giant Robots, Monsters, an ACTUAL GOOD STORY (once again, practically stolen from Neon Genesis Evangelion with just a few changes to make it their own – ie TWO pilots), great special effects.

    I came out of the theater saying it was the best movie I have seen this year!