In a world where Gundam, Evangellion and Code Geass exist it’s somewhat weird to me that the US has never done this idea before. They’ve mined almost every other port of popular culture over the last century of cinema why not Japan? Maybe it’s due to the ever more present importance of the Asian markets in the financial return of the film. Having had to create differing cuts to appease those markets as well as even having a number of films co-produced with Asian film companies to allow for the insertion into those markets quicker. All I know is that I got a big ass mech vs. alien/sea creature monster film and it was awesome.
Pacific Rim is the epitome of “summer blockbuster” in my mind at this point. There are so many things that can go wrong, so many things that are probably wrong, but the film so gosh darn entertaining that I can’t help but ignore those things.
Guillermo Del Toro finds ways to take caution to the wind and throw entertainment on screen in big doses. When it comes to action set pieces this film delivers. While the opening scene, which serves only as back-story and general reasons as to why it takes so long for Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) to return to the Jaeger game, is fluff for the film and even in the moment felt unnecessary as opposed to just being retro-actively less awesome than the other greater action sequences. Otherwise though the action set pieces of Kaiju vs. Jaegers are so grand and wonderfully constructed that they aren’t just Saturday morning anime action that your thirteen-year old sons, nephews and cousins would love but are genuinely exciting.
This film resides primarily in the land of camp. It shifts from general action goodness to silly really easily with the right characters. With the likes of Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) who exist as the scientific efforts of the military. They almost feel solely existing to dispute heavies (i.e. the strong army people) and create strategy, theorems, plans and such based on ideas that they themselves don’t understand until the exact moment they do — just like the writers — only to eventually change their mind in how we understand our enemies at the very end because of a new epiphany. This would be problematic in any other film, but somehow it doesn’t perturb as much here.
It becomes even better when Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman) — who named himself after his favourite fictional character and his favourite food spot in Brooklyn — enters the film. If you thought the doctors were crazy weird enough Ron Perlman has always been a crazy character actor that while we don’t ever expect to be delivering Academy performances, he happens to deliver it all perfectly in every film. It applies the same here. I adore his voice as the crazed underworld kingpin that he plays here and when he interacts with Charlie Day it just works. I almost wish we could get a web-series of those two just playing off one another and existing as Kaiju nerds going crazy.
Otherwise on the character fun run comes the likes of Stacker (Idris Elba) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). While both play action archetypes: Stacker being the strong commander that seems dry but has more emotion than he leads on; and Mako being the strong-willed soldier that when released has a lot to offer our already assumed protagonist (Raleigh); they still give the film a lot. I like especially how Mako basically defines both Stacker and Raleigh (post introduction scene); she serves as what pushes them to be bigger and better in the Kaiju war that they are attempting to survive. What would be boring and lifeless ends up working not because it’s any different than the other twenty times we’ve seen it this summer, but rather because there are enough other elements (see above paragraphs; and big bot action) that it keeps the world familiar enough that the other elements don’t come off as overly weird.
PS. when that sword came out… Jaw on ground!