Pacific Rim (2013)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 7/21/13
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, cameo by Ron Perlman

"Dedicated to the memory of Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda."

Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Then take a deep breath...

"Pacific Rim" is a masterpiece of sci-fi fantasy fandom and a love letter to all of the anime and kaiju films that you watched as a youngster. A teenage geek's wet dream, as it were. Its presentation is genuine and sincere, and its solemn reverence is moving and awe-inspiring. It's just unfortunate that the trailers are so poor, as they don't even come close to representing the level of awesomeness that the film contains, and will likely keep it from finding a wider audience. I initially had no interest in the film, but strong word of mouth and director Guillermo del Toro's winning track record made me change my mind. And boy am I glad that I did, because it's an amazing ride.

The plot is overly simple and cliché - giant monsters invade Earth, and the governments of the world respond by assembling a group of giant combat mechs (Jaegers) to deal with the increasing threat. At first, the Jaegers are successful in repelling the invaders, but the kaiju continue to return, each one deadlier and more dangerous than the previous one. Eventually, the Jaeger initiative is abandoned, which turns the remaining crews into a last ditch resistance force led by Marshall Stacker Pentecost (super cool Idris Elba). He recruits a former Jaeger pilot named Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) to help him with a daring plan to seal the rift to the kaiju's realm, and the requisite angst and drama follows suit.

Really, what more can be said about a film that's all about giant monsters and robots beating the living hell out of each other and the wholesale destruction of the world's most populous cities? This is an extremely effects heavy film, and it looks absolutely marvelous. Every dollar spent is up there on the screen and it's stunning. The combat scenes are spectacularly realized and highly stylized for maximum emotional impact. It's literally like watching a live action anime show. Unfortunately, Charlie Hunnam is incredibly weak as the lead character, but the supporting cast is wonderful, and Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi end up driving the majority of the film. They are super cool and simply delightful to watch. Some of the other characters are played for laughs, and while they can be annoying, their eccentricities are acceptable within the framework of the film. The soundtrack is bold and serviceable, but not particularly memorable. I'm very curious to see how the film fares in Japan, as it's a gushing tribute to Japanese cinema and borrows nearly everything from their culture.

If that means anything at all to you, then go see it. Now.