Anthony's Film Review
Pacific Rim (2013)
A science-fiction movie that includes as much story and imagination as action...
A movie featuring giant robots versus giant monsters could easily be made into a B-movie that mainstream movie lovers might dismiss as worthless and forgettable. But whoever wrote the script for Pacific Rim treated this idea with great care. The result is not a film where the backstories of the colossal fighters and the settings are amateurishly conceived, the characters are cardboard, and the humans who are unlucky enough to get caught in the melee are forgotten. Instead, Pacific Rim features a fascinating backstory and imaginative backdrop, characters who are close to realistic, and humans who are unlucky enough to be up close with giant fighters but are people we care about.
The prologue of this movie already does a great job explaining the origin of the robots and monsters. For one thing, the situation involves an alien invasion, not from outer space but from inner Earth. The giant monsters, referred to as the Kaiju (the Japanese word for "giant beast"), teleport from their world into ours through a portal between tectonic plates along the rim of the Pacific Ocean. In response, people around the world come together and build giant robots, each one called a Jager (the German word for "hunter"), to fight the Kaiju. The Jagers do successfully defeat the Kaiju as they appear, so much so that that Jager pilots are celebrated as true heroes.
Now fast-forward five years. There is an effort to build a continuous wall along the edge of the Pacific Ocean in hopes of holding off all Kaiju. But one Kaiju breaches the wall near the Sydney Opera House in Australia, making people realize that Jagers are needed after all, even if their battles with Kaiju result in massive collateral damage. Furthermore, there is one frightening prospect. It is predicted that the Kaiju will eventually come into our world in greater numbers at faster rates, which, combined with their ability to adjust their fighting methods, will surely spell the end of mankind. The only way to win is to drop a nuclear bomb into the interdimensional breach and permanently destroy the connection.
There are really just three action scenes in this movie: one immediately after the prologue to introduce the action, one leading up to the climax, and one during the climax itself. There is no need for me to go into detail about how great the special effects are, because it's practically Hollywood standard these days. Just know that they will surely satisfy those who enjoy the live-action Transformers movies and various Godzilla movies. Whether the Kaiju and Jagers are duking it out in shallow water, deep water, or the middle of a city, the fights are definitely an exciting spectacle.
In between the action scenes are dramatic segments that include compelling characters. Raleigh Becket is the main character, a Jager pilot who lost his brother in a fierce battle against a Kaiju. Stacker Pentecost is the commander of the Jager army that still remains, standing by in the last remaining active Jager base in the world, located in Hong Kong. Mako Mori is Stacker's assistant and an aspiring Jager pilot who still harbors the painful memory of losing her family (presented in a rather heartbreaking flashback scene). Newton is the scientist who dissects and examines Kaiju specimens up close. Gottlieb is the physicist who predicts the onslaught of Kaiju. These characters, plus a few other secondary characters and all the extras, represent different parts of the world and form an international coalition by coming together. As for the actors playing the main characters, none of them are big Hollywood names (if they were, it might be distracting), but they deliver great performances in Pacific Rim.
Undoubtedly, I love the action. But what makes this movie really shine is the clever imagination that went into the plot and the setting. I can recall plenty of things that were happening or shown on screen and made me nod and smile with great admiration. For example, the neural circuits of Jager pilots integrate with the Jagers themselves, which enables control of the robots with full body actions but also presents problems if the pilots cannot concentrate. Speaking of which, Newton attempts a similar neural connection with a Kaiju brain specimen, which is potentially harmful because of neural overload but may provide a military advantage when he learns of the Kaiju's plans. Then there's other neat stuff like Jager pilot tryouts with martial arts testing, a black market for Kaiju specimens, and analysis of incoming Kaiju like they're hurricanes (with category ratings of 1 through 5). It just goes to show that the script is as important, perhaps more so, than the action.
On my 1-to-10 scale, Pacific Rim easily scores a 9 for its action, characters, and script. The only reason I wouldn't give it a 10 is simply that it was a bit more predictable than I had expected. If it were to surprise me and really keep me on the edge of my seat, I'd feel differently. But that's all right. It's still a very good movie and much better than, let's say, the live-action Transformers movies (which I enjoyed despite the cheesiness many critics have pointed out). More importantly, it is definitely not a low-quality B-movie. Pacific Rim surely gets an A in my book for its imagination and excitement.
For more information about Pacific Rim, visit the Internet Movie Database.