I caught the IMAX 3D advance screening of Pacific Rim last night.
Below you can find my thoughts and opinions on the movie.
Lawrence will have a formal review up sometime later.
Warning: Spoilers Follow
Overall I thought it was a pretty good movie, just "alright" really.
It's pretty much what I expected, giant monsters vs. giant robots.
It's been said the movie has been tracking poor with audiences, while that not mean much, I wonder if they started the marketing campaign too early with last year's Comic-Con. Basically all the footage we have been seeing is the robots fighting the monsters for the past year. It could be that it has just gotten old, and it might have been better to start the publicity closer to the release of the movie. I recall that after Comic-Con there was huge buzz about Pacific Rim, but it seemed to fade; most likely because it's been the "same old same old."
That said, the special effects and fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaiju were pretty darn awesome. The accompanying music score was rather interesting as well. For me, it brought up memories of something like an American Gladiator or even Rocky.
Getting back to the fight scenes - I wanted more. The movie opens with Charlie Hunnam's character, Raleigh Becket, narrating what has taken place. I actually kinda felt that the audience was robbed as we are shown all these destroyed Jaegers and killed Kaiju, but we really don't see the battle. We are presented the events in a series of news casts, which actually reminded me of the end of Starship Troopers after the Federation had achieved victory. That's sorta where Pacific Rim picks up; they think they have beat the Kaiju, but then more stronger creatures attack.
We then see Gypsy Danger, piloted by Raleigh and his brother, take on one of the stronger Kaiju - and lose. Another complaint of mine is that the Kaiju looked all too similar. I thought that they blew a huge opportunity to give us some really cool monsters. Basically they were all just black and blue-light creatures. So Gypsy Danger loses and Raleigh's brother dies. This caused the Jaeger program to be shut down. Fast-forward five years, Raleigh has been working as a construction worker on the Earth's next-best answer to the Kaiju: a big wall. Well, that doesn't work out as one of the more powerful Kaiju break through in about an hour.
Though the Jaeger program was shut down, it went underground, led by Idris Elba's Stacker Pentecost. Elba easily had the best performance of the entire movie. He was the glue that bound the movie, almost a Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Pentecost, with the help of the Russians, put together a rag-tag group of Jaegers with a rag-tag crew.
When this was introduced, the entire movie slowed down to almost a stand still, I felt.
We are introduced to two comic relief characters with a pair of scientists, each think their own theory to be right. We are also introduced to the rest of the Jaeger team as well as Rinko Kikuchi's character, Mako Mori. I'm curious how audiences as well as reviewers will related to Mako, as the character is heavily influenced by Anime. There is the little girl aspect as well as the really high-pitched voice (at times). There is a lot of build up between Mako and Raliegh, as Raliegh needs a partner to pilot the rebuilt Gypsy Danger Jaeger. That build up culminates in a stick fight, which I guess is how they assess how well the pilots will be able to work together. It was sort of an eye-rolling moment, I felt.
Well, long story short, Mako ends up becoming Raleigh's partner, after we see some long drama involved with Pentecost.
At this point I was left wondering when we are going to see some more Kaiju battles. My 9-year-old even asked how long the movie has been going on for, because at that point it seemed forever.
Getting back to the scientists, one used math to predict how many Kaiju were coming through, with it said more and more would be coming at specific intervals and two at the same time, then three etc. Turns out he was right as there is a double Kaiju event (yeah, finally!). He also came up with the idea to seal the rift by detonating a nuclear device inside the portal that connects the two worlds.
Turns out the other scientist was right as well, as he ended up mentally bonding with a Kaiju brain (again ala Starship Troopers) using the technology that enables the pilots to bond together with the Jaegers (that some online are referring to as Inception, though this wasn't dreaming). The scientist figures out all the Kaiju are connected through a hive-like mind. He also learned they are clones (which explains why they all look alike, I guess), and that they are being sent by alien "Masters" to colonize the Earth. The Masters have actually even been to the Earth before - the dinosaurs! However, the atmosphere wasn't right, and thanks to humankind's treatment of mother earth over the years by polluting her (yawn), the atmosphere and oceans have been made more toxic which enables the Kaiju to survive.
So, let's fast-forward toward to the end of the movie where there is another double Kaiju event, but the scientist says something is wrong as it should be a triple event. Two Jaeger's are sent out to go to the rift and denoate the bomb, but for the first time the Kaiju aren't attacking - they are guarding the rift.
Enter Ron Perlman, who has more of a cameo in the movie. The one scientist wants another Kaiju brain to connect with, and as Idris Elba made a deal with Perlman, who is a black market seller of Kaiju parts to fund the defunct Jaeger project, Perlman has a brain. The scientist meets up with Perlman and tells him his idea about connecting to the Kaiju brain, and that he did it once before. Perlman tells him that was a big mistake because as all the Kaiju are connected, and the Jeager tech is a two way street (memories are shared by both) that now the Kaiju connected to the scientist. So basically the Kaiju know their plans, which explains why the Kaiju are not attacking and are guarding the portal.
The end of the movie sees, as expected, a huge battle between the Kaiju and three Jaegers. It's pretty cool, though it's all really dark and in the ocean. That's another complaint of mine in that it was, at times, all one big garbled mess of a fight as everything was dark and basically the same color. The scientist ends up connecting to another Kaiju brain (a baby who explodes out of his dead Kaiju mother!) and learns their plan to detonate the nuclear device will not work as the portal is sort of only accessed by a bar code - meaning you need to be a Kaiju. So they figure out they need a Kaiju corpse, and as "luck" would have it, the Kaiju have been guarding the portal. Remember how this was supposed to be a triple Kaiju event? Turns out it really is, and it's the first time a level 5 Kaiju is sent through.
Gypsy Danger ends up being the last Jaeger standing and as it's nuclear powered, it can still achieve their goal of closing the rift. We actually get to go through the portal and see the other side! I liked that aspect and was thankful Del Toro included that in the movie.
Both the Kaiju and the Jaegers were under utilized. Felt they missed big opportunitues to give us some really cool looking monsters as well as Jaegers.
Felt the Jaegers were under utilized regarding their weaponry, sans Gypsy Danger who seemed to have an assortement of weapons (some that Raleigh didn't know about? ie the sword?). However, I guess that was explained by the Jaegers being older versions. Still, seeing some of the more advanced Jaegers at work against the Kaiju early on would have been really cool.
It's remarked in the movie that the humans have previously tried to drop bombs into the rift, but they bounced back. So they didn't think the same would happen to a nuclear bomb, and after 15 or so years it's their first time trying that idea? Guess it didn't matter as the Kaiju were circling the rift. Also guess the aliens didn't seem to think that leaving the key to the door right in front of it was a bad idea. And the aliens didn't think that the bomb wouldn't have worked because the humans didn't have access??
No one died? As the Kaiju attacked the cities, not one person was shown crushed (please, correct me in the comments below if I'm wrong); not one person was shown - you know - actually being stomped on by a skyscraper-sized creature? Seemed odd. Again, that probably happened in what the audience didn't get to see - the first Kaiju attacks - as the movie skipped over that in the beginning, so everyone was prepared, but basically all we got was the Kaiju destroying buildings in various cities.
It might sound like I'm being hyper-critical, but the movie was still rather good. It did have tons of action and was a lot of fun.
There is also a fun mid-credit scene and a nice dedication post-credits.
Feel free to share your thoughts on Pacific Rim below in the comments.