Pacific Rim (2013)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Growing up in the Seventies, my first introduction to true movie magic came from watching Godzilla flicks with my mom. Yes, Night of the Living Dead put me on the road to loving horror by age 3 and Frankenstein further cemented that love, but here were gigantic monsters fighting across cities. Creatures of myth. Beasts of endless scope. Never before had I witnessed such a thing. I will always remember sitting in front of our old black and white console TV filled with absolute wonder and in a state of rarely attained unbridled, untainted joy, my imagination running a mile a minute.
No matter how old I get, watching these movies over and over again can be summed up in one word for me: home. For a couple of hours the world and all of its problems fall by the wayside and I'm free to just enjoy the illusions in front of me. Revel in them. Here we are decades later, and with a full heart I can honestly say that after seeing Pacific Rim, that ever elusive magic was brought back to me like an old friend I haven't seen since I was a little kid.
Pacific Rim wastes no time and starts off right away with a giant creature attack, a montage if you will that brings us immediately up-to-speed with prior events. We learn that to combat the monsters - or Kaiju as they are lovingly referred to here - our planet's nations created giant robots called Jaegers to fend off these bestial and brutal menaces. Along the way the war against these monstrous behemoths takes an unexpected turn as they begin to adapt to our technology and weaponry. Several years later there are only a handful of Jaegers left, and world leaders are pulling the plug on the Jaeger program to try a different method of keeping the shores safe. Of course said method ends up being only mildly effective, and it's not long before the commander of the program, Stacker Pentecost (played with an appropriate amount of badass vigor by the always great Idris Elba), gathers his troops, which include a has-been, a rookie, a trio of brothers, a father and son team, and more, to suit up to bring the fight to the Kaiju. Story-wise that's all the detail I'm getting into here as I wouldn't dream of spoiling a single second of this wondrous flick for you.
If there's one thing I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt it's that Guillermo del Toro is a kindred spirit to all fans with a love for monster movies. The amount of detail and love he puts up on the screen is downright overwhelming. This is a celebration of the Kaiju sub-genre which began with Godzilla. A veritable love letter to people who taught us to dream like Ray Harryhausen and the iconic Ishirô Honda. Everything you could want to see is up there on the screen: likable characters who display a great deal of emotion and heart played by actors who are all-in; a stellar, action-packed, and witty script; and of course giant robots and monsters locked in a state of mortal combat the likes of which you've seldom seen. Even better, around 85% of what you witnessed in the many trailers , clips, and TV spots takes place at the beginning of the film. After the opening you have nearly two full hours left of unseen beauty and chaos to behold. And speaking of beholding... YOU SEE EVERYTHING! There is no shakey-cam. There is no confusing and erratic editing. The goods are all up there on the screen. Every bit of them. You are ringside for every smashed building, every mighty blow, and every jaw-dropping set piece. The scale of the action is just off the charts.
Even cooler? This is a movie for everyone. Bring your kids! Yes, things can be a bit scary, especially for the really young children out there, but if they're around nine and up, this is most likely the best cinematic gift you can give to them this year. A shared experience of a lifetime. There's no foul language and no real gore to speak of. Just amazing characters who are destined to become classics and win a well-deserved place in hearts of all ages for many years to come.
There was a part of me who believed that once you trade magic for fact, as we often do on the way to adulthood, there are no tradebacks. I've never been more happy to be wrong. Pacific Rim is an awesome good time that will leave you cheering. It's one of the few perfect summer films in existence. See it on the big screen. Yes, even pay the extra for 3D. Bask in its fun and glory. Don't hesitate for a single second. This is easily one of the single best experiences I've had in a theatre in my entire life. No hyperbole. Thank you, Guillermo. This is a gift that fans like myself will always cherish. Prepare to be blown away, guys. Pacific Rim is that damned good and that damned entertaining!
5 out of 5