Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”)
Written by: Travis Beacham (“Clash of the Titans”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)
You’re here to know if watching giant robots duke it out with colossal monsters using state-of-the-art special effects, leveling city blocks in the process, is as incredibly cool as you hoped it would be, right? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. On that front, “Pacific Rim” delivers and delivers big. From the opening scenes featuring a Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast,” think Godzilla on steroids) taking out the Golden Gate Bridge to a mid-movie showdown wherein a particularly nasty Kaiju takes a beating from an oil tanker-wielding Jaeger (German for “hunter,” otherwise known as the huge robots humanity built to kick Kaiju butt), director Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget monster movie is pure fun when the massive fists are flying.
“Pacific Rim” opens in the not-too-distant future. The Kaiju attack on the Golden Gate Bridge was just the beginning. More and more monsters rose from the deep, traveling to our world through a trans-dimensional portal known as The Breach. After conventional weapons took far too long to defeat the beasts, humanity shook off all previous conflicts and joined forces to build the Jaegers. Controlled by two pilots mind-melded together in a process called The Drift, the Jaegers successfully beat back the Kaiju…until the Kaiju came back with a vengeance and the Jaegers were declared ineffective and set to be decommissioned in favor of a massive seawall. Under the command of Marshal Pentecost (Idris Elba), the last remaining Jaegers will mount a final offensive against the Kaiju with the fate of the human race hanging in the balance.
While del Toro turns in top-notch action, the story threading it all together tends to feel routine and pieced-together from a bunch of stuff you’ve seen before. Echos of “Avatar” resonate through these scenes, from dead brothers to joining minds to piloting giant, well, avatars, it all seems too familiar. A sense of strangeness seeping through the seams keeps things interesting, though. Characters are named things like Stacker Pentecost, Hercules Hansen, and Hannibal Chau, and the Jaegers sport nonsensical code names like Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka. Del Toro tosses in little details to build this world that might keep you from glancing at your watch too much when there aren’t any skyscraper-crushing battles onscreen. But when the titans start clashing, “Pacific Rim” is everything a kid who grew up with a steady diet of Godzilla and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would ever want in a film.