On The Small Screen Reviews

Looking Back…Pacific Rim (2013)

Guillermo del Toro is no doubt a genius. You only have to look at Pan’s Labyrinth and his Oscar winning The Shape of Water to realise that. The man is all about the artistry as well as the story, marrying the two in succinct harmony to evolve a hauntingly incredible movie. His work from the aforementioned fantastical horror, vampire romp Blade II,  to the amazing Gothic action in Hellboy, del Toro has a sublime style that has evolved in his work.  Heck, I even love Crimson Peak despite it’s faults. Del Toro has a special something and, despite it’s naysayers, I think that continues in the underappreciated Pacific Rim.

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Perhaps his best work for polarising people, many seeing Idris Elba yelling; “we’re cancelling the apocalypse” and huffing at the idea, but Pacific Rim has its fair share of fans. Enough to lead to a sequel which, led by John Boyega and directed by Steven S. DeKnight is out tomorrow.

Pacific Rim revolves around a future where the human race, globally, is united against aliens known Kaijus who emerged from an interdimensional portal below the Ocean. Humanity, in an aid to stop total annihilation, build humanoid like robots, called Jaegers, that seem to work for a while, until the Kaijus get stronger, faster, and better. The story focuses on Rayleigh, a renegade pilot whose brother died years before and Mako, a rookie pilot who discovers they have a mental connection with one another…

Visually, this is an outstanding film, especially as this is del Toro’s romp through science fiction. He keeps to his own unique vision, as usually, and utilises a science fiction landscape to illuminate effects. His neon landscape of robots and aliens enhances this action film with a gorgeous aesthetic. The director also combines cultural elements to embellish this world where countries and borders are broken by a war by the extra-terrestrial, including Japan, America, and Britain. But ultimately, his vision is heavily realised with the Kaiju and the Jaegers which have their own look and feel. With ridiculous names such as Gypsy Danger, the robots are all different and with a personality which look astonishingly great on whatever screen you see it on.

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Whilst the themes and story may be a bit complex, the entire movie is prefixed with a backstory narrative that most “dystopian” films do to flesh out the present, the film does well with its intricacies unfold gloriously. This is particularly helped by the two leads, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi. As Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori, they form a rambunctious team who are daring to break the rules. As pilots of a Jaeger, they have to have this mental connection to drive the robot showcase a brilliant platonic relationship that works on mutual respect rather than romantic entanglements. The performances are in tune as are their characters, dealing with grief and responsibility together…

There’s also some welcome comedic relief from Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as Dr. Newton Geiszler and Gottlieb, who try to learn more about the Jaegers mindset. Don’t forget that this also stars Idris Elba as the leader of the whole damn thing and, yes, it’s bloody awesome. While Pacific Rim may masquerade as mindless sci-fi action, it has a brain and a heart all at once. With the release of Uprising, could it beat the original?


Pacific Rim: Uprising is out 23rd March! 

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