Monkey Movie Review – Pacific Rim

Ah nothing like a long Thanksgiving weekend and U-Verse free preview to take in some movies that I unfortunately missed at the Box Office.

This time, it’s Pacific Rim, an interesting movie that hit it pretty big at the box office.  Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the film takes a genre and delivers something a little unique – but not totally unique.

[No Spoilers]

Set in the very near future, a rift has opened between another universe and ours (the Breach).  This rift is located at the basin of the Pacific Rim and it’s sending odd gigantic creatures our way to cause destruction and mayhem.  None to worry because we, in response, have built giant robots powered by two humans each.  The human operators each take half of the functions of the large robot, and at the same time join brains to share thoughts and images.  So this part is not hard to figure out.  Battling robots and gigantic alien attackers.  So your first take might be “seen that!”  But wait, there’s more…!

Pacific Rim actually takes the time to provide a reasonable story line with interesting characters and a good (albeit predictable) subplot.  It’s not just crazy battling giants, like, say, Transformers and it’s not just stereotypical characters (oh that Megan Fox).

Let’s start with the plot.  Yes there are battles, but these are generally well choreographed and not the frenetic “can’t follow what’s going on” Transformers battles.  And the movie has down time for character introduction and building. Humans try something other than robots to battle and insulate them from the creatures.  Some (okay stereotypical) characters are introduced as well: the angry son, the intelligent quiet Asian woman with a secret and just wanting a chance, the brace, handsome lead with tragedy in his past, who walked away but now is being called back, the angry general who holds a secret, and so on.  Pretty basic but the selection of actors makes it work well.

Event better, there are no wise cracking robots who are borderline racist versions of humans.  Yes I said it.  But who didn’t see Transformers and say “that’s a black robot!” because of the over-the-top Fat Albert style voice characterizations.  Dumb.

And there’s Ron Perlman!  A smaller part but a fun one none the less.  Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) plays the lead character here with reasonable aplomb.  Idras Elba (“The Wire” and “American Gangster”) plays the major general with a back story.  Rinko Kikuchi, a relative newcomer, plays a strong female character who is also a love interest.  And I have to emphasize, her character is reasonably well done, though more time could have been spent on her.    Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”, “Lego Movie”, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) is a manic, Bobcat Goldthwait style character who, paired with Burn Gorman (“Game of Thrones” and “Dark Knight Rises”) to make something that works, though you wonder why they work together given their character differences.  But it’s clear that both are hamming it up a bit – and it also works well.

The CGi is well done – the creatures are uniquely cartoonish and yet realistic.  Hard to describe.  The mood is somber, it’s night time the whole movie – and raining.  No explanation as to why fighter jets or other weapons of war are not leveraged.  Nice “the world joins together to fight” element that mixes various countries with their own “Jaegars” (battle bots) that cleverly represent each country (Russian Jaegar is strong, steely).  Smart way to label the monsters like hurricanes (category 1 through 4, and even a 5!)

It’s nice because there’s really not much cursing that I can recall, no sex, no real gore, though an intense scene or two, nothing that a 13 year old could not go see (perhaps younger depending on how numb your child is to all this).  My 16 year old daughter hooked me on Walking Dead and some of those scenes make me say “gah?!?”.

Anyway – the point was not to give away any plot elements.  Sequel?  Yes, possibly.  Fun?  Yes.  Holds your attention? Yes!  Strong female character?  Pretty much.

Bottom line: check out the movie.  Different but familiar.  Well thought out.

On a scale of one to five bananas, Monkey gives it 3.75.  Eeep!

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