‘Pacific Rim’ a big-budget B movie

By Frank Ruggiero (frank@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jul. 18, 2013 | Modified: Jul. 18, 2013
‘Pacific Rim’ a big-budget B movie

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi star in ‘Pacific Rim.’

Photo submitted



If you’re looking for giant robots fighting gargantuan sea monsters, look no further than “Pacific Rim.”

Just don’t look for much else.

According to director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), this rock ’em, sock ’em sci-fi flick is his childhood dream realized on celluloid. It’s an homage to the Japanese creature features of decades past, with a heaping dose of anime-inspired action.

Low on character, high on atmosphere and soaring in the special effects department, it’s a modern-day, big-budget B movie. But while many B movies their charm and merits, they’re not typically associated with quality. “Pacific Rim,” while it has its moments, makes this glaringly obvious.

Set in the not-too-distant future, mankind has been fighting a losing battle against kaiju (one of many references to those Japanese monster flicks), a species of leviathan-sized monsters that have emerged from a trans-dimensional rift at the bottom of the sea to wreak havoc on Earth.

With conventional weapons barely succeeding, the world’s nations band together to create Jaegers — giant robots piloted by humans and designed to put those pesky monsters in their place. In order to successfully control these robots, though, the pilots must establish a mental link that allows them to work in perfect tandem.

The kaiju, however, seem to be evolving, making each human victory come at a greater cost. The Jaeger project commander, Gen. Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, TV’s “Luther”), believes that better pilots will yield better results, so he brings Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam, “Children of Men”) out of retirement, pairing him with promising newcomer Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, “Norwegian Wood”).

Meanwhile, quasi-mad scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day, TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) is searching for the kaiju’s weaknesses, scouring the debris for any clues humanity can use to its advantage.

With Raleigh and Mako’s prowess and Geiszler’s ingenuity, they just might be able to save the day — and the planet.

But they can’t quite save the film. With an already bloated running time, the movie’s threadbare characters can barely drag the plot along. As such, it’s hard to invest in our heroes or even really care if they succeed. What character development there is seems to be derived from “Top Gun” and TV’s “Voltron,” with Elba being the only one having fun with it.

Well, make that Elba and del Toro. The director obviously loves his monster movies, and it’s more than evident in the film’s special effects and action sequences. This is where “Pacific Rim” shines.

Don’t look for a man in a monster costume trouncing a model city. The kaiju are expertly animated, meticulously detailed, gargantuan beasties, who are, actually, quite fun to watch.

It’s everything in between that’s the problem.

“Pacific Rim,” rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.


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