The world is almost at an end. Gargantuan monsters – known as the Kaiju – are emerging from another dimension through a rift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Humanity has exhausted all other options of defeating these terrors and through the pooled resources of the World’s powers they have developed the Jaeger Program; the building of enormous robots who will engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Kaiju.
Now Pacific Rim has its fair share of problems, from the plot description above one can pick out a few already. Like, for instance, the fact that hand-to-hand combat is plainly the most inefficient means of fighting, whether you are six-feet tall or six hundred-feet tall. Also, the US and Russia have an enormous stockpile of nuclear arms, do they not? One useful way these weapons of mass destruction could be put to use might be to blow up the Kaiju before they reach land, preventing the economy-destroying damage that is depicted throughout the film. It has to be easier to mobilise a nuclear missile than it is to fly a forty-storey robot around the largest body of water on earth. Nevertheless, this would not make a very enjoyable film.
This brings us onto the main thrust of Pacific Rim, which is unequivocally the Jaeger-Kaiju fights. These sumptuous, visual onslaughts are by far the best parts of the film and arguably the best parts of any of this summer’s throng of blockbusters. The Hong Kong fight scene in particular is a must see. Here director Guillermo Del Toro’s ocular mastery is fully realized, as these sequences have an unrivalled attention to detail that make them all the more spectacular.
Del Toro has, however, taken some flak for the film’s cartoonish characters and plot. This criticism comes on the back of the high hopes that many critics and internet types had for the film; critically loved director plus a rare original story idea, what is not to love? What most of these people forget is that this is a film about giant robots fighting giant monsters from another dimension, so some nonsensicality should be expected and, in reality, welcomed. If this is indeed what audiences go into Pacific Rim expecting then they will have an enjoyable 131 minutes of special effects and cheese.
That is not to say that the horrendous performances by much of the leading cast are not mildly jarring. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam, as main protagonist Raleigh Becket, is truly terrible, with awful delivery of awful dialogue. His character, and the complete lack of any form of arc for many of the others, makes the human element of Pacific Rim hard to swallow. The finger of blame points to screenwriter Travis Beacham, known for 2010’s Clash of the Titans. His laughably bad script is what brings down the rest of the film.
All the same, the six to 16-year-old audience that this film is aimed at should not notice this cartoonishness. In fact they should revel in it. If audiences are able to take themselves back to this child-like state of mind then they too will see through the buffoonery to the visually spectacular frolic that Pacific Rim should be enjoyed as.