In "Pacific Rim," there’s a little bit of Godzilla and a sprinkling of World War II-era combat movies mixed with a little bit of what you might call Transformers from a gifted-and-talented class.
Guillermo del Toro deftly directs a pounding, ear-rattling spectacle of an action-packed science-fiction flick that’s a war movie at heart.
The exposition doesn’t take long because it’s so well-organized. Gigantic aliens called “kaiju” are arriving via some kind of portal in the Pacific Ocean to destroy cities and kill thousands. For the sake of humanity, international leaders have banded together against this menace, which is arriving more regularly in increasingly lethal forms.
As a battle plan, the governments have created the “jaeger” (“hunter” in German) program that involves enormous high-tech machines the same size as the aliens. The robots are powered by two people who are “mind-linked” so each can control one side of the mechanism as it battles the kaiju. This plan works well for quite some time, and the pilots of the robocraft achieve rock-star status.
But the kaiju are coming up out of the water more frequently, and they’re destroying the robots. In fact, only four remain. Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who is in charge of the program, knows that all he has planned has been defeated now that the program will receive no more government funding. He continues his work with a rag-tag pair of scientists in an underground operation.
Among the famous pilots was Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam, television’s “Sons of Anarchy”), who disappeared from the jaeger scene after his brother was killed in a kaiju battle. Pentecost seeks Raleigh for the robot he once piloted. The jaeger has been refurbished and is ready to return to the battlefield.
Now, Raleigh needs a co-pilot. He finds a possible successor to his brother in Make Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, “Norwegian Wood”), although it’s obvious that Pentecost has personal reasons for disapproving of the match.
The human element is the focus of the plot. And del Toro, who is a master at directing special effects, also has a chance to show off stunning visual effects and warfare. The 3-D is a lot of fun to experience, although I’m sure the movie would be equally entertaining in 2-D.
It’s a summer spectacle for sci-fi fans and action aficionados.