Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day
Watch Pacific Rim online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Imagine a tall truck. Times it by five. Now imagine a giant 250ft robot picking up the truck and battering a monster round the head with it. That’s the kind of thrill Pacific Rim has to offer – the thrill of really big things hitting other really big things. While making really big noises.
If nothing else, that’s what Pacific Rim is: big.
It’s the story of Raleigh (Hunnam), a washed-up pilot of a big machine – one of several big machines, which have been specifically created to battle big monsters. These big monsters are coming out of a big rift with another big universe in the big Atlantic Ocean and are destroying the world’s big cities. You know what that means: trouble. Trouble that’s big.
Because these robots (“Jaegers”) are so big, they require two people to operate them. Their brains are joined together to make one big virtual brain, which can then use the robot’s big weapons to kill the big monsters. The only guy with big enough balls to fly one solo? Raleigh. That makes him a big deal.
So after a big period of time away from the front line, with the world on the brink of big destruction, bad-ass military boss Stacker Pentecost (Elba) brings Raleigh back to suit up once again. It’s a big gamble – and there are no big prizes for guessing whether it pays off.
Predictable sci-fi parts from hundreds of other movies are welded together, from Avatar to Evangelion, while the script has holes so big Godzilla could fly a jumbo jet through them. “I’ve got to tell you something,” begins one pilot. “You don’t have to,” replies their neurally-connected partner, “I’m already in your head.” People have these pointless emotional conversations throughout the big runtime – an attempt to make us care about the human characters that’s mostly a big failure.
Luckily, the cast themselves are no big shambles. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are fun as token big-brained scientists, Rinko Kikuchi gives good value as unstable rookie Maco with a big back-story, while Charlie Hunnam is bland but butch enough to carry the big male lead. With nothing hidden from each other, though, the prospect of unspoken romance between the two leads holds no big amount of tension.
And so the big responsibility falls to the big monsters – and that’s where Pacific Rim really delivers. Roaring, jumping, biting, spraying; Guillermo Del Toro’s big love of Kaiju spouts a slew of enthusiastic creature design all over the place. Creatures with names like Knifehead and Leatherback. As seamless CGI lets the big beasts loose on Hong Kong’s neon streets, it’s like watching the final 10 minutes of Power Rangers but stretched out for over two hours. And twice as big.
If the monsters had a bigger part, a la Godzilla, we could enjoy siding with them, but Del Toro seems keen to give humans the starring role. They’re certainly likeable – unlike, say, the protagonists in Transformers – but with clunky dialogue and an uneven, overlong script, there’s little to engage beyond big spectacle, meaning Pacific Rim’s punch is more metallic than emotional. Still, it’s a big punch. And when those big monsters and big robots start pounding big chunks out of each other, it’s impossible not to turn into a big 12 year old and revel in the sheer bigness of all the big things.
The only thing bigger? The grin it leaves on your face.
Pacific Rim is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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