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MOVIE REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM

Sunday, July 14, 2013 by
In the typical summer movie season where reboot, remake, sequel and adaptation are easily available and predominantly form the bulk of new releases; the arrival of the lesser form of those or original movie is always something eagerly been looking for. Although Pacific Rim does not entirely fit to be defined as original, but the lack of reference to any established property makes this a distinguished piece of summer blockbuster. But doubts are definite since this genre seldom produces a sell-out blockbuster and brilliant outcome to begin with; save for Matt Reeve’s Cloverfield. At the same time, excitements are also running high since Pacific Rim is presented by director Guillermo del Toro whose works mainly deal with smart horror and sci-fi. At the end of this review, we will see whether this movie is a worthy experience movie for every dime you spent or it merely falls into the same pit holes of over-hyped summer blockbuster.



Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Classification: P13
Release Date: 11 July 2013
Running Time: 131 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay: Travis Beacham
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Max Martini, Ron Perlman

Plot: When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes-a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)-who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
In the near future, the giant monster race identified as Kaiju have risen from a portal beneath the Pacific Ocean and begins to attack major cities along the coastline of the Pacific. When the human learns that the attack is just the beginning of the constant threats in the future, Jaeger program is born - with giant mecha-robot powered by two pilots whose minds are connected in a neural bond will be used to fight the monsters. Initially, the Jaeger program is successful in fending off Kaiju’s attack but over time, the monsters become increasingly well-adapted to fight against the Jaegers. With Jaeger program is on the verge of shutdown due to theirs been declining in efficiency to protect humanity, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the commander of the Jaeger force approaches former pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) to ask for him to return to the program. To power his old piece of mecha in a coveted mission to launch retaliation against the monsters, Raleigh will pairs with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a rookie pilot who is determined to fight in the name of her slain family.

To debate the originality of the concepts presented in Pacific Rim and to mix it among the handful of monster movies is pointless and unnecessary. The credits to be due here are that Pacific Rim is both homage to the classic kaiju films and also serves to revitalize the interest and outlook of this genre to the new generation. Del Toro’s affection to monsters is not much a secret nowadays and it is perhaps for those affections that bring in the sole reason of why Pacific Rim will not be a disappointing movie. While most of the other similarly themed movies will opt to go for loud actions with empty shells, del Toro gives more emphasize on the characters building but he does not completely obliterates the need for those big sequences. The fights are loud-yet-beautifully grasped in a cross-path of conventional flow and modern touch of chaotic, erratic behavior. Constantly offered in a long duration of stereoscopic macro-shots, these physical scenes are handled well and more sharply-focused than, let’s say the Michael Bay’s Transfromers trilogy.

Unlike most of the summer offering that gives only the dumb-yet-fun popcorn flick, Pacific Rim takes audience into the fiery future of dangerous world and enhanced it with great surging interest on both sciences and humanity. The plot, scribed by Travis Beacham and del Toro, is carefully constructed to balance between the emotional journey that connects the pilots through the neural-handshake and the related arc stories that contribute and influence each other. The prologue is a very detailed account that requires deep analysis of how this tragedy affects the daily lives of more than 7 billion people around the world as it works the same way as how World War Z introduces their own problem to the mass. Fortunately, the well-made prologue does not go wasted as the progression of the story quickly ascends into a tale of not only about the mecha-kaiju fight, but also a fight against their demons. The slight wrinkles, though are the cliche and predictable plot all along.

The concept of neural bond, according to del Toro, is the single most important signature of the movie, a point of which I fully agree and largely portrayed. Neural bond offers a glimpse of the relationship and shared-cognitive state that offers more than just a scientific answer. Becket’s struggle to overcome the pain of losing his own brother is as remarkable as the memory of Mori’s when she was just little girl, lost in streets of Tokyo and experiencing the terrors. It is surprising indeed as the marketing trailers did not highlight this point but the manifest in the end product clearly shows how the character study and development actually form the basis of the story. Hunnam’s Becket, Kikuchi’s Mori and Elba’s Pentecost, in my opinion are the emotional anchors and effectively making these characters something to care for in the end of the day. To be expecting cardboard development or acting on the characters are entirely wrong because one who is familiar with del Toro’s works will know that he gives each of his character a throughout and equal package. Then try having this little girl whom I am sure will have a bright future. Her name is Mana Ashida and she plays the young Mori with decorative expression, a moment that really jerks the inner-self to emotion flow.

Along with some cool effects and inspirational designs, the music scores by Ramin Djawadi whose works are prominent in Iron Man, Game of Thrones and Person of Interest is truly phenomenal. My vote goes to Djawadi for the best soundtrack of the year. The effects are amazing, although over-ambitiously crafted but it enhances the whole movie into a larger scale. The challenge for Pacific Rim is to outdo the artistry perfection that rarely presented in the modern and contemporary summer flick, what’s more in kaiju movie as such.

In the end, Pacific Rim is an excellent, well-made and beautiful sci-fi action flick that pays homage to the genre with its solid plot that transcends above the norm themes and philosophy with ample development of the characters that we will eventually care for. Guillermo del Toro marries the traditional and modern filmmaking with effective the emotion-driven story, outstandingly focused special effects and epic soundtrack.

MY RATING:
Story: 4.5
Casts: 5.0
Cinematography: 5.0
Effects: 4.5
GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 18.8/20.0

Enjoy the main theme from the soundtrack of Pacific Rim, composed by Ramin Djawadi. Glad I find my RM18 Maxx 2D version to be worthwhile.



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