For those who have always wanted to see a giant robot swing a cargo ship like a baseball bat to smack a Godzilla-sized sea beast, Pacific Rim might be the greatest movie of all time.
By JON NICCUM
Special to The Star
For everyone else, this sci-fi adventure is an intolerable waste of time and resources. A $200 million dud best pitched as Transformers meets Cloverfield meets utter pointlessness.
Worse, its not the product of some subterranean schlockmeister such as Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay. Its from talented filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who is 20,000 leagues away from his Oscar-winning Pans Labyrinth. The Mexican writer/director brings his eccentric visual style to this futuristic project but little of the dark poetic themes that define his work.
Thats the most disappointing aspect of Pacific Rim. The plot is just so mechanical. Indifferent. As if the robots were the screenwriters.
Charlie Hunnam (TVs Sons of Anarchy) stars as Raleigh Becket, who explains in the exposition-laden intro how giant reptilian creatures dubbed Kaiju are emerging from another dimension through a breach in the ocean floor and wreaking havoc on coastal cities. With militaries depleted, governments launch a joint endeavor called Jaegers (pronounced yay-grrs), which are enormous robots designed to defeat the Kaiju.
Raleigh and brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) are among the elite pilots of these machines. Since the strain on one pilot proves too much for the human brain, compatible partners must mind-meld in a virtual reality known as the drift to control the left and right hemispheres.
After several years of these fights, the functional Jaegers (the German word for hunter) are dwindling. And the Kaiju (the Japanese term for giant beasts) are growing in size and frequency.
Were not an army anymore, Mr. Becket, were the resistance, his stalwart commanding officer (Idris Elba) explains.
Can the resistance find a way to stop this Lovecraftian enemy? Will humanity survive? How many different Pacific Rim toys can fit on shelves at Target? These and many other questions most of them logic-based crop up during this noisy blockbuster.
At least the robots and monsters look cool what can be seen of them, anyway. Almost all the battles are shot at night, in rain and/or underwater. Getting a clear look at these behemoths is like trying to glimpse nudity on a scrambled Cinemax signal.
The best moments in the flick, which was co-written by Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans), belong to the secondary characters. Instead of a bimbo blonde love interest, the role goes to the more interesting Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi (a 2006 Oscar nominee for Babel). She portrays an orphan of the Kaiju wars whos been waiting years to take her revenge.
Also entertaining is Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) as a scientist and Kaiju groupie whose arms are covered in tattoos of the vanquished beasts. His over-caffeinated hunt to find an intact enemy brain to drift with leads to the shadowy Hannibal Chau (del Toro fixture Ron Perlman), a black-market dealer specializing in leftover monster parts.
Days scenes only magnify the weakness of the rest of the cast. Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises) plays a competing scientist who cant even walk without overacting. Robert Kazinsky (True Blood) is the rival jock villain whose only purpose is to badger the hero at every juncture. These scenes are no more credible than their parody counterparts in Team America: World Police.
Eventually, these Jaeger-meisters put aside their differences to dive straight down the breach and cancel the apocalypse. And it only takes them 2 hours and 11 minutes to reach this spot.
Hard to fathom that a movie filled with 2,500-ton stars can carry so little weight.