Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Story By: Travis Beacham
Production Companies: Legendary Pictures & DDY
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures
For me, Pacific Rim will forever and always be the film that placates to both my inner child and my outer adult. It is a film that has everything and more besides that one could ask for in a film that is essentially about giant monsters fighting against equally giant robots.
For a better summary however, allow me to paraphrase the one posted on Wikipedia: Set in the 2020s, the Earth is at war with a race of biologically created monsters aptly named Kaiju (the Japanese word for monster) who are emerging into our world via an interplanetary nexus located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
To try and combat against this threat, with more and more Kaiju appearing with greater frequency and strength, mankind has deemed it necessary to create monsters of our own in the form of Jaegers (the German word for hunter). These Jaegers are gigantic humanoid robots that are controlled by no less than two pilots whose minds are linked and intertwined via a neural bridge. The film itself focuses on the final days of the war and one Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement as a part of one last-ditch attempt to defeat the Kaiju once and for all.
Man there is so much that I want to say about this movie from beginning to end but I fear that my words will end up making a novel of their own if allowed. Thus, I shall restrict myself strictly to discussing the Kaiju, a brief mention of the Jaegers as I will be focusing on one in particular in my favorite character review, and general plotline of the film with its ups and its downs.
Going in reverse order, the plot of the film is… it is quite literally an American kaiju film insomuch that it is a film that all but mimics those that have come out from Japan, particularly in the aspect of how the fights between the Jaegers and the Kaiju transpire. There is also a surprisingly refreshing take on military intelligence in this film in that, rather than being the stereotypical fruitlessness of the armed forces’ efforts against a Kaiju, the various militaries of the world know that their conventional weaponry is of no use against a Kaiju and openly pool their resources into assisting the Jaegers.
Aside from the opening narration of the film that states how long it took the American military to stop the first Kaiju, which was somewhere around six days and three major cities later, we never see direct military involvement in the form of ships, tanks, or anything to that nature. Instead, it is all laid upon the shoulders of the Jaegers and their pilots.
That’s not to say though that there isn’t a form of major stupidity to be had in this film. This is, after all, a film featuring giant monsters and robots. It’s practically an unwritten rule that there has to be at least one source of stupid to be had and it is in the governments of the world, specifically those whose borders line the Pacific Ocean.
See, with the increasing threat of the Kaiju and the steadily falling numbers of Jaegers emerging victorious and in operational piece, the governments have deemed it necessary to shelf any further Jaegers being made and/or repaired, and are instead focusing on the “Wall of Life.” These Walls, as they are so aptly named, are literally giant barriers erected along the coasts of the major countries to try and keep the Kaiju out.
I won’t lie when I first saw all of this I all but smacked my face right off and nearly did so again when the governments still supported this idea after a Kaiju demonstrated how easy it was for it to break through. Admittedly, no Kaiju prior to the events shown in the film demonstrated an ability to fly but come on here people. It’s a bloody wall! The Kaiju have claws and most of them have multiple arms! If they can’t break their way in they’ll just climb over it!
Aside from that, there are admittedly a few silly moments to be had throughout the film but considering the main premise of the film, those instances can be forgiven/forgotten with the overwhelming awesome that is watching giant robots and monsters beating the crap out of each other.
Speaking of the Kaiju, I commend the imagination and thought that was put into them. Being genetically identical but bearing distinctive appearances and abilities, one can easily see how the Kaiju are purposefully created bio weapons of destruction. Their creators, known as the Precursors, tried to colonize our world once before at the end of the Cretaceous period but found our world to still be too inhospitable to them and thus bided their time all this millennia later.
The Kaiju are purposefully designed and created to find and destroy largely populated areas like major cities and are all interconnected with a type of hive mind that allows them to communicate with one another and sustain information across the generations after in a loose form of genetic memory. Though not sentient, there is no argument that the Kaiju are intelligent enough to think and plan out complex ambush and combat strategies.
The Kaiju are measured to the “Serizawa Scale” upon emergence from the Breach into distinctive Categories I through V with the former being the most dangerous of the lot. This scale of measurement is achieved by measuring the water displacement, toxicity levels, and ambient radiation given off by the Kaiju upon emergence into our world. On the note of toxicity, if the Kaiju weren’t bad enough when they are alive, they are much worse in death as their flesh and blood turn into a highly acidic and extremely toxic substance known as Kaiju Blue, which can kill all forms of Earthen life. Strangely enough, the bones of a Kaiju are safe for usage with many cities being rebuilt around them.
What I like most about the Kaiju as a whole though is that while many of them share similarities with each other, such as arm structure and even number of limbs, each and every one of them is distinctive and is even given a name to be referred to as by the general public. These names are short and somewhat childish but given that these are creatures created for destruction and death, there is something to be had in trying to make a joke out of them.
The Jaegers in the meantime… Boy, where do I begin with them? Though many were advertised in the months before the film’s release, only a small handful made the final cut. Of course, of those Jaegers, each and every one of them looks like true representatives of their countries of origin. More to the point, you can almost immediately guess which of the Jaegers are fresh off the assembly line whilst others have been in the fight since the war first began. Their launch date is classified under the term “Mark” with every increasing generation being made of bigger and better technology than the last.
Jaegers of Mark-1 through Mark-3 are nuclear powered and ran the risk of having their pilots develop cancer, whereas those of Mark-4 and over are entirely digital. As to weaponry, that differs by the Jaeger but each are, for the most part, limited to melee styled combat with a few being equipped with short range weaponry such as Kaiju skin piercing missiles or plasma cannons.
Unfortunately, though the world has pooled together to create these awesome machines, money is still what drives the world to turn and a Jaeger does not come cheap. Striker Eureka for example, the first, last, and only Mark-5 Jaeger, cost over a hundred billion dollars to make, which is easily ten times more than the construction of a nuclear aircraft carrier.
Is this the best giant monster movie I’ve ever seen? Not in particular, but do I think it is the best giant monster and giant robot film? The best that there ever is bar none, no matter what films may come be it an actual sequel or not. This film well and truly lived up to its tagline of “go big or go extinct.”