Writer/director Guillermo del Toro has made a career out of crafting fantasy and horror films that are not easily categorized and labeled. Beginning with his unorthodox take on the vampire film Cronos (1993) and Blade II (2002) and following on to his Spanish ghost story The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and his dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and his comic book epics Hellboy (2004) and its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). All of that experience has culminated in his biggest film to date Pacific Rim (2013).
The world is on the brink of destruction not by an alien race from outer space but from deep below the Pacific Ocean as an inter-dimensional portal has opened allowing giant monsters from another world to enter into our own. To battle these giant kaiju (as they are called) the nations of the world band together to create giant robots called jaegers that are piloted by two people. At first the jaegers do a good job of defending the world from the kaiju menace but now the monsters are appearing more frequently leading many to believe that there is an ulterior motive to this invasion.
Anyone who has seen a Godzilla film will be very familiar with the world of giant kaiju and jaegers but in del Toro’s hands the film becomes a full on military exercise done to a big budget, high concept way and he delivers the goods. Not being just content with a run of the mill action film del Toro crafts a complex ensemble film which touches upon all aspects of the world he has created from the grunt soldiers on the front lines to the smugglers who deal in rare kaiju body parts (played by del Toro regular Ron Pearlman in one of his most entertaining roles). This film is populated with a lot of relative newcomers and faces you may recognize such as Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba well as Charlie Day and Rinko Kikuchi but these are not the main reason to come see a film like this. It is the giant robots fighting giant monsters and in del Toro’s hands it is an epic battle with an epic story. Del Toro is not just concerned with telling a giant monster verses giant robot story but he gives his characters a history and a goal to achieve elevating the film above being just a meager Summer Blockbuster.
The special visual effects are astounding and if you’re lucky enough to see the film in 3D or better yet in IMAX 3D then you are in for a real treat as this is one of the few films of the summer to use both formats adequately. Pacific Rim is one of the standout summer films and one to be enjoyed on the big screen (and if you need to go even bigger go IMAX big).