Clearly the best parts of a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters are going to be the actual fights between said robots and monsters, and when it comes to those fights Pacific Rim delivers like gangbusters. They're outrageously badass, and crafted as if they were ripped straight from the fantasies of an action figure-obsessed kid; the sort who'd hole up in his room for an afternoon with a mix of toys from various movies and combine them to form the ultimate action extravaganza -- one where a giant robot can pick up an ocean liner and smash it across the face of a ferocious monster.
This is Pacific Rim. You won't caress it or run your fingers through its soft, emotional hair. You won't snuggle with it or write romantic poems about it. Straight up, this is a monster movie on steroids. But unlike, say, Transformers (a film many people are comparing Pacific Rim to based on its trailers), the epic action on display here is gorgeous and riveting and cheer worthy. You can actually see what's happening, and feel its biggest moments pulsating through your wild, childlike imagination. You'll feed off its adrenaline, and damn will it feel good.
This is Pacific Rim, a film that first and foremost pays homage to monster masters like Ishiro Honda (Destroy All Monsters) and Ray Harryhausen, which is why it probably lacks the relatable, real-world vibes we've come to expect from our post-Dark Knight, post-9/11 blockbusters. This movie doesn't try to show you what it'd be like in our world if monsters arrived tomorrow. This movie shows you what it'd be like if monsters arrived in our world years ago, and it picks up right at that point where our backs are against the wall and there's very little hope left.
Pacific Rim isn't an origin story either, despite the fact that it's a completely original concept not based on some preexisting brand. Its origin story is told in the first 10 minutes of the movie, and then it's just on. There aren't any flashbacks of characters frolicking in a world that's familiar to you; Pacific Rim simply injects you straight into a future that's on the verge of extinction. Our main characters, a mix of international names that probably aren't familiar to you, are our last line of defense. They're warriors whose only mission in life is to successfully operate a giant, mechanized suit with another person by syncing up their minds, thoughts and feelings (a term the movie calls "the drift") in order to kill a force of invading monsters before they destroy all of mankind.
This is Pacific Rim. It's a ballsy, hardened movie full of people with nothing left to lose. They barely care about each other, and you may not care much about them. But that's okay. The movie never really asks us to. Instead we're invested in their mission, their teamwork, their eccentricities and the fact that this is truly an international operation. No one is entirely likable and everyone is flawed because they have to be. It's all they know. The character you'll probably like the most is Ron Perlman's Hannibal Chau, a seedy gangster who sells monster parts on the black market. He's flashy and nasty, and brings to mind some of our favorite futuristic underworld types from past sci-fi cult hits like Total Recall, District 9, The Matrix and Escape from New York.
This is Pacific Rim, a movie that may foreshadow the future of the summer blockbuster with its international cast and international storyline. This isn't a film about American heroes; this is one where the entire world comes together to defeat a common enemy. You'll find yourself rooting for characters from Russia and Australia -- heck, the film's lead female is played by Rinko Kikuchi, an actress who's more popular abroad than she is here in the states. It's refreshing and different, and as the international box office becomes a much bigger part of the creative process, it's something we may see a lot more of in years to come.
This is Pacific Rim, where character teamwork trumps character development. Where the battles are front and center, and so exhilarating to watch you'll wonder whether they're secretly being controlled by the hands of some 11-year-old kids high above. Kids so in love with an idea and so passionate about its execution that you can't help but want to join in on the fun.