12/07/2013

Pacific Rim

Usually when a massive career opportunity slips away a person reacts by having a drink, a cry and eating far too much chocolate but Guillermo del Toro did none of these things (that I'm aware of) when The Hobbit fell into Peter Jackson's hands and simply made Pacific Rim instead. An sci-fi actioner that's been sold on the fact that it's robots vs. monsters, it may not have the star power of other summer blockbusters but what it lacks in movie stars it makes up with an intriguing premise and awesome action that thankfully doesn't veer into Michael Bay territory.

A swift prologue explains that in the near future Earth is under attack from 'Kaiju' (Translation: strange beast) who are killing millions and draining the planets resources for an unknown reason. To combat this, robots known as 'Jaegers' (Translation: hunter) are built to fight the bastards and try and gain control of the situation but soon more and more monsters are floating up from a strange portal and giving humanity very little chance of survival. Idris Elba's commanding officer, Rinko Kikuchi's revengeful rookie and Charlie Hunnam's washed-up, hot-headed, transatlantic-accented pilot along with some deeply unfunny scientists (Charlie Day and Crispin Glover-a-like Burn Gorman) lead the charge against the beasts and all have their own reasons for doing so.

Most end of the world blockbusters tend to lose me due their gung-ho Americanisms and Pacific Rim is a very international affair. Americans, Brits, Australians and the Japanese all band together so it doesn't feel like Uncle Sam has swooped in to save the day because the rest of the world are too dopey to know what to do. And although the film lacks humour, a decent script and a charming leading man, it's a refreshing change to watch a summer movie that isn't based on or a sequel to something.

Del Toro is obvously a huge fan of Japanese monster movies as there are references all over the shop and all the monsters are well thought-out creatures with an individual skill and look. Remember when people said the Transformers cartoon was only made to sell the toys? Well they could start a toy range, playing cards and endless computer games from Pacific Rim because there's so much depth to each monster whether they suddenly sprout wings or spew poisonous acid at their enemies. They're a joy and better yet, you can clearly see what's going on even when they're locked in a fight with the robots.

True, there's a massive hole in the story that's hard to not ignore, but Pacific Rim is loads of fun, looks gorgeous and seems like it was made by someone who genuinely loves the genre he's paying homage to.