Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim is awesome, scary, weird, exciting, exuberant, and ridiculous -- basically everything you want from a sci-fi action movie. And let’s not mince words here: This isn’t a drama with action elements; it’s not a gothic horror set in space; this film is equal parts explosive action and nerdy science fiction, and that’s it. If you’re not on board with humans piloting robots to fight giant monsters, it’s best to come to terms with that right now.
Still interested? Here’s the idea: One day, a huge, angry monster climbed out of a tectonic fault in the Pacific Ocean, and started destroying cities. Humans eventually killed it using bombs and tanks and what not, but another one came along six months later, then another, then another. Soon, humanity started pooling its defense resources to combat what was apparently an ongoing threat, constructing equally huge mechanical soldiers called Jaegers (a derivative of the word “hunter,” but a concept referred to by those in the sci-fi know as a mech), which two pilots control together using a tandem neural interface that synchs directly with their brains. Using a mix of built-in weapons and hand-to-hand combat, the pilots fight and eventually kill the monsters, which they’ve determined are traveling to Earth through some kind of dimensional portal in the tectonic fault. And what do the humans call these monsters? Kaiju.
This fact alone should tell you something. Kaiju originates as a Japanese word roughly translating as “strange monster,” but more pertinently here, Kaiju is the name for this entire genre of sci-fi, where massive creatures step on buildings and threaten to destroy civilization. Godzilla movies are Kaiju films. But make no mistake, co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro didn’t name his creatures Kaiju out of a lack of creativity, he’s paying tribute here, as he does throughout the film. As a matter of fact, true nerdery aficionados will notice del Toro paying direct homage to the legendary kaiju/mech anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, if they look closely: Rinko Kikuchi’s portrayal of a Jaeger pilot struggling with a traumatic past nods pretty clearly to Evangelion’s character Rei Ayanami, with her anxious posture and bob haircut. She even has blue highlights.
But all this isn’t to say that you need to be a devoted fanboy in order to enjoy Pacific Rim. Far from it, you just need to enjoy enthralling action sequences and terrifying monsters. Which, of course, is exactly what we know del Toro can deliver. leave a comment --Cammila Collar