Movie review: There's something really familiar about 'Pacific Rim'

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJuly 11, 2013 

You will not be bored with Pacific Rim. Even if you don't like the movie, it's a long way from boring. Some might even find it fun. A big chunk of the film's entertainment value is figuring out where writer/director Guillermo del Toro got his ideas.

Not much here is original.

To put it kindly, the concept "borrows" heavily from decades worth of animated TV creatures and characters, and from a couple of recent movie franchises. Think Transformers and Voltron meet Godzilla with assistance from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and G.I. Joe.

Or something close.

A violent race of giant creatures called Kaiju emerge from the bottom of a hole in the Pacific Rim. Over a decade, they decimate the world's coastal cities. Humans battle back by creating an army of Jaegers. They are giant machines designed to look like people but are equally monstrous in size.

Think Transformers and Godzilla.

Dig a little deeper into the plot, and Transformers fades a little and other concepts come to mind. Two people have their brains joined together in order to pilot the Jaeger. Essentially, they become one in mind. One runs the machine's left side and the other the right. The best Jaeger bond is siblings or parent and child.

Raleigh Becket and his brother were among the elite Jaeger operators when a Kaiju gets the best of them and the brother dies. Years later, when world officials decide to close down the Jaeger program, Raleigh is solicited by his former boss to give defeating the Kaiju one last shot. He's teamed with Mako, a young woman who has never operated one of the machines and is seeking revenge.

The characters are as cookie cutter as the story. Charlie Hunnam (TV's Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) play Raleigh and Mako. Idris Elba (Prometheus) runs the operation and TV's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day handles the comic relief. This genre always works better if there's a little bit of fun thrown into the mix.

Day has fun and he's not bad, but the rest of the acting is so-so. But Pacific Rim isn't about acting. It's about action, so it's not the ensemble's fault. In a plot this shallow, there just isn't a lot to do.

All fun and any interest you'll find in this epic disaster, planet invasion clone is generated by the animators and CGI artists who have an absolute blast. The Jaegers and Kaiju have epic battles in storm swept harbors and on land. Sparks fly. Buildings crumble. People and vehicles get munched as they toss each other about.

Fun stuff and very well done. It is, however, draining. On and on it goes with each battle becoming more tedious than the one before. This story and its adventures clearly do not need 2:10 to tell.

Pacific Rim is a departure from the normal del Toro movie. That is, if you can call a del Toro movie normal. He's a brilliant writer and producer most often associated with horror flicks and is the writer/director of what many consider one of the best horror movies ever done, Pan's Labyrinth.

This isn't close to what he does best. Even worse, it's not even close to original.

-- Is Mr. Movie too hard on movies? Let him know at www.tricityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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