Twelve years after a crevasse opened in the eastern Pacific and monsters began to plague the Earth, humanity is on the ropes. Giant mechanized systems called Jaegers had given an edge to the united forces against the invaders, but a series of failures caused governments to give up on the two-person Machsuits and their heroism. The former commander of the unit has scrapped together one last attempt to beat the Kaiju as a new phase of the invasion threatens to wipe out all other human life on Earth. Can this rag-tag collection of heroes save the day?
If that synopsis doesn’t make the nature of Pacific Rim clear, then let me be blunt. It’s an overblown, noisy Saturday morning cartoon with only limited originality and plenty of confusion. When I left the theater, I immediately thought of the cheesy animated series Gigantor, which I watched as a kid, and I was unsurprised to discover later that director Guillermo del Toro used it as an inspiration. As an overblown, noisy Saturday morning cartoon, it offers a little bit of fun, but anyone over the age of 12 will not only guess most of what will take place, they may even predict the dialogue. That turns out to be a feature, as the noise from the sound effects tend to obscure some of the dialogue, but no one says anything too interesting or unpredictable anyway.
The characters and the situations come right out of comic-book and/or anime stock, giving the actors little to do but represent the old, familiar tropes, and at times that seems deliberate. The two scientists providing comic relief are reminiscent of C3PO and R2D2, if R2D2 could talk, and one character actually floats the Han Solo line, “Don’t get cocky, kid.” A nonsense interpersonal conflict between two pilots comes right out of Top Gun; I was surprised not to hear “You can be my wingman anytime!” when the subplot plodded to its inevitable conclusion. The commander, who gets the improbable name of Stacker Pentecost (what?), gives a speech that sounds like the outtakes from Bill Pullman’s speech near the end of Independence Day. And so on, and so on.
It’s not the Sharknado of cinema, but it’s not even a decent Godzilla movie. It makes the Matthew Broderick version of that franchise look like Macbeth. The effects are good, but the action so cartoonish that it’s impossible to care.
On the 5-point Hot Air scale, I give this a 2:
- 5 – Full price ticket
- 4 – Matinee only
- 3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
- 2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
- 1 – Avoid at all costs
There’s no reason to spend extra cash to watch this, but it’s not so awful as to require total avoidance. Pacific Rim is rated PG-13 for a brief bout of objectionable language and an avalanche of CGI violence, but it’s nothing too graphic. Pre-teens and young teens might like this as a popcorn flick (and it’s too intense for anyone younger), but adults will have better ways to spend their money.
Note: I watched the 2-D version of the film.