Guillermo Del Toro has promised the world an H.P. Lovecraft film for years and he may have just quietly delivered it in Pacific Rim. In the not to distant future, a rift has open beneath the ocean that transports colossal monsters, called Kaiju (arguably Ancient Ones ala Lovecraft), to earth. The only thing that successful stops the Kaiju is Jaeger technology, giant robots controlled by two pilots. The pilots link on a subconscious level to control half of a Jaeger each with perfect coordination. When more powerful monsters than ever are poised to rise out of the rift, a retired pilot and a total rookie are teamed up as a last resort to hold off the extinction of humanity.
del Toro set out to make an airy summer action film and turned out another dark, brooding, and thoughtful genre film instead. It's not bleak like Pan's Labyrinth or Cronos, but it is very much grounded in a realistic look at warfare through the lens of mech/kaiju action. A doomsday clock hangs over the action reset every time a Kaiju is destroyed. Cities are leveled with a single punch and the heroes are shown to be on a suicide mission in the first five minutes of the film.
The message of Pacific Rim is a hopeful one despite the weightier world view. The only way to save the world and the future of humanity is cooperation. Using the "drifting" technique--very reminiscent of Lovecraft's writings on dreams and psychology--is extremely dangerous. It only works if the partners are in perfect sync with each other.
Those partners then have to rely on a thick metal shell to protect them as they pursue beasts bent on destroying life on Earth. The Jaeger is monitored by a huge team of technicians who do what they can to get the pilots back home safely. One slip up from any link in the chain sends the entire operation crashing down. Cooperation is the only way to succeed in this war.
The biggest flaw in Pacific Rim is simply the dialogue. It's very basic. del Toro and Travis Beacham set out to make a film that could be appreciated by adults and understood by children. A denser approach to the science and dystopian elements would have lifted the film above typical popcorn fair. It's far too easy to shut your brain off and miss out on the rich world building and fascinating characters since everyone talks in such plain and cliched language.
Pacific Rim is a serviceable sci-fi/action film that really can be enjoyed by older kids and adults alike. The world is ambitious even if the story and character traits are mundane.
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