RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
Of all the millions of lines, people and things that are just right in Pacific Rim, my favorite is a research scientist played by Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia infamy.
The world is crumbling, courtesy of skyscraper-sized beasts known as Kaiju who emerge from a wormhole to stomp buildings as though they are peanut shells. Just about everyone in the movie is understandably pissed off at the Kaiju but not Day’s character. He has wrist tattoos of the beasts — and although no scene confirms it — most likely a tramp stamp of them as well. Everyone describes him as a Kaiju groupie, and even though he sheepishly denies the accusations, it’s easy to identify with him. The Kaiju are amazing. If the world must be destroyed, hopefully it’s at the hands of colossal crustacean insectoids that shoot blue acid out of their mouths, have brains in both their heads and butts and drop pieces of poop so big they can fertilize entire farms.
Hopefully come Oscar time, the Kaiju are recognized for their outstanding performances in this high-class art film. They must be real creatures director Guillermo del Toro found and trained for the film, right? There’s no way CGI effects evolved to such a level they can replicate such majestic conquerors. And surely the human-piloted mechs the populace builds to rumble with the Kaiju are also real ‘bots, made in del Toro’s secret underground factory. Those robotronic heroes should own the best supporting actor category during awards season.
Pacific Rim rocks because it makes you feel just like Day, the least convincing doctor since Denise Richards as a Dr. Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. Giddy awe, not dread, is the only natural way to feel as the movie pumps sequence after sequence of mech-Kaiju throwdowns at you. Think back to prison movies and the way inmates fight during riots. It’s all haymakers, head-bashing and slamming bodies across rooms and down corridors. Multiply that by the algebraic variables of WTF and you approximate the battles in the gloriously plot-free movie, which may as well have been called Monster Alien-Robotron Prison Fight.
As if to prove its streetwise pimp cred, the movie rounds up the two main dudes from the ridiculously amazing Sons of Anarchy to help rassle the Kaiju. Charline Hunnam, whose Jax-beard is freshly shorn, and the wonderfully crusty Ron Perlman both do time here. And there’s also Rinko Kikuchi — famous for flashing her Kikuchi in Babel — showing off some acrobatic, Zero Samus Suit-wearing fisticuffs ability as Hunnam’s mech co-pilot. She plays Goose to Hunnam’s Maverick with nearly as much sexual tension.
Credit the screenwriters for crafting masterful dialogue that perfectly sets the tone. Lines such as “Raarr!” “Uhhgahk!” and “Yeeeaaaoah!” will surely be included in the next edition of Webster’s and work far better than any attempt at coherent speech. I also enjoy the way the movie’s narrative structure, which is basically prison fight, prison fight, prison fight, talking scene, prison fight, FINAL BATTLE. Pacific Rim is gloriously stupid, makes no apologies for its stupidity and revels in its stupendous stupor so well, it’s all you can do not to leap to your feet several times in the movie to applaud.
Everything a summer movie should be, Pacific Rim rocks hard and furiously, blasts by in a blur and leaves you wanting more. It may not be much for thinking, but boy does it give good rim.
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Written by Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro. Directed by del Toro. Rated PG-13. 132 minutes.