The majority of sci-fi films have introduced the alien threat as one coming from the stars, and Pacific Rim entertains that notion during its introduction. The truth is that the threat doesn’t come from above the atmosphere. Instead, it comes from beyond the depths of the ocean floor. It comes in the form of the giant, strange beasts titled the “Kaiju.”
The military manages to hold off the Kaiju attacks for a while, until the world leaders acknowledge that a larger, more powerful alternative is required. They agree to launch the Jaeger program – the construction of giant robots meant to stop the Kaiju and save humanity. The war begins, and the Jaeger initiative is wildly successful. Gigantic robots are constructed in many nations, including Russia, Australia, China, and the United States. Winning becomes the standard, until a new breed of Kaiju surfaces with devastating consequences.
Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”)) is a Jaeger pilot, more comfortable in combat than anywhere else in the world. He thrives in the field when he is paired with his big brother, Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff (“Homeland”)). They partner to operate the American Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, against the alien threat. The brothers are called to duty in the middle of the night. They pilot Gipsy Danger and face off against the largest Kaiju ever recorded. Yancy is killed. Gipsy is destroyed, and Raleigh is left devastated.
Five years later, the Kaiju problem has not been eradicated. Things have become far more complicated. Marshall Pentecost (“Prometheus” pilot Idris Elba) maneuvers to keep the Jaegar project alive, despite the world leaders cutting his funding. They choose to bet, instead, on a wall that will keep the Kaiju outside of the danger zone. Viewers find Raleigh among those vying for a position in building the wall. Pentecost recruits Raleigh once more, with the promise of piloting an improved version of Gipsy Danger.
Raleigh meets researcher Mako Mori, who has carefully screened the candidates to best replace his deceased brother as a co-pilot. Her research is impeccable, and soon, they attempt to engage in the ultimate mind meld to work together. The consequences are almost disastrous. Only Mako’s relationship with Pentecost saves her from being dismissed.
While the search for the ultimate soldier continues, rival scientists Geiszler (Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”)) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman (“The Dark Knight Rises”)) press one another for the origin of the Kaiju attacks. Their research discloses an astonishing fact about the Kaiju. Geiszler makes a desperate attempt to connect with a secretive member of the Hong Kong black market, while Becket once again dives into the experience of losing a loved one in order to succeed.
We watched “Pacific Rim” tonight in IMAX 3D and I will admit the following. This film is as much presentation as it is substance. The soundtrack is stunning. The scope of the film cannot be understated. That simple scene in the trailer when the aliens invade? It is so much larger and threatening in 3D. The insane, end of the world premise, is given substance in the most human moments of the film. “Pacific Rim” is the juxtaposition of a human story and a giant “robots vs. monsters” premise.
Acting highlights included Idris Elba’s fantastic duty-driven Marshall Pentecost. Rinko Kikuchi balances protocol, honor and emotion her role as Mako. Gorman and Day represent competing fields of science with great humor and accuracy. Perlman is del Toro’s comedic Ace-in-the-hole as Hannibal Chau.
The IMAX presentation of the film appeals to the senses. The absolute size of the Jaeger vs. Kaiju was is presented in a manner that makes one root on the good guys while feeling positively tiny. Director del Toro and his crew communicate the inhuman scope of the battle while never losing the mortality of the heroes.
We want to win, and we want to stay alive…and we want to still be human when the smoke clears.