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edge staff writer


Bigger is indeed better Pacific Rim'

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Sci-fi film delivers in a big way

Sometimes, you want to watch a film that is packed full of nuance. You want to see a film that challenges you, a film that defies simple explanation the sort of film that prompts a minutes-long diatribe in response to the question 'What's it about?'

Other times, you want relative simplicity. You want spectacle. You want good guys and bad guys and clear conflicts between them. You want a film that can be summarized in one sentence.

And if that sentence happens to be 'Giant robots fighting giant monsters,' well so much the better. 'Pacific Rim' will give you all the enormous battle spectacle you can handle. Everything about it is huge. Huge and a heck of a lot of fun.

'Pacific Rim' is set just a few years into our future, in a world that is at constant war. An interdimensional rift has opened at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Through this portal come giant monsters known as 'kaiju.' These massive monsters lay waste to every coastal city they find; standing skyscraper-tall, they cut a swathe of destruction everywhere they go.

To combat the threat, mankind developed gigantic fighting robots called 'Jaegers.' These enormous machines are piloted by teams of two (and occasionally three) via mental connectivity. It was long ago determined that one mind alone wasn't strong enough to pilot the Jaegers, so these pairs usually related, but not always do something known as 'drifting.' Their brains are connected neutrally, with each pilot serving as one hemisphere of the Jaeger's 'brain.'

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam, TV's 'Sons of Anarchy') was one of the best Jaeger pilots. But when his brother was killed during a kaiju fight, he drifted away. But he's brought back into the fold by program director Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, 'Prometheus'); the Jaeger program has been cut off by world governments, leaving Pentecost and his assistant Mako (Rinko Kikuchi, 'The Warped Forest') to carry on as best they can. Along with a few other Jaeger teams and researchers such as doctors Geiszler (Charlie Day, 'Monsters University') and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman, 'The Dark Knight Rises'), Pentecost does his best to maintain the Jaeger defenses despite the lack of support.

However, the influx of kaiju is increasing rapidly. Instead of months between attacks, it is weeks. Then days. It soon becomes clear that a new plan needs to be put into effect an all-or-nothing plan that will either save the world from the kaiju forever or doom humanity completely.

While the evolution of the summer movie season has led us to believe that every weekend features a major 'event' movie, there is no doubt that 'Pacific Rim' is the sort of huge mega-movie for which the term 'summer blockbuster' was invented. It is big in every sense of the word.

Big and awesome.

Look, this isn't the sort of film that's going to win points for its screenplay. There are a number of clich-ridden exchanges that are less than stellar in terms of literary quality. But writer/director Guillermo del Toro is that increasingly rare Hollywood animal a technically gifted cinematic craftsman who also carries a strong sense of story. There's a whiff of the auteur about him; even with a nine-figure budget, del Toro can still give you small moments scattered among the large. In a film built on a Brobdingnagian scale, he gives us enough flashes of the Lilliputian to let us care even as the spectacle threatens to overwhelm.

Because make no mistake this film is spectacular. 

The performances could have been cursory and the film wouldn't have suffered greatly. But instead, you have some surprisingly strong work. Hunnam is charismatic. Elba and Kikuchi both have some excellent moments. Day and Gorman provide some welcome humor as the comic relief; their dynamic is actually quite delightful. And Ron Perlman ('Crave') steals some scenes as a black-market dealer in kaiju parts. 

Still, there's really only one question that you need to ask yourself before going to see 'Pacific Rim' - do I want to see giant robots fighting giant monsters? It's relatively rare these days for a blockbuster viewing to hinge on one simple inquiry, but there you have it. 

If your answer is 'No,' well first of all, you're wrong. And secondly, this isn't for you. But if, like me, your answer is 'God yes,' then you will not be disappointed.

5 out of 5


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