Reel Review | Pacific Rim

Share this post

Giant robots versus giant monsters. Although there is a little more to it, those five words pretty much sum up “Pacific Rim,” the newest film from director Guillermo del Toro. When the monsters and robots are fighting it’s like a boys wet dream (or in this case, a film geek), but the film really slows down with loads of exposition and clichéd characters when it’s trying to push the simple storyline forward. Plot points are brought up but never expanded upon and most of the characters are so one dimensional and basic stereotypes that you never really feel any sort of bond or affiliation to any of them. It’s a shame too, as there were some really cool ideas at the core of the film that could have been expanded for greater drama. That being said, there were enough geeky elements that kept me entertained during the non battle sequences, but if you’re expecting Shakespeare then you’re watching the wrong movie. Another bizarre element to the story is that the tone seems to make a dramatic shift a quarter way through. It starts off with an overall slightly serious tone for the first act while the last two acts, which include most of the action, has a lighter and comedic element to it (a couple of the gags were the best I’ve seen in a film this year). It felt like watching two separate films. On their own both work well, but as a single film it feels a little strange and jarring. I wanted one or the other, but not both. My biggest issue with the film when it came to the story though is that there really wasn’t a crowd cheering moment. I think it falls on the fact that the Kaiju (monsters) don’t have any personality. The story focuses on the Jaegers (robots) and the group of men that are controlling them. Apart from destroying the world, the antagonists have zero development so you never find yourself rooting against them. I was so desperate to have one of those crowd cheering moments- which Pacific Rim is sorely lacking. As for the acting, there really isn’t much you can say when they really don’t have much to work with here. Each actor puts in a good performance, but the star of the show is the effects and it seems Guillermo was well aware of that.  Rating: 17 / 25

Going into the film my biggest fear was that it would be hard to make out what was going on screen during the battle sequences, kind of in the same manner that it’s been for the Transformers movies from Michael Bay. Even though the battles take place at night and usually in the rain which kind of masked some of the finer detail, I almost always had a sense of what was happening on screen. Guillermo does a great job of mixing close ups along with long shots and the editing had a natural flow to it. These things combined were never perfect, but I never felt like I was cheated out of seeing something. One of the coolest things about the battle sequences is that the Kaiju and Jaegers had real weight to them. With the amount of CGI used for the battles you could practically consider Pacific Rim an animated film, but there were still times that I actually felt like I was watching a man in a suit reminiscent of the classic Toho films. Outside of the battle sequences the film looks equally as good. Guillermo has a knack of moving the camera around for dramatic purposes  just to the point where it doesn’t call attention to itself or becomes annoying. He’s also done an admirable job of creating a believable world which I can only assume was mostly green screen during principal photography. Even though a large portion of the film is at night, the 3D does a good job with creating the extra sense of depth and also pushing the screen convergence with a few gags at the same time.  Rating: 20 / 25

As I stated in the visual section, there was a sense of weight to the Kaiju and Jaegers and the sound had a huge part in creating that illusion. You could feel the punches and body slams as the cities were being destroyed during the battle sequences. The one problem was that it became too much. The film was so loud that near the end of it my ears were exhausted. I couldn’t distinguish between a building being smashed or a Kaiju being chopped up. It all started to sound the same. The mix was a little rough as well as I sometimes had a hard time understanding what the characters were saying during the ruckus.  As I said, it is a loud movie! When it comes to the score, composer Ramin Djawadi (“Game of Thrones,” “Iron Man”) has done a great job of creating a thematic score which keeps up with the visuals. Along with guitarist Tom Morello, they’ve crafted a main action theme that in a weird way sounds modern but also feels like something Lalo Schifrin would have written in the 70’s. He also mixes in choral elements as well as a thumping brass section that reminded me of Akira Ifukube‘s “Gojira” score. The quieter cues aren’t as effective, but I consider this to be one Djawadi’s best scores. Rating: 19 / 25

I’m not mincing words when I say this was easily the best time I had watching a movie all year! The film took me back to when I was a kid playing with my Shogun Warriors using my Guns of Navarone play set as the backdrop. Often times I had to pinch myself because I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing on screen. Not for what it was, but for the fact that a studio actually gave a lot of money to have a film like this made. The film is far from perfect, but as a piece of entertainment it’s one of the best of the year! Rating: 25 / 25

Overall Rating: 81 / 100


(If you’ve seen the film, what are your thoughts and ratings?)

Leave a comment!



Dave Ziemer has been reviewing movies for over ten years. He is the founder and was the Program Director of SiriusXM Radio's Cinemagic channel.