‘Pacific Rim’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:24 am,

Jaeger Gypsy Danger in Pacific Rim  Pacific Rim Review

While the storyline and emotional core aren’t strong, the action and spectacle are, and del Toro builds his world well enough to create plenty of future opportunities.

In Pacific Rim we are greeted by an imminent future in which humanity has been besieged by giant monsters known as “Kaiju,” which emerge from a dimensional rift deep beneath the Pacific Ocean in order to wreak havoc on humanity. To combat this threat, humanity comes together to create “Jaegers,” giant robots controlled by two mind-linked pilots.

At first, the Jaegers seem like the perfect deterrent for the Kaiju menace; but when the monsters start getting smarter and deadlier – and Jaegers begin falling quicker than they can be rebuilt – mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. Our last hope lies with the desperate plan of Marshall Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and his handful of remaining Jaeger pilots, including war-worn veteran  Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and rookie Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), an unlikely pair who may prove to be the best pilot team the world has ever seen.

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim1 Pacific Rim Review

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in ‘Pacific Rim’

We can make this short and easy: If the spectacle of big robots battling it out with big monsters is all you’re interested in, then Pacific Rim is going to be a five-star experience that you should wholly enjoy in the biggest IMAX 3D theater you can find (earplugs recommended). However, if you require a deeper story and mythos to sell you on all the spectacle? You will get plenty of mythos, but despite a parade of “cool moments,” a mishandled central storyline ultimately makes the experience a hollow one.

Director Guillermo del Toro is known for his wonderful imagination and abilities as a filmmaker – demonstrated in  signature works like Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies – and Pacific Rim is alive and crackling with some of his best work. From the robot and monster designs, to the well-staged battle sequences and overall concept, Pacific Rim is something uniquely its own within the crowded genre of summer blockbusters (this is no Transformers – and I mean that in the best way), while still (borrowing?)(Paying homage to?)(Stealing from?) a laundry list of other American and Japanese movies and TV series. (Read about a few of those possible inspirations HERE.)

Pacific Rim Gypsy Danger vs. Kaiju Level 4 Pacific Rim Review

Best of all, there’s a pervading sense of fun and  joy that the director has infused his passion project with; the goal is to entertain and entertain it does, for the most part (it does get cartoony, but that cartoon is still pretty fun). On the downside, there are plenty of moments that will indeed seem less like homages and more derivative copy of other films not necessarily even related to the “Kaiju/Mecha” sub-genre. See if you can catch those Independence Day and/or Deep Blue Sea moments and you’ll know the sort of “borrowing” I’m referring to.

The script – co-written by del Toro and Clash of the Titans scribe Travis Beacham – is not impressive. The story is straightforward enough, but an abundance of sub-plots often makes it feel scattered-brained. The emotional core and character development are even more unfocused: this is supposedly Raleigh and Mako’s story we are being told – and Hunnam and Kikuchi are both solid leads with solid chemistry – but beyond a couple of superficial dramatic moments, there is no real conflict between our central characters, and no real arc for them to complete as individual characters. In short: our protagonists are often the least interesting parts of the film, which inevitably means a sort of detached viewing experience.

Idris Elba in Pacific Rim 2013 Pacific Rim Review

Idris Elba in ‘Pacific Rim’

Oddly enough it is Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost who is the most dynamic character in Pacific Rim, and seems to get the most complete and engaging character arc of the whole ensemble. Elba (by now well established for his talent to stand out even in bit roles – see: Prometheus or Thor) walks away owning every one of the many scenes he’s in – which is great for him, but is also clear indication that the writers are not driving the story with full control of the wheel.

Subplots involving Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) and Burn Gorman (Dark Knight Rises) as dueling expert scientists in the Kaiju field – or Max Martini (The Unit) and Robert Kazinsky (True Blood) as a conflicted father/son Jaeger team – similarly make good use of talented actors, at the expense of a focused, streamlined story. Hellboy star Ron Perlman exists in this movie purely to ham it up for his old pal del Toro, and does so admirably. (P.S.: don’t leave the theater before a special mid-credits scene.)

Chalie Day in Pacific Rim  Pacific Rim Review

Charlie Day in ‘Pacific Rim’

The mythos and world-building are well done, there’s the right touch of winking humor – but again, certain sub-plots (like an anti-Kaiju wall) are never followed to conclusion and come off as distraction. The actual mechanics of the sci-fi technology is hastily explained and then craftily circumvented, so that the many, many, gaps in logic and plot are not all that distracting from the enjoyment of watching a hulking robot slamming on freakish monsters.

The infusion of anime themes and tropes is balanced enough to distinguish the film from, say, Transformers, without veering too far into the more obtuse or abstract styles of storytelling that often discourage Western viewers from embracing anime. Del Toro’s imagination being what it is, this is “East meets West” in the best way possible.

Battle of Tokoyo in Pacific Rim Pacific Rim Review

The sound design is awesome – and by awesome I mean very, very, loud. Actual dialogue sometimes had a cavernous echo to it that made it hard to make out – but whether that was just my theater or the movie itself, I can’t say for sure. This is definitely an IMAX experience to be had; but the post-converted 3D, while very well done, doesn’t feel as necessary. A 2D IMAX experience would be more than sufficient – but if you are a big fan of the robot/monster stuff, the extra splurging will be worth it to you.

On the whole, Pacific Rim has its creator to thank for elevating it above so many similar and forgettable action blockbusters, through sheer creativity, love and force of will. While the storyline and emotional core aren’t strong, the action and spectacle are, and del Toro builds his world well enough to create plenty of future opportunities for re-visits, spin-offs, multi-media projects and everything else fans (and movie studios) love in a good fanboy franchise.

517845197 3 620 439 Pacific Rim Review

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Pacific Rim is now in theaters. It is 131 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language.

If you want to discuss the film without ruining it for others, head over to our Pacific Rim SPOILERS DISCUSSION. To hear the Screen Rant editors discuss the film amongst themselves, stay tuned for the Pacific Rim episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. I really enjoyed this movie, probably because I didn’t let the small issues bother me as much as I let the big moments wow me. The Mako arc isn’t great, and the Aussie story isn’t too compelling but if you can let yourself smile at some of the silly moments (The sword reveal, for example) rather than scoff you’ll have a great time. I probably would have scored it closer to 4/5 but I can understand people who can’t get past the character moments not being able to see the robots for the humans as it were.

  2. Anybody think the “drift” thing sort of didn’t make sense? It was to share the neural load, right? So why didn’t they build a computer AI that could do that? Isn’t that how modern helicopters and jet fighters work? And ironically, the Jaeger team has those. And why put a pilot IN the Jaeger at all? We’re moving towards unmanned drones. Would make more sense to have the pilot control the Jaeger from a far. Isn’t the pilot more valuable than the Jaeger? They can rebuild a Jaeger but finding a pilot who could fight like Raleigh is harder, right?

    • Detonating the final bomb would’ve been impossible without a pilot in there. Also, interdimensional travel could’ve disrupted communications.

      • God_BBS Wow, good point.

        Jonathan – “piloting giant robot = AWESOME, only explanation needed.” Hahaha, yeah.

        Mitch Yeah, but still.. I would imagine in the real world we would use nanomites or bio warfare, like the aliens dying because of germs in War of the Worlds.

        • John L – You think so far out of the box that you’re no longer in it. Human instinct goes a long way. Yes your technology madness sounds good, but in the end what is to happen when the “nanomites” get wiped by EMP-ish weapon used by the kaiju? Don’t get me wrong; the technology used even in our modern warfare is way advanced, but for instance why are there actual human snipers instead of some machine pulling that trigger?

          Calm down dude. You didn’t get paid the big bucks. Lol!

    • Also you have to think about the technology level.

      Can you imagine the complexity if it was an AI system, the most advanced AI we currently have (or know about) Asimo barely has the motor skills of a 2 year old. The advancement in AI tech to make a combat capable machine, well bring on Skynet.

      If it’s computer assist like a fighter plane targeting system that wouldn’t work as it’s the neural load of actually moving the thing that’s the problem. To have a computer to help with that well we’re back to the point above.

      As for unmanned drone, again the complexity of the control system transmission bandwidths and lag time would reduce reaction times by a couple of seconds easy, by that time the Jaeger would be in million bits.

      Besides…. piloting giant robot = AWESOME, only explanation needed.

    • Wow you’re version of the movie would have been boring :L

  3. Too much analysis for me, guys. This type of movie is supposed to be fun, and dissecting it like this doesn’t make much sense to me. Enjoy it for what it is, a comic book come to life, and leave the analysis for those films that may warrant it.

    • Hence = Pilot Giant Robot = AWESOME no need to look any deeper than that.

  4. Great movie. A Jaeger would sure come in handy during a sharknado.

  5. This movie was probably the most entertaining movie I’ve seen since Iron Man 1. The wow factor is a lil different, but everything about this movie felt right. All the actors are believable in a movie with a somewhat cartoony premise.

    I’m perfectly glad to ignore any faults anyone can point out because this movie is pure fun, not the kind of fun that studios try to package and sell. I actually enjoyed all the subplots, I liked all the characters. This movie is what it needed to be and I hope it does well at the box office.

  6. Calling it now, in the sequel the aliens make a bigger and badder version of gipsy danger to use agianst the humans, and to fight it we,make a cyborg out of a dead kaiju

  7. I gave it a 7/10, 7.5/10 in 3D… I think If they took the story a little more seriously. It would have been elevated from good/fun to epic. Maybe I’m getting old and have watched too many films but I found myself dissecting many aspect of the film which I wasn’t happy with or why didn’t they do that! They had some really good concepts in there with the post apocalyptic world, giant mechs, and mind bending technology!

    I found myself asking, “where are the projectile weapons” you would think with the technology they have to build the Yagers they would equip them with a few cannons or laser beams, at least to soften them up, You would think going toe to toe with a 2000 ton kajui would be a last resort. I know I am being anal and a bit of an anorak, but you expect these things coming from this type of genre! Why not mine the entrance to the fisher? or attack it with drones first is another question I found myself asking.

    I felt as doh the setting was too far forward, like watching Pacific rim II or III even. The glory days and early years would have been a more interesting setting, (could see room for a prequel) building towards a trilogy with the fall of the yager program and a last stand which we was witnessing. The apocalyptic world and building of the wall was an interesting if brief back story, would have been nice to see some more of. The whole drift interface tech was a kool feature which could have been given more depth. One of my gripes with american movies is their overuse of jocks, Raligh made a point to say that him and his brother where nothing in highschool, not sporty! So I found myself thinking why have you cast a textbook looking hero character! Could barely tell the difference between Raligh and the Aussie block. If you really wanna follow the genre and your saying its peoples mental capacity which influences how good a yager pilot you are why not put an outsiders/geek looking guy as the main protagonist. Could have had psychopaths controlling yagers (robocopII) lol..

    My last gripe and I’m generally just being over critical as I did really like the film was the overuse of night time action scenes, I was actually quite cheesed that the majority was at night, whilst any day time action was a flash back or news feed. Overall I really liked Pacific Rim, definitely in going in the Blue Ray collection. I just feel it slightly missed the mark on being an Epic great film.

  8. one word (or rather a name actually) ….. GLaDOS

  9. If you spent your childhood being scared out of your wits by Godzilla, and the hundreds of B SciFi films from the 50s &60′s, you are going to LOVE Pacific Rim. This film is be all end all tribute to all those Japanese, American, and all the international monster movies from the day. While watching Pacific Rim I was transported to 1970 sitting in my car at the monster triple feature at our local drive-in. I felt the need to beep my car horn when the bad dudes were getting smashed by the monster hero.

    I’m a old guy, like 64, and see a few films I think might be for me. Usually I’m disappointed. I did like the new Superman and Prometheus films. I hesitated on Pacific Rim because of some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I took a chance and went to the 11:45 AM Senior $5.50 showing. Pacific Rim is a corny, scarey, silly, well made tribute to a type of movie that is no longer made, and one of the best times I have had at the local movieplex in a long, long, time.

    I will buy the BluRay DVD of Pacific Rim to go with my copy of
    The Mysterians

    Thank you Mr Guillermo Del Toro. Job well done….

  10. This was easily one of the best movies of 2013. It’s a shame that it’s not making Transformers-type movie, because it is soooo deserving of a trilogy.

  11. I really enjoyed the movie. I tend to agree with the poster who compared it to IM1. I have heard so much bad things about it, total flop, complete bust, etc. I love summer movies, total escapism. And PacRim fit the bill perfectly. I watched it with my 16 yo son and he enjoyed it just as much as I did. I thought the fight scenes in MOS were jaw dropping, these were right up there. I purposely made myself not ask questions and just wanted to enjoy the spectacle. For the record, I did the same with District 9 and Real Steel – both personal faves. Everyone did a more than decent job, glad to see Perlman and Idris. Spend the money for 3D and kick back and enjoy.

  12. I give this film a 4.5. While others complain about plot holes, I found the less is more approach to be appropriate here. Plot explanations as to how the giant robots worked, why we chose to make them human like, etc, would have detracted from the fun aspects of the film. No one needs to hear lame scientific explanations that inevitably would not have made any sense.

    Instead we just get the goods. Giant robots fighting giant monsters. All of it is visually spectacular with an exciting and powerful ending. For anyone who grew up watching shows like Voltron and Robotech, this film delivers what you have always wanted to see.

    If you aren’t into giant robots fighting giant monsters, then stay away. This just won’t be your kind of film.

  13. Reviews blah,blah,blah. It’s just one persons opinion. Nobody likes everything. Everyone has different tastes. So just pay your money or don’t go. People! in case you didn’t know movies aren’t real. Hello! They’re there to take you to a dream world for a couple of hours. Sorry to say then you have to go back out in the real world and most of the time that really sucks. That’s my review.

    • @ghost – and your review about the movie was? Lets see if you can follow directions. ‘Pacific Rim’ Review. Key word being REVIEW.


  14. Charlie Day stole the show. That is all.

  15. This was Del Toro’s “Passion Project”?????? It was flat and lacked any kind of passion what so ever. I know people like to say “You don’t need depth in a movie like Pacific Rim” but COME ON dude, at least write a decent story with some interesting dialog, edit it properly and have your actors earn their pay. The acting was wretched and the only decent parts (Robot/Monster fights) were beyond cheesy. It was hyped up to be this groundbreaking epic movie that would take the fights to places we’d never expect. It failed to deliver on all levels, for me at least.

    -Three words “acting was wretched”. *facepalm

      • @Riverl – I agree with your comment. The movie was to revolve around the jaegers and the Kaiju. Of course a little backstory with the human element. But this cronotronicdextra can simply be categorized as a tasteless critic. The cast was quite beautiful without cramming the movie with A listers.

  16. I’ll be honest after I first saw the film I felt a bit let down. All the hype around it sold it as something epic and new in the monster movie which it wasn’t. It was predictable and the story fell flat more than once (c’mon the gipsy is the jaeger with a nuclear reactor in it? the moment I heard this i knew how it would end). I’m a big sci fi and anime fan and it ripped off/paid homage to a LOT of other stuff already out there. I grew up on robot jocks and godzilla; I’ve seen neaon genisis evangelion. Character stuff was where it flattened out or just got plain trope heavy. Marshall was bound to sacrifice himself-I knew from the start that wasn’t a tin of altoids. I knew Raliegh’s brother was going to die a few minutes in. Or the whole thing with Mako; I liked what they tried to do but they just didn’t pull it off. I’m not the first person to point out how much charlie day’s character (which I liked) resembled rick morranis from ghost busters because the actor himself said as much. Fun summer smash stuff film? yes. Epic monster movie? meh. I think if it was marketed as an homage instead of something new I would have liked it more. I think 3 out of 5 is fair.

  17. Come on guys worth a four any day of the week. Best ‘Big’ film so far of the Summer, shame it isn’t going to make lots of money for the studio

  18. I had a great time watching this movie. Keep them coming!

  19. wait, so does he end up canceling the apocalypse?

    or does it end up pushing through with the original date? scheduling is tough during these summer months.

  20. How to tell when you’ve seen a really bad movie?

    Young children jump up out of their seats before the very end and start leaving.

    You have got to be just plain awful to make children anxious to go home.

  21. Bring on gODZILLA !

  22. I am only ten minutes into watching Pacific
    Rim and all I can say is they better have paid at least
    fifty percent of residuals to Hideaki Anno the brilliant creator
    And director of Neon Genesis Evangelion…
    Sure there are some subtle differences but by far
    I haven’t seen such a blatant rip off of another artists
    work. Is this akin to being the difference between
    Star Wars and Space Balls? And that was meant to
    be a comical farce! I wonder if Eva was never made
    Would this have also been made? I guess at the very least it’s better than Atlantic Rim. Still, as a person whose life was changed by watching Ebangelion and it’s follow up movies, I couldn’t be more depressed than to see millions of dollars spent on making this, when a true live action version of Neon Genesis should have been attempted!! I will watch the rest of this movie and then try to give it another review ( this time withou bias ) but if it ends up that these Jaegers actually have souls themselves or of this goes in anyway towards religious revelation and human evolution ( instrumentality ), I will puke in my trash can and sit in the corner of my room with my Ayanami statue and cry like a little boy. BTW, I am 40 years old this January… So look for my second review and hopefully I won’t have to hose down my waste bin and Rei can remain purched atop my bookshelf watching overs while I sleep… Oh God… Pls be kind in the next two hours or however long the rest of this movie is. So far the special effects are great and the acting is sub-par, but everything from the water in the pilot’s helmets, to their suits worn to connect to the Jaegers, the elevator that the Jaegers move on and the synchronization levels are all too familiar in a scandalous act of plagerism!!!
    Be back when this is over with…

    • You, sir, is a blind fanboy. Or you are an amateur at mech-related franchise.
      Not that I’m not a fan of Evangelion, but I fail to see how this can be considered its rip off.
      Synchronizing with the mech is a concept that existing long before Eva, and was used tons of time after. The real uniqueness of Evangelion is how the mech are actually bio-construct abominations that can melt the pilot and do its own thing (even then, it was a concept already used by Getter).
      Consider the mechas of Pacific Rim are nothing like that…

  23. I have watched anime and sci-fi for over 20 years and I am simply pointing out my desire and frustration to have had a live action version of Neon Genesis instead of something very similar…. Even just small things like the tips of her hair were blue… I’ve watched other mecha anime and found them to be at least a bit more original. I know I not the only one who feels this way… And even if I stood alone, it’s my opinion. Probably laying on the floor of the editing room was a whole sequence dedicated to the Maji, that time didn’t permit to be added. It just had that Eva feel and to say that it didn’t is just trying to be confrontational. There are obvious similarities which you can’t deny. Still. I said it was a decent movie with a B- or C+ rating… I’m just expressing my opinion and backing it up with references, which is better than just blindly saying “this is an Eva rip-off). I tried to prove my hypothesis as best I could this late after a rough night of work and having that excited expectation to have something cool to watch later… And I did… But the similarities to my all time favorite OVA and movie extras was fair enough for me to express.. If I offended your delicate senses I’m sorry.
    Don’t lose any sleep over it. I won’t…

  24. Sorry Kineda if I offended you at this early hour…I simply voiced an opinion, shared by many, but also pointed laz s about it over the years. And just to get something straight, I am no “fan boy”!
    I have passion when it comes to a few external elements outside of my family. I generally do not post on the web, because as Morrissey said “there’s always someone somewhere with a big nose who knows and will trip you up and laugh when you fall”. I suppose that is you, except perhaps for the big nose. Sorry to ruffle your panties so early in the morning… Have a splendid day, where ever you may be. Perhaps

    • Nothing to worry about. I’m not offended, just a bit irritate of people keep saying OMG EVA rip off(Not just about this film, a lot of other thing).

      There are rip off, and there are call-back/inspiration.

      I love EVA, yes. But EVA itself was not all original.
      The concept of piloted robot began with Mazinger, robot using military weapon and deployed by militaristic organizations was from Gundam/Macorss. Even piloting by synching with the robot, as well as the robot having its own will and being a godly eldritch abomination existed since Getter Robo (not the anime, read the manga).

      EVA just had the luck of being somehow… well, not exactly well-executed if you look at what the series went through, but it stumbled its way into defining this particular branch of humongous mecha somehow.

      Since then, several traits of EVA (Rei-like pilot, synchronization) were adopted to other series. Many series were even more EVA-like than Pacific Rim(Rahxephon and Fafner came to mind).
      The fact that it inspired/affected so many series and get called back so frequently is a testament of how huge an impact it made, not something to be frown upon.

      And consider PR was not mean to be original, but a love letter to Kaijuu and mecha in general, the call back was to be expected.

      I also kinda fail to see why you felt so frustrated at not having an EVA film. Grant, there are no live action film (and I suspect said film will be terrible anyway, it’s not easy to translate that kind of series to live. So I’d settle for call backs instead of finding myself nerd raging over the bastardization), but there is a series of animated movies being released for the past years.

  25. Special effects were great and a great imagined world but could of done so much more with it. Very weak script and flat acting from most of the cast apart from Idris Elba, Charlie and Burn Gorman. Like someone else said it could of been epic but instead it felt like a movie from the early 2000s because it was so shallow and predictable.