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Pacific Rim (2013)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman

Written By: Travis Beacham (also story), Guillermo del Toro Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

The Short Version

What a fun movie!

Pacific Rim is an excellent reminder of why the big screen experience is so great.

There’s action, there are giant robots, there are monsters… but there’s also a soul.

What so many other recent movies get wrong, Pacific Rim gets right.

If you’re looking for adventure and escape courtesy of a silver screen, go see Pacific Rim.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Giant robot and monster party!

Pairs Well With...


Great beer from the Pacific Rim.

“Don’t chase the rabbit.”

Pacific Rim is an outstanding reminder of why the real big screen theatre experience is still the best way to see a motion picture.

The premise of the movie involves skyscraper-sized alien monsters doing battle against skyscraper-sized human-controlled robots.  Those are big monsters, and those are big robots.  And when you’re at that theatre, they look big.  They feel big.  They sound big.  And with that, their world is big... and yours becomes small and easy to set aside while you escape into that big, larger-than life world for a couple of hours.

More than anything else, Pacific Rim is big fun.  Pure, explosive, unrestrained fun.

I’m sure that it’ll still be fun on blu ray and Netflix, come the time, but it won’t be the same.  The exciting, adventurous art that Guillermo del Toro and his comrades have created was meant to be displayed on the gigantic canvas of a gigantic screen, and deserves to be experienced as intended.  I’ll even take a step away from my usual habit and tell you that if possible, you should try to catch the movie in stereoscope (people who don’t get science call it “3D”), because for once, it’s not a gimmick.  Here, it serves the real purpose of making Pacific Rim feel even bigger, and when it comes to escapist adventure like this, if you’re not going big, you’re just going home.

But if you think all of the above means that Pacific Rim is just another empty effects festival of the sort made infamous by Michael Bay, guess again.  Michael Bay wishes he could make a movie as good and as enjoyable as Pacific Rim.  Sure, Guillermo del Toro is banking on his effects, but he’s showing them off in a way that the average human eyeball can keep up with and appreciate, and most importantly, he’s backing them up with real heart and soul.  It’s an intangible thing, to be sure, but it’s none the less immediately apparent, and that makes all the difference.  Pacific Rim is a movie that one can not only have fun with, but indeed, can actually care about.

Is it Shakespeare?  Of course it’s not.  It’s an amalgam of a zillion other adventure, disaster, robot, and alien plots that have come before; but it just happens to be an amalgam of the best parts, to the point where in many cases, Pacific Rim ends up being better than the movie it’s lifting an element from.  (Sorry, Independence Day; this flick is way better than you.)  Make a game of picking them out if you want.  Here’s the entire Godzilla franchise.  There’s RoboTech.  There’s Top Gun.  And hey, could it be… Voltron?!  Hell, yes, we’ve got some Voltron!  The lifts here are anything but a weakness; they’re a wonderful asset – a nonstop affirmation that the crew and the cast understand exactly what kind of movie they’re making and that they fully appreciate the genre they’re working in.  (The dedication at the end to Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda is pure class, by the way.)   The story doesn’t have to be deep; it just needs that extra layer or three to give it life and fun and soul, and Pacific Rim has those layers… and life, and fun, and soul.

And building-sized monsters.  And giant robots.

The care taken with designing the monsters and robots is impressive.  Each one is unique and plays as its own 25-storey character.  Each has its own look and its own fighting style, and thanks to pacing that the human eye and brain can follow, the audience is allowed to appreciate those sorts of details.  The effects are outstanding and never feel cartoonish; the robots and monsters fit into the real world without looking ridiculous.  The mechanism that audiences are shown for how the robots are controlled in interesting, and as the audiences see the pilots work, the translation of the movements they make to the actions of the robots is credible and makes perfect sense.  All of the conditions needed to suspend disbelief regarding the giants that inevitably make or break this story are satisfied, and so the audience members are free to drift into the spirit of things and just have fun.

I don’t know about you, but I was never able to do that during a Transformers flick.  Score another for Mr. del Toro… and for his cast of humans, who serve to enrich the appeal of the robots instead of taking away from it.  Our heroes are cool to watch without ever becoming obnoxious.  (It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite catch everyone’s name; faces are fine here.)  All of the characters are well played from top to bottom, without a stinker in the bunch.  Looking for standouts?  Idris Elba looks to be making a bid to play the either the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Great Britain in some future project (he’ll get my vote), and I’ll definitely be looking for more Hollywood projects from Rinko Kikuchi after this.

Meanwhile… I’m seriously considering seeing both of them again in Pacific Rim, at a theatre.  Yes, folks; it’s that good, and it’s that fun.  One of the two most fun movies I’ve seen so far this year, in fact.

Bottom line, Pacific Rim is why we go to the movies in the first place.  So take the hint and go already, while it’s still on a big screen.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2013

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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