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Dir. Guillermo Del Toro
With a number of literate fantasy films such as Pan’s Labyrinth behind him, as well as accomplished action fare such as Hellboy, Guillermo Del Toro has the reputation for being one of the more interesting directors working in Hollywood today. Will he be able to add an air of sophistication to Pacific Rim, which might as well be called ‘Enormous Robots Fight Big Monsters for Two Hours’? Well, he certainly tries.
In the near future large monsters, known collectively as Kaiju, have appeared from the bottom of the ocean to attack cities and generally cause mankind more than a slight bit of a bother. So the world’s nations put their heads together to try and stop this menace, and come up with huge robots powered by two human pilots sharing a mental link. One of these pilots is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who soon disappears after the loss of his brother. But as the Kaiju increase their attacks, General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) decides it’s time for one last stand with a depleted fleet of robots. As Becket meets new partner Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), the stage is set for a battle for humanity.
Oh, Del Toro really does try with this. A nod to Japanese monster movies such as Godzilla, this does have a creeping sense of fun and Del Toro certainly knows how to stage a fight sequence or two. But it’s played almost too straight, with all the cliches - Heroic sacrifices, nerdy scientists, mismatched partners, a gruff authority figure hiding a secret and even a ‘stirring speech’ to save the Earth - whacking you in the face left, right and center. The only real levity is a cameo from Ron ‘Hellboy’ Perlman as a mad dealer in deceased monster parts.
It’s entertaining – and as fighting robot movies go, it’s better than Transformers (but then, so is being kicked hard in sensitive areas) – and is a good summer blockbuster. But in the inevitable sequel, perhaps Del Toro can show a bit more of the playfulness and originality that have made him so successful in the past.