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Pacific Rim 3D (AF)


Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Rob Kazinsky, Max Martini, Clifton Collins Jr, Burn Gorman, Larry Joe Campbell, Diego Klattenhoff, Brad William Henke

Director: Guillermo del Toro

The plot?

Simple - the world is under threat yet again, this time from giant reptilian creatures that rise from the seas and lay waste to cities in time-honoured building-smashing style established long ago by films like King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and their many ilk. Which leaves mere men to save the day using massive robots known as Jaegers which are “controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are scientifically synchronised’. And when defeat looms, its up to an ace pilot and his (female, naturally) copilot to save Mankind…

On the surface (and, almost all of the running time) Pacific Rim resembles yet another comic-book originated monster movie decorated with stunning special effects and comic-strip characterisation and dialogue to match. Its impact is undoubtedly viscerally effective: the robots are impressive (if surprisingly lacking in more modern and more lethal weaponry with which to kill the splendidly credible monsters they usually take on in best stomp-and-smash mano a mano genre style.

On this level, the film should find an enthusiastic audience in 12-year-olds raised on such action-heavy clones as Transformers. Indeed, I came to believe from the film’s unashamed emphasis on action rather than intellect or characterisation that perhaps Pacific Rim is dedicated more to spawning merchandise than trying for something new.

So look out for Pacific Rim figurines for Christmas if the movie makes waves at the box-office.

There’s a second film here, of course.

While this version is identical in plot and execution it could well be hailed by cineastes who are dedicated as much to moviemakers as to the movies they actually make. In this respect, it doubtless boasts a plethora of subtexts and a host of homages. And why do I suggest this?

Because the film is co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, the celebrated director of acclaimed art movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos and therefore worthy of deep auteur-aimed analysis.

“You pays your money and take your choice”.

Either way Pacific Rim is overlong and under-nourished in charactersation and dialogue. That said, the action sequences, while rather extended and often not very well lit, are rousing, Idris Elba acts a lot better than he needs to do as the commander of the Giant Robots on whom the future of Mankind rests and Ron Perlman is good value as the devious seller of monster parts. And, for good measure, there’s Ramin Djawadi’s noisy score to drown out some of the more egregious dialogue.

Weirdly, given the film's obvious delight in lurid, larger-than-life fantasy action, Pacific Rim is not a widescreen offering.

(The rating above is for the film as seen. For 12-year-old action-and-fantasy devotees, I'd raise that to 8/10 - but simply for the action sequences).

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warners. Technicolor.
131 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Jul 2013