Review: Pacific Rim Blu-ray
|REVIEWS - BLU-RAY REVIEWS|
It's like if Rock'em, Sock'em robots had a dirty affair with Avatar while Transformers watched...
I'll be the first to admit it...when I saw the trailer for Pacific Rim - at the cinema, nonetheless - I wept. Not physically, of course, but for the state of Hollywood and the cinematic art form.
Pacific Rim, as far as I could tell, looked like everything that was wrong with modern day Hollywood - a smorgasbord of CGI-sodden content that had little to no plot, story or general point of interest. Throw in the recognisable face or two, and I was resigned to hating it.
However, having just sat and gorged on all 134 minutes of [Guillermo] Del Toro's recent alien brawl fest, I've got to say...I was very, very wrong.
Plot...let's be having you
Focusing on the futuristic 2020's, Pacific Rim unfolds a world of supernatural disturbances caused by the ever-evolving Kaiju (translated in Japanese as 'strange creature' and first seen courtesy of the Daikaiju Godzilla in the 1954 Japanese release of the same namesake). However, unlike their Daikaiju ancestors Rim's Kaiju are learning, adapting to the struggling human resistance and returning - from an inter-dimensional portal on the floor of the Pacific Ocean no less - bigger, faster and stronger on each occasion.
Our tale, however, is set predominantly in 2025. Five years have passed since the initial Kaiju emergence and, while the Jaeger defence system - a go-to attempt by coastal nations, such as the US, Russia, and China, that created colossal, mind-melding war machines to combat the latest threat to humanity - had been initially successful, the conclusion now was that the program was an unviable option against an increasingly persistent and evolving threat. And so, in a last ditch attempt the remaining Jaeger are redeployed to the Hong Kong coastline to keep the Kaiju at bay while the 'wall' - which is intended to keep the alien-esque foe out - is finished.
However, Jaeger commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) - a former 'pilot' himself - can see that the wall is a futile plan doomed to fail, and so attempts to end the battle once and for all...through the destruction of the Kaiju's sub-Pacific portal. Conversely, Pentecost is aware that he will need his very best Jaeger pilots at hand, and so sets about recruiting Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a former pilot who turned his back on the Jaeger scheme following the tragic loss of his brother years before.
Beauty and the Brawn
Up to this point one could be forgiven for blowing off Pacific Rim as 'yet another alien slugfest'; and yet, unlike films such as the later Transformer sequels, Pacific Rim knows exactly what it is and never tries to be anything more. It understands that, at its core, is a testosterone-oozing pandemic, a 'rock-em, sock'em robots for a 21st Century audience, and sets about delivering this with as much eccentricity as it can physically create. And yet, bar a handful of cringe-worthy moments, Pacific Rim delivers more; on a whole spectrum of levels.
Amongst the masculinity is maturity; beneath the brawn is beauty; and within the heavy animation is an acute understanding of what the audience would expect from a film tagging itself as 'Go big...or go extinct'. Sure, it's a CGI-saturated adventure, and cinematic purists may argue that its films such as this that are killing story-based Hollywood - but Pacific Rim is CGI at its very best; uncompromising in its approach and beautifully rendered in its delivery.
What's more, the performances - from a fine array of talent, no doubt - add a degree of realism unbeknown to films of its genre. The despair of their situation resonates well off the likes of Luther-known Idris Elba (whose role, while not quite as dominant as Luther, is another fine example of the mans natural talent), while the quirkiness and far-fetched nature of the tale manifests itself through characters such as 'mad scientist' Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day, of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia fame) and alien-orifice black marketer Hannibal Chau (the ever-enjoyable Ron Perlman; a regular of Del Toro features ala Hellboy). Better still though is the partnership between our lead protagonists Raleigh Becket(Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).
As a returning pilot Raleigh must ease Mako - whose personal ties to the cause remove her, initially, from pilot-selection - into the Jaeger environment, one that is both heavily male-orientated and unforgiving to amateurs. Of course, as is staple these days a blossoming relationship begins to form between the two - you know, a little love story to soften the thought of possible extinction - but thankfully the focus remains on the fight in hand.
As for the rest of the cast, all add a splice of variety to Rim's offering. Whether this is through the Soviet-esque stylings of the Russian Jaeger pilots - both of whom seem to draw heavily from iconic Russian-figure and Rocky villain Ivan Drago; the jock-like behaviour of Australian pilot Chuck Hansen ( portrayed by Robert Kazinsky, in a remarkable step up from his previous employment on Eastenders) or Clifton Collins Jr's Mod-styled Ops controller Tendo Choi, there is enough personality here to hold your attention throughout.
But, the question remains - when push comes to shove, how does Pacific Rim fare? Well, it's hard to put this into words - if you were to combine Avatar, Transformers and War of the Worlds you'd have a good starting point for this film. However, such is Del Toro's attention to detail that none of the aforementioned would do Pacific Rim justice. Ultimately, P.R is a beast unlike any other - an all out brawl-fest that finds a equilibrating balance of comedy, action, passion and despair. If Shakespeare did Kaiju, you'd be hard-pushed to find better.
Of course, when approaching such a title one must have an open mind. If you come into this expecting the story of 2013, the stand alone film that will redefine the Oscars or similar award ceremonies, then you are bound to hate it. When reviewing its original cinematic release, Guy Kelly summed his review up with " It’s cliché, but in this case it holds true: if you only see one blockbuster movie this summer, make it this one" - and the same remains with its Blu-ray/DVD release.
Imagine Avatar on speed, playing a War of the Worlds videogame...yeah, that's about it. Del Toro draws you in, then gives you just what you want - a visceral pleasure with enough substance and levity as to justify its 132 minute run time. Better still, if your current setup allows...get the Blu-ray addition. Pacific Rim is a visual delight, so the culmination of Blu-ray clarity can only better your viewing experience.
Pacific Rim...it's what your 12 year old self always wanted to see.
Pacific Rim Blu-ray is available now
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