‘Pacific Rim’ review: Boom goes the alien

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‘Pacific Rim’ a visually stunning bunch of fun

Destructive, monstrous, gigantic demon spawn-like aliens bent on causing mass death and chaos seemingly for no reason? Check.

Equally enormous, reality-bending, giant-alien-destroying-capable robot-weapons piloted by neurally linked pilots? Check.

A mysterious, unexplained inter-dimensional portal positioned deep in the Pacific Ocean capable of transporting said aliens, which end up brawling with said human-controlled robots? Check.

All of the above-mentioned beautifully rendered, quickly paced and acted by a staff that knows not to take too seriously a movie about robots fighting aliens? Check, check and check.

“Pacific Rim,” directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), is just what the summer movie-going audience ordered: a bunch of good-looking fun capable of distracting without being distracting. What more can you ask for when its weekend competition is “Grown Ups 2,” now ranked the worst movie of the summer, well on its way to the worst movie of the year?

Written by first-timer Travis Beacham, “Pacific Rim” is a substance-lacking sci-fi adventure telling the glorious tales of human resistance against some terrifying large and universally disgusting aliens known as Kaiju (Japanese for “strange creature,” though more known as “giant monster). This fight, taking place in the near future, utilizes the fighting robots called Jaegers (German for “hunter”) in effort to stem the galactic threat. The Jaegers are piloted by two humans linked through a mind meld. (The issue here is that a single pilot would be mentally overwhelmed by the sheer size of the robot, which towers over skyscrapers.

Our main protagonist, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam, “The Ledge”), is a talented Jaeger pilot, able to easily “drift” (mind link) with his brother, Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff). Calamity befalls the brothers, leaving Raleigh wondering aimlessly for more than five years as the world continues to fight the aliens.

As the populace finds the Jaegers to be less and less effective against increasingly powerful Kaiju, the governments in charge decide to discontinue the program and create an enormous barrier, much to the chagrin of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the commander in charge of the Jaegers and their Rangers.

This is where the action finally takes off. And it’s intense: vicious aliens, nuclear-powered robots, interpersonal conflicts, the works. Lots of action, lots of manic running around trying to save the world while nearly failing at every turn. Typical fare for this type of film.

Del Toro does manage to make what little dialogue structure there is fairly fleet and on target. And he hints at his more capable abilities when he blends his characters’ archetypes during sequences, especially in regards to Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), Raleigh’s co-pilot, who is still traumatized by an encounter with the monsters when she was a little girl. (A scene involving her “chasing the rabbit” makes you feel you’re watching a different movie.) Elba’s stoic commander’s resolute belief is inspiring. And Not to mention Charlie Day’s neurotic scientist and Ron Perlman as an underground monster parts seller, who are treats among all the grim portrayals.

Yeah, there could have been some more plot in general. Maybe even some character development. But del Toro clearly wasn’t interested in creating a story for the ages. What we get is a monster mashup of epic proportions. Did you see the previews? There are monsters and robots and explosions everywhere! In the end, “Pacific Rim” is a monstrously good time.

Three robot-fighting-alien stars out of five.

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