There’s one moment in Pacific Rim – the new film from Guillermo Del Toro (director of Hellboy) – where the pilots of one of the giant robots, or ‘Jaegers’, have a choice between taking the sensible option and running from danger, or doing something ‘crazy’ and hoping for the best. It’s telling that (spoilers) the crazy option works remarkably well, because that’s exactly what Del Toro did with this movie; he took a pretty massive risk, yet we’re left with something magical.
The thing is Hollywood doesn’t make movies like Pacific Rim; a mash-up of two obscure Japanese sub-genres, the ‘Mecha’ films (giant robots) and the ‘Kaiju’ films (giant alien monsters). The fact that somebody had the balls to spend $180 million dollars on a genre film like that is insane, really, but thank God they did.
Like ‘The Avengers’ last year, Pacific Rim has an irresistible grin-inducing charm and it’s the main reason why it’s the best blockbuster of the year so far. The penultimate fight is the highlight of the film and it had me squealing with delight as 250-foot robots traded blows with enormous monsters.
There are a number of tonal discrepancies inherent to a project such as this, yet the film does an admirable job of balancing them all out. Admittedly, the main draw is the totally ludicrous action, however there is also a certain amount of time that needs to be dedicated to the science-fiction-heavy mythology. Then, there is also the humanity that Del Toro instils into these characters; you want the Jaegers to pummel the Kaiju into the dust because of the relationship built up with the pilots. Though the greater goal is to save the world, it’s the pilot’s safety that matters, and this is just one example of the intimacy that shines through the incredible scale of the film.
Del Toro is well-known for his attention to detail, and to see him continue that tradition with so many resources at his disposable is a wonder to behold. The entire film is exquisitely designed and crafted, and – while it may be unnoticeable, at times – it makes the movie feel complete and gives the sense that it could live on without an audience watching.
For a film that relies so heavily on computers to exist, Pacific Rim is remarkably human and it’s this that makes it as emotionally thrilling as it is technically and visually mind-blowing.