Movie review – Godzilla meets Transformers

2013-08-04 14:00

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Film: Pacific Rim (Nu Metro)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Featuring: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman and Ron Perlman

Rating: 8/10

Godzilla and the Transformers meet while spectacularly reducing the world’s most famous seaside cities to rubble and dust.

Only under the guidance of director Guillermo Del Toro does what could have been a crass sci-fi mashup become a nuanced piece of film making about the last stand of humankind.

There are two pieces of terminology you need to know: Kaiju (Japanese for monster) and Jaeger (German for hunter).

Kaijus are giant alien monsters that rise from the ocean through a rift between universes.

Jaegers are the giant machines humankind builds to try to stop them.

Del Toro, the Mexican director whose The Devil’s Backbone is one of the most haunting films of all time, has an impressive track record when it comes to smart fantasy and sci-fi films.

He made the screen adaptations of both Hellboy movies as well as the sequel to Blade, the best of the trilogy.

His most brilliant piece of fantasy work is the Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth.

Pacific Rim is as breathtaking, but in a different way.

It is a completely engrossing apocalypse movie with well-developed character arcs and realistic engagement with how the world might adapt to a threat of such impossibly unbeatable proportions.

Above all, it has special effects that take the suspension of disbelief to a whole new level.

Charlie Hunnam, the British actor who starred in the brilliant TV series Queer As Folk – and, more recently, Children of Men, Green Street Hooligans and Sons of Anarchy – is Rayleigh.

Him and his brother are Jaeger copilots, which requires them to be tapped into one another’s minds, as a Jaeger can only be controlled by two people working as one.

After experiencing his brother’s death during a fight with a Kaiju, Rayleigh hides out in Alaska, helping to build a giant wall to keep the monsters out.

The wall is humanity’s new idea, having decommissioned the Jaegers after the Kaiju adapted to fighting them.

Rayleigh is called back to active service by his reluctant commander (Idris Elba) as they prepare a first-generation Jaeger, which only he knows how to control, for one last battle against the Kaiju.

Rayleigh’s new copilot is a rookie, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), who has her own demons to fight.

The comedy is delivered by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, scientists who just might make the difference between success and failure; and Ron Perlman (aka Hellboy), who runs the black market in Kaiju leftovers.

Travis Beacham, who wrote the new version of Clash of the Titans, is the mind behind this story.

This is so good, I could forgive him for the rather humdrum Titans.

With Del Toro’s help, he’s written a sci-fi end-of-the-world flick that will go on the keepers shelf.

It is a large-scale, whiz-bang blockbuster, but Del Toro injects it with the humanity that is crucial for it to transcend the genre and ensure that when Kaiju clashes with Jaeger, the audience roots for our species and never loses sight of the humanity in the monstrous.

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