You'd think something as simple as big robots and big monsters would be super easy to get right in a movie, but with the likes of the Transformers trilogy and 1998's Godzilla in its back catalogue, that kind of flick badly needed a makeover.
Good thing Guillermo Del Toro knows roughly what he's doing!
Yes, Pacific Rim is the Hellboy director's take on monster movies and big robot movies: the result? A decidedly fun, brainless mesh of anime-style melodrama, epic nonsense, cartoonish lols and Robot Jox-type live-action 80's goofiness. It's very retro, very silly but very cool. It's one of those movies you can't take too seriously and demands that you sit down, suspend your disbelief quite a bit and enjoy yourself. Nitpicking Pacific Rim would really be missing the point. Now the reason that some pan the Transformers movies, me included, is that their flaws really are completely distracting and do affect the style the films themselves are going for. Pacific Rim does have weird bursts of comic relief, stock characters and plot holes, just like the Transformers movies, but here, you get what the film is going for and all that never gets annoying or too distracting. Our two main characters may be somewhat bland but they're never dislikable, and they do fit the fun B-movie feel Del Toro was going for. The two geeky scientists there solely to offer comic relief may be a bit too OTT at first but once Ron Perlman shows up wearing gold shoes and once their arc starts making sense, you'll quickly forgive their existence.
Pacific Rim is definitely not perfect but, for a big robot vs big monsters movie, it's very nearly there. The second act spends a little too much time with characters we won't necessarily remember once the credits roll but every time those big robots show up, you'll be in heaven. Visually, Pacific Rim is an impressive achievement: not only can you tell what's happening when chaotic action sequences are happening but the neon-lit look of the whole thing is a treat, especially in 3D. Highlights include an epic battle in the streets of Hong Kong where a robots slams a Titanic-like boat across the face of an inter-dimensional dinosaur clone monster, robots with swords, robots with three arms, a gross monster birth, Idris Elba's Independence Day-style end speech, the list goes on. Pacific Rim aims to be a cheesy but fun cartoonish, retro anime-style watch and, as a whole, it succeeds admirably. The film never takes itself too seriously and certainly delivers in the eye-candy department.
Overall, I do recommend checking out Pacific Rim, especially if the Transformers movies left you feeling somewhat empty. Del Toro's big robot movie may just be a bright and colourful piece of nonsensical fluff but it's very well done, has some heart to it and ultimately, it's the most fun I've had at the movies so far this year.