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Pacific Rim - Review

Pacific Rim

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

GUILLERMO Del Toro’s Pacific Rim may do exactly what it says on the label but it’s massively disappointing that it doesn’t offer anything more.

An overlong robots against monsters smackdown set mostly at night, the film is high on technical bravado and chest-beating rhetoric but low on emotional content and soul.

Set sometime in the future when mankind is facing extinction from the threat posed by Kaiju, legions of monstrous alien creatures who have risen from the seas, the story follows humanity’s last stand as the last remaining Jaegers (giant robots) and their human pilots as they attempt to defeat the Kaiju and close the underwater portal from which they are rising.

Chief among these pilots is a washed up former hero (Charlie Hunnam) still struggling to overcome the loss of his brother and a rookie newcomer (Rinko Kikuchi), while on the ground two eccentric boffins (Charlie Day and former EastEnders star Rob Kazinsky) attempt to find an alternative way to help.

After a brief set-up that all too briefly introduces us to the Keiju’s arrival, Del Toro’s film plunges viewers straight into the midst of the 11th hour showdown and, as a result, spends most of its time feeling like the last act of any number of past summer blockbusters.

Hence, robots clobber monsters and send each other flying into buildings. Or, in moments of alternative creative destruction, spit blue venom or throw beached oil tankers at one another.

Some of this carnage is impressive but the first disappointment is that so much is set at night (which draws unwanted comparisons to another blockbuster misfire, Godzilla). Hence, while you may well be handed 3D glasses upon entry, night vision goggles may have been better employed.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment surrounding Pacific Rim, though, is Del Toro’s failure to do more with the story or its characters. There are germs of good ideas but they are too quickly consumed by the film’s desire to smash something new.

Hence, Hunnam’s hero is bland and stereotypical, Idris Elba’s commander is gung-ho and too easily forgettable and Day’s nerdy, motor-mouthed science guy just plain irritating. Even Del Toro regular Ron Perlman (aka Hellboy) fails to inject much charisma, let alone humanity.

By the time the smackdowns are done and dusted, it’s difficult to care who is left standing, a failing that’s all the more unforgivable given the emotional complexity of Del Toro’s previous work (which includes the seminal Pan’s Labyrinth).

Having finally been granted the keys to Hollywood’s toy box, the director has opted to play safe and the result is a film that conforms to too many tried and tested blockbuster formulas.

Pacific Rim, far from being a visionary spectacle capable of raising the bar for this kind of thing, suffers from the type of carnage fetishism and overkill that has fast become the creativity crippling norm.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 131mins
UK Release Date: July 12, 2013