From the first moments of Pacific Rim, director Guillermo Del Toro's intent is clear: Go big or go extinct.
The film's brief opening unleashes on summer moviegoers a future in which legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, have risen from the depths of the ocean with the sole purpose of wiping the human race off planet Earth. To combat the beasties, massive robots, called Jaegers, were created. Too powerful for a single individual, the Jaegers required two pilots to control each mecha-warrior simultaneously, their minds synced via a neural bridge. The pairing is called "drifting." Soon, we took Earth back. (All before the title screen!) But as with all of humanity's triumphs, we got cocky with our new toys, while the Kaiju adapted and got a whole lot smarter.
A stellar voice-over by Ron Perlman sets the tone. Earth's last stand against the coming apocalypse stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel). The dialogue is beyond corny, but does that matter? No one is seeing this for an award-winning screenplay. Beings upwards of 25 stories high that could snack on the puny Autobots? That's the reason. And here's five reasons why it totally works.
1. Too Big Even for IMAX. Pacific Rim is the biggest movie of the year. How big? The immense Kaijus rarely fit on a "tiny" IMAX screen. Their heads, or even just their grinning sets of teeth, often take up the entire frame. We don't mean a close-up, either. We mean with whole cars and other man-made thingsin that shot, too—you know, for scale. Ditto the slow-moving, heavy-hitting mechanized Jaegers. A Smash Bros.-style brawl off the coast of Hong Kong is the highlight.
2. Idris Elba+Charlie Hunnam=Great Team! As Raleigh Becket, the Sons of Anarchy star looks hunky in his robot-controlling suit. As Stacker Pentecost, Idris brings total authority to the proceedings as a commander who once piloted his own Jaeger. If only the duo drifted the same one!
Raleigh's actual partner is pretty awesome though…
3. Rinko Kikuchi+Charlie Hunnam=Even Better Team! One of the best non-mechanized scenes pits Mako (Kikuchi) against Raleigh. Both must prove their mettle with martial arts—but more importantly, they must do so in perfect sync. Robots, monsters and actual hand-to-hand fighting, too. What more do you want?
4. Charlie Day In Wacky Mode, Ron Perlman Still a Hellraiser. The biggest knock against any monster spectacle: Being stuck watching actors endlessly ramble on about whatever in between battles. Luckily, Perlman shows off his sci-fi acting chops as a bootlegger of Kaiju remains. Day is (mostly) funny as monster-lovin' scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler.
5. Guillermo del Toro: Master of Miniature-Humans-in-Peril Moments. As he demonstrated in Pan's Labyrinth, the creature-feature filmmaker can be downright diabolical when it comes to putting little tykes too close to giant ooze-filled creatures. Here, terrified Mana Ashida plays young Mako, pre-kick-butt days. She even wears a coat similar to the one Ivana Baquero wore in Pan's.
Do you already have your Kaiju cosplay outfits ready for Comic-Con? Sound off in the comments!