Well, luckily for us, and Warner Bros., the mind and memory of writer / director Guillermo del Torro has conjured up alot more than an ill-fated attempt at a grab-n-go from Threshers. Mixing his childhood viewing habits of Mexican and Japanese TV, he has created what can only be described as a 10 year old's wet dream before they know what wet dreams are supposed to be about.
Giant robots trying to whack the seven levels of hell out of giant monsters. Yes, it's a fully loaded, Summer blockbuster, CGI version of Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots - even more so than the Hugh Jackman starring Real Steel attempt back in 2011. And, as John Hammond would say,this time round there's "no expense spared!"
Firstly, let's deal with what for some will be the elephant in the room - the man who wrote and directed the crafty and cult likes of The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Cronos and the two Hellboy movies has gone full "Hollywood" and done a complete Summer blockbuster. Yes, he co-wrote it and directed it. There's no getting away from it and no doubt there may be cries of "sell out" from true fans upon seeing his latest effort. This is not what you'd expect from del Torro to deliver after him moving on to other projects from the back then much-troubled and often delayed The Hobbit.
For those accustomed to his style and unusual imagery and charm, Pacific Rim will not feel like a del Torro film at all. There is nothing within its 132 minute running time to distinguish it from say, the latest Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay movie - apart from the ever-constant presence of Ron Perlman of course. At times, it feels like an alternate universe version of Transformers with never-ending, OTT punch ups that destroy everything around the battlers within a 10 block radius. The camera swirls around the fighters as they face off against each other; dramatic slides and back flips are orchestrated; shouting is done alot (more on that later) - yep, we are definitely in Bay territory here and not in del Torro's. However, maybe that's not a bad thing? Spielberg showed the world a change of style with his Jurassic Park and Schindler's List releases in the same year, so can't del Torro have a go at not being del Torro?
The reply is: No. And yes.
Those who have never seen any of his previous output will have a ball at the "quote it before you know it" dialogue and the "see it coming sandwich with a side order of cliche" served up. Now, don't get me wrong, that does not mean that Pacific Rim is an awful film. Not by a long shot. It's a fun, full-on cheese-fest from beginning to end - one that takes nothing serious at all, not even its own science in the end! So, regarding Pacific Rim, ask yourself this question: do I like Independence Day? If the answer is "yes" and you don't mind rewatching it - telepathic links let both sides of the war know what's going on; a big, explosive payload has to be delivered whilst in disguise in order to save the day; male ego's clash at inappropriate times - then you will sit and grin throughout this. True, you don't get The White House being blown to bits, frozen up or drowned out and washed away. What you do get however though is a new and just-as-much-fun image of a super tanker being hefted like a baseball bat in readiness to beat the living crap out of a monster just like a caveman would do to a dinosaur in a Ray Harryhausen B-movie.
And that is exactly what Pacific Rim is - a very big budgeted B-movie with thrills, spills and wooden dialogue to match from a bunch of cloned beefcakes (he's the dead brother? No, he's the mouthy rival. But they look exactly the same!) and of course, Idris Elba. He is about the only character to stand out - not just because of his colour in a sea of a caucasian cast, but for his extra loud shoutiness, his coolness and his "This is OUR Independence Day!" speech - here it's "we are cancelling the Apocalypse!" Unlike Bill Pullman's Independence Day President, he doesn't need a megaphone to address the troops with a rallying cry to arms - Elba can just shout it to them. With that form of presence, you can feel his absence from the storyline when it switches to either the troubled robot pilots/fighters or the two geek techs trying to find another solution to the threat that Earth and its populace is facing. Only Perlman fills in the Elba gap but then his appearances are few and far between too.
So, fun with a capital "f" and better at delivering on the promise of its trailer than Godzilla was, it's a great film for those who haven't seen a del Torro film, or for those with a 10 year old child still dominent inside of them or for those who have enough alcohol in them that the rediscover their childhood and ignore the illogic of throwing a monster around in the ocean where the water will only cushion its fall and not hurt it...
UK release date: 12.07.13