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July 22, 2013 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro has a certain flair for pulpy yet nuanced entertainment that I’ve always admired. Pacific Rim is supposedly his attempt to escape the cynicism of typical blockbusters, instead emphasising unadulterated entertainment. Alas, while there are flashes of brilliance, Pacific Rim is a brainless film that bores more often than it excites.

In the near future, humanity has constructed giant robots known as Jaegars to fight alien monsters (Kaiju) that have risen up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to wreak havoc upon human civilisation. As they stand on the brink of annihilation, the last Jaeger pilots gather for one last operation designed to end the Kaiju threat.

Unsurprisingly, the story that follows is astonishingly stupid. Two-dimensional characters and cliché-ridden dialogue abound. However, the real problem is not that the script is idiotic; indeed, that was probably the point. Rather, it is that del Toro treats such material so earnestly. Much of the second act is devoted to a bizarre mix of pseudo-drama and tedious character exposition. Del Toro’s attempt to anchor the action with such weak human elements just makes it more apparent how artificial it all is.

Compounding the script’s woes is some abysmal acting. Many characters sport cartoonish accents that make it difficult to take anything they say seriously. This wouldn’t be a problem if they were dealing with tongue-in-cheek material but such ridiculous voices do not lend themselves to ‘emotional’ moments. Couple that with an inability to display any more than one facial expression and the audience is left with ciphers whose ordeals are difficult to become invested in.

Occasionally, however, Pacific Rim does manage to thrill. Del Toro proves himself to be an adept choreographer of action and crafter of worlds.
Each Kaiju is fearsome, whilst the Jaegers are appropriately scarred yet imposing. When the two go toe to toe, the results are staggering. Widespread destruction is simple to create, yet Pacific Rim manages to avoid it descending into mindlessness. Del Toro has an excellent understanding of scale and visual space, and uses it to craft action scenes that are both expansive and coherent. At times, Pacific Rim is an enthralling spectacle.

Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between. Aside from a few set-pieces, Pacific Rim is largely a laborious and witless piece of fluff. How could the man who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth produce such garbage?



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