Have you ever wondered what it was like for the folks that saw Gojira (Godzilla) when it was first released? Have you ever wanted to see anime or Manga come to life in greater than life-size images, such as a live action version of Evangelion? Have you ever wanted to see what Transformers could have been if anyone had even tried to write a story and script for it? Pacific Rim is as close as you’re going to get as an answer to any of these desires to date.
This is a fun movie. It is also a rarity that likely works better in IMAX and/or 3D, if you can stomach the fights in that format (whip-pans kill me in IMAX). In the summer 2013 pantheon, this is above all the rest, other than Iron Man 3, in terms of satisfaction for your time. But, I have to admit, it just didn’t quite have me leaving the theater with a huge grin or feeling charged the way Iron Man had. The difference between the two was the script.
While this is unmistakably a del Toro film, with his signature style of monsters and visuals, it isn’t quite as emotionally effective as his other work (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Mimic). The elements are there (including Ron Perlman), but the time to develop them is not… that was given over to the action sequences. At 130 min, they likely started to edit it down for higher theater turnover and to aim more for the general audience span of patience. Or, perhaps, it just wasn’t there to begin with… we are talking about Beacham, the guy who wrote the scintillating Clash of the Titans after all.
The cast really tries to compensate for all their worth. Hunnam (Queer as Folk) and Kikuchi (Norwegian Wood, Brother’s Bloom) manage to connect, though not deeply enough to earn their ending. Elba (Luther, Prometheus) is magnetic and powerful as always. Day (Always Sunny…) and Gorman (Penelope, Torchwood) create living anime of young scientists, down to their voices… just listen to the first moment in the elevators when they all meet. But for all their effort, nuance, back stories, and gravitas you don’t feel much for these characters and their relationships… like Jurassic Park, you end up feeling more for the monsters. This gap didn’t make me dislike the film or enjoy it less, it only made me pine for what it might have been.
Suffice to say that this is a BIG SCREEN film, no question. Go for the ride and you’ll not be disappointed. I’m hoping there will be a director’s cut (del Toro almost always does) that adds a bit more human depth to what is an entertainingly conceived story and visually packed film.