Giant monsters! Giant robots! Fighting!
Guillermo del Toro! Co-writing! Directing!
Senior Editor! Peter Suderman! Reviewing!
The basic elevator pitch for “Pacific Rim” is pretty simple: giant monsters versus giant robots! Without spoiling anything, I can tell you the winner right now: eight-year-old boys everywhere.
The fact is that the real pitch is more like this: giant monsters versus giant robots versus your childhood imagination. The resulting epic showdown may not satisfy every fanboy fantasy imaginable — what movie could? — but it puts up a pretty good fight. Director Guillermo del Toro’s vision of a near-future world in which mountain-sized beasts emerge from the sea to trade body blows with skyscraper-sized mechanized warriors serves up its oversized battles with sufficient imagination and zeal to overcome its shortcomings when it comes to flesh and blood humans.
“Pacific Rim” is set in the years after Earth has been invaded by giant monster attackers emerging from a rift in the Pacific Ocean. To fight off these monsters, called Kaiju, humans built Jaegers — giant fighting robots controlled by a pair of pilots locked in mental sync with the machine. Charlie Hunnam plays Raleigh Becket, an ex-Jaeger pilot called back into the program by its commander, the awesomely named Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). In addition to fighting off monsters, Becket’s challenge is to sync up with his new partner, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), as the Jaeger program makes a last-ditch effort to close the dimensional portal.
Mr. del Toro, whose funny and touching “Hellboy” films remain some of the smartest comic-book adaptations, proved himself as a kind of monster auteur with the terrifyingly sad but brilliantly conceived “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Those movies offered immersive worlds, fascinatingly detailed fantasy design work, and affecting human stories to match.