Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

July 18, 2013

'Pacific Rim' misfires on all cylinders

By Ryan Maddux Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — Ryan here, headlining alone, with a look at Guillermo del Toro’s "Pacific Rim" (PG-13).

Set in a not-too-distant future where giant alien monsters (Kaiju) have surfaced out of an interdimensional portal way in the Pacific Ocean, "Pacific Rim" showcases how humans have built their own monsters (giant robots — Jaegers) to battle the menacing threat. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day costar in the film.

I really wanted to like "Pacific Rim." As a kid, I loved monster/Godzilla movies, and seeing giant robots battle giant monsters in an urban environment would definitely appeal to my inner child. Although I admire del Toro’s ambition to craft a movie that appeals to that child-like wonder, the fact remains that even though this movie is geared towards the eight-year-old in all of us, it also appears that the film was also written by eight-year-olds as well. To me "Pacific Rim" just about misfires on all cylinders. It was a film with grand ambitions but falls flat. A movie of this kind was always going to require a strong suspension-of-disbelief but "Pacific Rim," even within its own world, is just completely silly when it tries to explain itself. It’s just too absurd to buy into.

This wasn’t the case, but it seemed like "Pacific Rim" was a make-or-break moment for Hollywood.

In an ever-increasing Hollywood of remakes, sequels and films based on existing properties, "Pacific Rim" was supposed to be the welcome breath of fresh of air. And while the actual story is original the rest of the film is not. Besides being littered with action movie clichés and movie tropes the film borrows from so many other movies ("Top Gun," "Inception" and "The Avengers") that it feels like you’ve already watched this feature. (And that’s not even mentioning the influence from countless other Japanese monster movies and Anime).

Del Toro has cinematic credibility and it seemed like "Pacific Rim" might be a “smart-Transformers” movie, but in all actuality it might even be more frivolous.

Visually speaking, I do give "Pacific Rim" some credit. The details that went into the look of the Jaegers and their movement are noteworthy as are most of the action scenes. But even there the murkiness of it constantly raining does take away from the biggest selling point of the movie — that of its visual flair.

The monsters look like giant CGI monsters, so there’s not much to take away from that either. Ultimately there isn’t much personality resonating from this film from any source. Usually in a movie of this ilk, a performance or two would help move things along. But that isn’t the case.

Idris Elba certainly has the charisma to help carry a movie, but he’s handcuffed right from the start by the shoddy material. Charlie Day is there to provide comedic relief, but he really just comes across as a hipster-Rick Moranis (which may work for some people). Relative newcomer Charlie Hunnam might have the look to headline a big tent-pole summer movie, but he doesn’t have the screen presence to match the epic nature of the film.

One of the best scenes in the film is a flashback involving Rinki Kikuchi’s character. It’s a very emotional and earnest scene. Under the right circumstances it might have propelled the movie in a stronger direction. But unfortunately there’s no building on that scene and Kikuchi’s character just becomes the typical damsel in distress. There looked like there was the intent to make her a strong feminine character (and let’s face it — that notion is lacking in these summer films) but regrettably she becomes the stock female character who is just along for the ride and always needs saving.

"Pacific Rim" fails to deliver in almost every way.

Final grade D+.