No matter how you look at it, Guillermo del Toro is a very interesting director, especially in the way that he really earned his respect among fans from fairly humble beginnings.
Despite being born in Mexico and becoming very successful with his indie Spanish language films, he seems to have perfectly adapted his style to Hollywood sensibilities.
My first exposure to him was through the amazing Pan’s Labyrinth and the thing that immediately stayed with me was the visually original style that he had, particularly with creature design.
Having a background in special effects, that comes as no surprise, but along with that was a very earnest way of telling stories and a twist of fairytale darkness. This proved to be a great recipe for his first Hollywood flick, Blade II and then later the Hellboy series, both becoming cult favourites.
Now comes a film that has been inevitable since the advancements of visual effects and 3D started consuming the industry.
Pacific Rim aims to be the ultimate monster mash flick, in which the monstrous inter-dimensional Kaiju (translation: ‘strange monsters’) are pitted against humanity’s last hope, the giant robotic soldiers of the Jaeger Program (translation: ‘hunter’).
We are introduced to one of the hotshot Jaeger pilot teams – codenamed “Gipsy Danger” – as they undergo a routine mission to take down a villainous Kaiju.
Charlie Hunnam plays the heroic Raleigh Becket and after some initial misfortune and a five year break, enters back into the Jaeger program just as it’s being decommissioned for favour of building a large wall to keep the Kaiju out. There are only four Jaegers left and it’s up to them to single handedly fight the proverbial monsters at the gate.
What separates the concept of Pacific Rim from standard robot and monster fare is the neural bridge that the pilot team must undertake to operate one of these giant Jaeger robots.
The idea is that it is too much strain for the human brain to control a Jaeger alone, so the mental load must be distributed among two brains, connected and sharing an intensely strong bond.
Raleigh finds his partner in the beautiful Mako played coyly by Rinko Kikuchi, and once the alarm bell rings, they are sent back into the fray to fight the increasing number of Jaegers coming through the portal under the ocean where the monsters are coming form.
Because Raleigh is the veteran and Mako is the rookie, they form a bond stronger than ever seen before in the program.
Beyond these two, Idris Elba is great as general Stacker Pentecost and provides some grounding for the most outlandish characters. There’s also a great cameo from Ron Pearlman and once you see the film, you will believe a man can wear gold plated shoes and still look badass.