Pacific Rim

“Badass” is an under-scrutinized axis of serious film critique


Release date: July 12, 2013
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Language: English

Who should watch this movie: People who love giant robots and hate Michael Bay.

When should you watch this movie: When you’re avoiding texts from your friends for no good reason. While also watching the olympics.

The sell: Allow me to begin by disclosing a conflict of interest: I love Guillermo Del Toro and stand more or less uncritically behind everything that he makes. If you had pitched Pacific Rim to me in the year it came out, I imagine you would have said something along the lines of “it’s a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters.” To be honest, I would likely have been sold on that alone, but by no means would I have entered the theater with any expectations regarding plot, character, or execution. Today, here is how I would pitch Pacific Rim to better capture all the ways in which this movie is “about giant robots fighting giant monsters” and so much more. Del Toro is a monster guy. He loves them. I get it, I love them too. Something about imaginative creations brought to life on a massive scale is both exciting and highly satisfying. Del Toro’s mastery is in balancing the scale of his imagined monstrosities with fabulously intricate character arcs. In a movie about giant monsters and giant robots, the human story is never lost. Pacific Rim boasts a strong ensemble cast with a host of dynamic characters. Each character interacts with the robots v. monsters concept differently, and plays a unique role in moving the plot forward. Though the plot beats are far from unpredictable, simplicity of narrative allows the impeccable execution to shine. Del Toro maps color schemes onto an ever shifting emotional landscape, even during the most insane monster fights. His obsessive attention to detail pays off in an action movie that never sacrifices aesthetic or emotional gravity. If I had to pick a weakness, I’d point to Charlie Hunnam’s line delivery, but I would argue that it is more than made up for by Rinko Kikuchi’s performance and Idris Elba shouting “we’re cancelling the apocalypse!”

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