Let’s begin by taking a step back and look at a roller coaster. When you stop and think about it, a roller coaster really has no right to be fun. You’re essentially strapped into a tiny runaway train and thrown around with nothing controlling you other than a few laws of physics. However, if you take this runaway train and set it up in the right place, with the right dips and curves, it becomes an fun, exciting ride that you don’t want to end. It doesn’t teach you anything, it doesn’t make you think about the world around you, it simply puts a smile on your face. Sometimes we forget that a movie can have that same effect. Thankfully, Pacific Rim reminds us that every now and then, we just want to take a fun ride.
There have been countless films through the years with the message that, in one way or another, “everything happens for a reason.” I suppose you could say the same thing about this movie, except that in the world of Pacific Rim everything happens for one reason, and one reason only — so that giant robots can fight giant monsters. This premise is explained within the first five minutes of the film, because we don’t need to have an in-depth understanding of why there is now a world full of giant robots and monsters, we should simply be thankful that they’re here and we get to watch.
Now from this explanation, I want to be clear: I don’t mean that this is a dumbed-down movie, and it is certainly miles from being cerebral. To describe Pacific Rim as “smart” or “stupid” would be to miss the point of the film. Just as no one would attempt to assess the intelligence of a roller coaster, there is no need to look for the same in this ride of a film. It is perfectly engineered to do exactly what it should — leave you with a big grin and ready to take another spin.
While the biggest thrills in Pacific Rim come from larger-than-life robot versus monster battles, the greatest joys come from the larger-than-life characters. With simple motivations and well-laid out roles, each character fits in perfectly as a part of the fun machine, and the actors couldn’t be having more fun doing it. Particularly noteworthy are Charlie Day, an eccentric scientist passionate about understanding the monsters (or ‘Kaiju’ as they’re dubbed), and a delightfully hammy Ron Pearlman as a black market kingpin of Kaiju body parts. Sure everyone is over the top, but when you’re competing for screen time with a bunch of 500 foot tall behemoths, over the top fits in just fine.
Over the course of its 132 minute run time, Pacific Rim asks a lot of questions, and they all have the same answer — giant robots and monsters. There was untold destruction, danger, and mayhem, and through it all, I just couldn’t stop smiling. It’s hard to call a film with a nearly $200 million budget a B-movie, but like a good drive-in picture, they remembered that above all, we just want to have a little fun, or in the case of Pacific Rim, a whole lot of fun.
My Rating: 3 Stars