I need to begin this post by saying that I’ve been looking forward to Pacific Rim for what seems like ages, and my expectations were about as high as they possibly could be. That being said, it took my expectations, chewed them up, and spit them back out in the form of not only the most genuinely fun action movie I’ve had the pleasure of watching, but also an allegory for the importance of stepping out of our separate nations and banding together as humans—a message that has never been more relevant.
Guillermo del Toro, who wrote and directed Pacific Rim (as well as another one of my favorite films of all time—Pan’s Labyrinth), said he didn’t want to make Pacific Rim about one nation (i.e. ‘MURICA!) saving the world. Rather, he wanted it to be about people from all nations, races, and creeds working together to save the world. Therein lies the core of its brilliance, but for the sake of this review, there are a few more things I want to mention.
One: Mako Mori, arguably the most well-written badass female character in a film since Alien‘s Ripley. The best thing about Mako, though, is that she’s not all grit and spine of steel. Don’t get me wrong—she can take on the kaiju (giant monsters) with the best of them—but instead of constantly acting like she has something to prove like so many other powerful female characters in movies, she has a vulnerability that’s real and not gender-exclusive. Almost all the male characters display a sense of vulnerability as well. Mako’s femininity shines through, not as a weakness but as a normal part of her character. And in one of the best scenes in the movie, the gender double standard gets turned on its head when she spies on her male colleague, Raleigh, undressing through a peephole.
Two: the character relationships. When it comes to action and cool fight sequences between giant monsters and robots, Pacific Rim delivers on an epic scale, but it’s anything but vapid. This movie has heart, and it comes in the form of the relationships between its characters, which are layered and complex. Everything from father-son to father-daughter to rivals to colleagues to friends is explored. In fact, the only thing it’s lacking is a strong relationship between two female characters. Ultimately, Pacific Rim is about humanity and finding strength in one another, and that message is constantly reinforced through some of the most satisfying character development I’ve seen.
Another thing I really enjoyed is that romance isn’t imperative to the plot. Although Mako and Raleigh are close and it’s implied there may be something a little more there, their relationship is left open to interpretation. Del Toro has specifically stated that he didn’t want their relationship to be an overtly romantic one. He wanted their story to be about colleagues and the closeness that stems from working together, going into battle together, and depending on each other. While their relationship could be interpreted as romance, it can just as easily be interpreted as a close friendship.
Three: Dr. Newt Geiszler. He’s just awesome. Charlie Day should be in everything.
All that’s left to say is: go see this movie. If you’re waiting for it to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, don’t. Pacific Rim is THE blockbuster to see this summer, and it’s worth seeing on the big screen.