It has been more than a year (more than two, really, but who’s counting?) since Pacific Rim was released in theaters and I have waited patiently to see it at home. That might seem like a long time to wait to see a single movie but it was easy enough because I wasn’t particularly keen on seeing it in the first place. As fond as I am of Guillermo Del Toro’s films, the subject and genre of this film have never appealed to me personally. Despite my reservations, I found myself enjoying it immensely. Granted, it is not a personal favorite of mine but this is entirely due to personal taste and not to the quality of the film.
Some of Del Toro’s fans tend to dismiss his more popular and action-oriented films as being shallow, superficial, and generally lacking any emotionally depth. However, I find this to be utterly untrue. What differentiates films like Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak, or the Hellboy films from The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth is not the quality of the content but rather the approach to conveying meaning.
Pacific Rim conveys a strong message about cooperation and human survival. At varies moments in the story, personal antagonisms arise but are ultimately put aside, and sublimated, for a common cause. It might seem a little trite in our post-90’s culture to talk of things such as morals but I would have serious doubts regarding anyone who is insensible to this relevance of this message.
One aspect of the film that deserves praise is the diverse cast and unique character development. Hollywood films are frequently whitewashed and female characters tend to fall in love with the white male hero. Fortunately, none of this happens in Pacific Rim. Stacker Pentecost and Mako Mori, played by Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi respectively, are both wonderfully written characters and play an instrumental role in the plot. Neither are reduced to cultural stereotypes and are given complex, compelling depth to their characters.
The acting, in regards to all his primary characters, deserves special praise. A lot can be said with nonverbal communication (“body language” for those not studying psychology) and was pleasantly surprised to see how effectively the actors use this to convey to the view their character’s underlying feelings, thoughts, and states of mind. It is a unique quality to find in an actor’s performance and one quite often overlooked in film, as well as in life.
Some viewers may find it an inferior product compared to its much lauded predecessors but to me Pacific Rim demonstrates Del Toro’s ability to make a popular action film meaningful and compelling as a drama, far surpassing many contemporary or past attempts in the genre.
P.S. : As a fan of the Portal games, I was more than pleased to hear Ellen McLain as the voice of the Jaeger A.I..