Give Kenneth Branagh a bag of money, some free time, and a handful of seasoned British actors, and he makes Shakespear. Give Joss Whedon the same, and he’ll make The Avengers. Take away the money, and Whedon will also make Shakespear. Hand the same to Joseph Gordon Levitt, and he’ll write, direct, and star in a movie about a porn obsessed Lothario who beds a different woman every weekend. (Not a bad gig, if you can get it.) Then there’s Andrew Garfield (Spider-man, and Emma Stone’s real life beau), who hasn’t yet reached those heights of acclaim, but nonetheless offered a few days ago that he thinks Mary Jane, who will appear in the third film in the Spider-man reboot, should be a guy. Specifically, played by Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Fruitvale Station). According to Entertainment Weekly, Director Marc Webb has “taken the suggestion under advisement.” No word yet from Jordan’s camp on whether he’s interested in the role.
While speculation on the marketability of an interracial bisexual love story up ending an established franchise plot line might be interesting to contemplate, we must move on to Guillermo del Toro.
What is del Toro known for? Chronos. (Nuff said.)
Still, we’ll add these for good measure: Hellboy 1 & 2, Mimic, Blade II, Pan’s Labyrinth, screenwriting The Hobbit 1 & 2, and the recent breakout horror-hit Mama. So, give del Toro a bag of money, some free time, and a handful of seasoned British actors, and what will he craft? Will he make Shakespear? No. Maybe a movie where women throw themselves at his feet? Nope. Del Toro’s passion project? Dinosaurs… and robots. <Lolz.>
Maybe this is his passion project. Or, maybe he’s had a stroke and regressed to the age of 12.
The answer is quickly deduced: A masterful blend of Godzilla, Voltron, and Shakespearian tragedy, Pacific Rim is awesome summer entertainment, which may even awaken the 12 year old boy in you. It might not appeal to all audience quadrants, but if you’re going in to see a movie about giant robots fighting giant dinosaurs (Jaegers and Kaiju), this is it. If you know del Toro’s work, you know his passion for heart and character are just as strong as his demand for exceptional (and interesting) visuals. Jaegers must be controlled by two humans, who enter a ‘neural drift,’ a mental connection with each other and the robot. One human could, but the process is extremely dangerous. It’s a clever idea, and creates opportunities for drama and uncertainty. Though character backstory is explored only in service of advancing the plot, there is an extended sequence mid-film related to the early childhood of one of the characters. What’s notable are that the scene is one of the most dramatic and visually compelling in the film, and second, it features a remarkable performance delivered by a 6 year old. This is del Toro’s gift – he can elevate any material.
The effects, visuals, set design, and cgi in this film are all top notch. Understand, this film is essentially Japanese Manga, realized as a flesh and blood film. The sets and scale are massive, with incalculable detail. Acting is solid, though these characters are archetypes, so no one is asked to plumb unknown depths, and it’s nice to see Idris Elba (the BBC’s fantastic Luther) in a major role. Ron Perlman brings it, as he often does, here providing some good comic relief. Burn Gorman (Torchwood) also provides levity in an uncharacteristically comedic role.
It should be noted, the film is visually dark. Lush and detailed, yes, but dark. The best format to view it is Imax 3D. It’s some of the best use of 3D you’ve yet to see. Second to this, would be 2D. You’ll lose the imposing sense of scale (an important part of this film), but it will be bright and easy to see. Standard 3D screens are highly inadvisable, because it will be too dark to see the fight scenes and underwater sequences. Period. Imax works because they use 2 digital projectors (ie: twice as bright as standard 3D). Two other minor quibbles: there are a handful of minor plot holes. Normally, these would irritate me, but somehow the film is so well meaning, it’s hard to get stuck on minor points. Also, the dialogue is often overly simplistic – like someone who doesn’t actually read comics, mocking comic book dialogue. After watching an interview with del Toro, I’ve decided that dialogue sounds great, when he says it. It must be the accent, and so no one noticed when he pitched it. Again, the film moves a brisk pace, has a dynamic story, and charismatic actors across the board, so loose threads are quickly forgotten.
Pacific Rim is enjoying both critical and viewer praise, with it’s viewer ratings currently at 8.0 on IMDB (which is particularly good), and certified fresh at RottenTomatoes.com, with 72% of critics endorsing it.
Trivia Link: These questions start and end with Pacific Rim. See if you can guess the answers!
Ron Perlman is one of Guillermo del Toro’s favorite actors. What hit TV show from 1987 gave Perlman his big break?
What currently super-hot writer also wrote for that show?
What stratospherically popular show currently in production of it’s 4th season, and scoring 9.4 on IMDB, is based on a series of that writer’s books?
And lastly, which British actor who appears in Pacific Rim has also appeared in that show?