Saturday, July 13, 2013

PACIFIC RIM: Ear-splitting thrills

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Clifton Collins, Jr. Ron Perlman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinzsky 

Review by James Colt Harrison

Appealing to the lowest common denominator, this film was made for impressionable boys who love to see things destroyed, squashed, blown to bits, and obliterated. Remember tearing wings off flies? Same principle here, only director Guillermo del Toro has been given a lot more money by the studio to play with his toys than we had as kids.  

Let’s see… is there a plot? Well, actually, there is in a cursory way. There has to be a reason for building all those huge robots. Some monstrous sea creatures, who look like a combination between a hammer head shark stuck onto Godzilla’s body, become a problem. Emerging from a big fissure in the ocean, the creatures are out to colonize the earth and rid the planet of human beings. The war between humans and amphibious creatures begins.  

Every action film needs a hero, and Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Beckett) of TV’s hit show Sons of Anarchy fills the bill with his steel-like six-pack and biceps. He’s blonde and cute and catnip to the ladies in the audience. He plays a washed up pilot who isn’t up to snuff on the new robots, but he is an ace when it comes to knowing the old equipment’s capabilities. The over-sized machines need two pilots. His former co-pilot was his brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff), killed by one of the sea monsters. Because most of the cast is a high-testosterone gathering of all men, the producers knew they needed to throw in a female who could also bring in big box office in Japan to satisfy the Godzilla-loving audiences. They also love Rinko Kikuchi. She’s the token “girl” who can barely speak English, looks startled most of the time as if saying “What am I doing in this great big sci-fi movie?!”,  and somehow qualifies to pilot one of the ultra huge robots from the inside. Don’t ask. She is so dainty she barely looks strong enough to push one of the levers or peddle furiously with her size 2 feet. Because she is a star in all of Asia, she comes through and turns out to be a terrific pilot and puts Hunnam to shame. She steals all his scenes. 

The action is, of course the core of the film. Accompanying the fighting are the sound effects. Never have there been such ear-shattering noises, crunches, bangs, crashes, and door-slammings. The sound is cranked up so loud even a bat would flee the theater in terror. It’s painful. It gives you a headache. If sound designer Scott Martin Gershin is responsible for the annoying, harmful sound effects, then he should be forced to listen to the film until his ears explode as did the audience’s. The sound is simply dreadful.
No doubt kids will love the movie and their parents will run shrieking to the refuge of the candy counter to bury their heads in a giant box of popcorn. So, it’s not great art.

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