Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Diego Klattenhoff
Written by: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language
Running Time: 131
Date: 07/12/2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The great, visionary director Guillermo Del Toro has always loved monsters, but his previous movies (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, etc.) usually show a taste for the intricate as well: in particular, clockwork and mazes. In his new Pacific Rim, anything intricate or delicate has been obliterated.

In the future, giant monsters (the Kaiju), arrive from another dimension, emerging through a fissure in the ocean floor. After much destruction, the humans figure out a way to fight them: giant robots (called Jaegers). However, these Jaegers are so complex that they must be piloted by two people, mind-melded together (which is called "the drift"). One such pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) barely survived a Kaiju attack that killed his brother; he wants nothing more to do with Jaegers. However, his old boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) needs him back for one, last big attack. And the tough, pretty Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) may have some influence in his decision as well. But can scientists discover the secret of the Kaiju in time?

The movie is so big and loud that the characters are eventually stifled, none more so than the two romantic leads (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi). However, Del Toro showers special attention on the comical scientist characters, played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. It's likely that he identified with their passion for monsters. Likewise, Del Toro's favorite actor, Ron Perlman, is here in a showy, hilarious role as a black market monster parts dealer. Not surprisingly, the battles and effects are spectacular, making clear use of space and creating a sense of size and weight -- unlike the clumsy, shaky Transformers movies. It could have used more heart, but Pacific Rim gets the job done.

Warner Home Video has released some deluxe 3D Blu-ray editions, which I have not seen because, like most people, I don't own a 3D system (and don't really want one). But the set I received has three discs, the movie on a Blu-ray, a second Blu-ray full of extras, and a third DVD with the movie. The picture and sound quality on the movie disc is as exceptional as can possibly be expected. It's crisp, the colors and details burst from the screen, and the sound is thunderous but clear. Del Toro provides a commentary track on this disc, and we also get a series of short "focus points."

Typical for any home video release of any Del Toro movie, this one is full of extras. The second disc contains several HD extras, including the director's interactive notebook, a 17-minute featurette on the movie's design, a collection of artwork, breakdowns of the "drift" scenes, deleted scenes, and bloopers. Overall, this is an exceptional disc, and arguably plays better at home that it did in the theater with the overwhelming 3D and sheer volume.

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