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When the Kaiju (beasts), monstrous creatures, start rising from the Pacific ocean through wormholes that open to another universe, a devastating and drawn out war begins costing millions of lives and depleting earth's resources. In a desperate attempt to fight off the Kaiju, giant robots are built, the Jaegers (hunters), driven by two pilots whose minds are synchronised. But even the Jaegers find it hard to withstand the Kaiju and the forces defending mankind turn to two unlikely heroes - a washed up former pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested in combat but exceptional trainee Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) - who are teamed to pilot a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Michael Bay eat your heart out. Guillermo del Toro has made one bigger, louder, faster and more destructive than you. Pacific Rim is Transformers on steroids, Godzilla to the power of 10, The Avengers turbo-charged and bigger-suited than Iron Man. As for scale, it's as big as you can get, with vast alien monsters burrowing up from the ocean floor through a worm hole they have opened up from their universe to ours. Get that? Universe!

But it's not just scale and terrible destruction of entire cities in moments. The extra sci-fi juice lies in the notion that brains can be synched, virtually fused into one bonded unit acting as one. This is needed to harvest the power of the human brain, both left and right hemispheres, to enable a duo to pilot the enormous Jaegers, the giant hunter robots who try to defend earth in the face of acid spewing, shark toothed, long clawed beasts with beaks.

It may have been a commercial decision to cast a Japanese actress as the heroine partner but Rinko Kikuchi turns out to be a terrific choice, both vulnerable and strong, attractive but not a cutesy bimbo. Like his name, Charlie Hunnam is a guy next door type, a great pilot with a rebellious streak (natch) and some demon. But it's the tremendous supporting cast that really fires the film's engines, such as: Idris Elba as the wonderfully named top dog, Stacker Pentecost, authority and credibility oozing from every pore; Charlie Day as mad scientist Dr Newton and Burn Gorman as his sparring partner the even madder scientist Gottlieb; Clifton Collins Jr as the busy operations controller Tendo Choi; and not forgetting the wondrous and eccentric Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau, underworld dealer in Kauji bones and body parts.

The enormity of the fighting machines and beasts dwarfs skyscrapers, hence the level of property destruction. Although this is all very impressively done, it's not unique, with recent pulverisation of city blocks in films such as Man of Steel among others. Even cooler are the interactive hologram displays and visual systems, as well as the gadgetry worn by the pilots who look as though they are playing giant computer games controlled by their actions. Like virtual tennis only scaled up somewhat.

Also impressive is the extraordinary industrial strength design, with every possible locking and interlocking potential harvested for maximum gadget effect. There are a few quiet moments, probably 40 seconds in all, in which to gather our thoughts, but most of the time we are flying by the seat of our pants. It's not a film I would choose to watch on my night off, but it will be a monster itself at the box office.

Review by Louise Keller:
With eye-popping visuals that resemble a digital lightshow, Guillermo del Toro's film about an alien invasion combated by man-operated giant robots is extravagant in scale and loudly strident. In fact the sound mix is so heavily weighted to the music and sound that it is nearly impossible to make sense of much of the dialogue in various sequences.
Fortunately, once the story kicks in and the dialogue becomes less critical, our attention is diverted elsewhere - namely to the dazzling effects and brute power of the gigantic Jaeger robots while the beautifully depicted fantasy dragonesque Kaiju aliens roar spectacular cobalt and cerulean clouds from their disturbingly, distinctly shaped mouths. They are a sight to behold.

Intimacy assumes new depths as minds are shared - even with aliens - in a novel concept called drifting that brings its own brand of queasy humour. The sequence in which we enter into the Kaiju's immense brain is one I will not forget. My face went squishy and I felt a mix of fascination and repulsion. Many visuals are memorable, like that of a winged alien soaring to great heights, carrying with it a giant, transformer-like robot in which its operators are hanging on for dear life. The robot battles the alien in the oceans as though it was a bathtub, the spray of the water like a waterfall. Meanwhile cars, buildings, bridges and the world - are being swept away and trampled.

The large scale conflict is mirrored by hand to hand combat during the candidate trials and conflicts when frustrations and resentments come into play. The storyline too is layered: beyond the heroic saving the world scenario, there are the personal stories and connections between the characters. Charlie Hunnam is suitably heroic as Raleigh Becket, who finds a connection with Rinko Kikuchi's Mako. Idris Elba has great presence as the Commander in Chief whose aim is to be a fixed point and the last man standing. I especially liked Ron Perlman as the wonderfully drawn Hannibal Chau, who deals in alien organs and whose gold coated shoes are indicative of his showmanship

A totally immersive 3D experience that will have teenage boys drooling as their every fantasy is realised, Pacific Rim is big, bold entertainment that numbs the brain while it lasts before lingering like the memory of a fireworks display. The impact of the visuals reminded me of those in 1983's Brainstorm with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood, a key film of its time.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr, Burn Gorman, Robert M aillet, Rinko Kikuchi, Heather Doerksen

PRODUCER: Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Thomas Tull

DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro

SCRIPT: Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham,

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

EDITOR: Peter Amundson, John Gilroy

MUSIC: Ramin Djawadi

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Neskoromny, Carol Spier

RUNNING TIME: 131 minutes



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