It’s Godzilla made palatable to more than cult followers, including a setting in Tokyo. Pacific Rim is written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, and stars Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket (Nicholas Nickleby and Cold Mountain); English actor Idris Elba as the commanding officer Stacker Pentecost (he played Heimdall in Thor and Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom), Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori (a host of Japanese based films – she’s good), and Ron Perlman as the quixotic (and homocidal ) black marketeer Hannibal Chau – you’ll love his gnarly, quarrelly character.
The computer graphics visual effects are excellent, (not stupid looking as in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible series). However, the sequences are rather dark during the fight scenes — sometimes hard to distinguish friend from foe on “close-ups”, a little hard to follow, too. What’s happening is a war between all of united earth and the Kaijus, gigantic monsters from an interdimensionaI gap on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. They are combated by Jaeger (pronounced Yeager, as in Chuck). colossal fighting machines made in a humanoid likeness. They must be manned by a minimum of two pilots controlling the machine’s actions from inside. I was intrigued by what was called a “neural bridge” between the pilots, necessary because of the overwhelming mental strain on just one person. The two (and in one case, three) pilots, worked in tandem – one for the right brain and the other for the left, sharing memories good and bad.
There are memorable quotes from the movie, which means the dialogue is good,accompanied by an equally memorable delivery. Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau remarked that “I took my first name from a historical figure I respect, and my last name from my favorite Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn”.
I thought it was interesting, too, that the names of the characters were significant historically. Becket, of course, is the name of the saint and martyr, Thomas Becket, who put everything on the line for the integrity of his office and beliefs. Pentecost is the fire that touched the apostles with the Holy Spirit and brought them together as a unit. Then there’s the little scientist whose first name is Newton and whose last name is Geisler — Geisler meaning goat herder in German. He is fixated on the Kaijus and “herds” up any body parts for study. And, of course, the devil is represented sometimes as the cloven-hoofed goat. I’m probably reaching on the Geizler name, but still thought it interesting.
As the outer conflict escalates with the mega-monsters growing and evolving, so does the inner conflict within the confines of the Jaeger base. Pentecost makes an excellent center around whom all other characters revolve. His is a calm, commanding presence, but brooks no breech of conduct nor disrespect. As the earth arrives at the threshold of annihilation, even as personalities continue to collide, Pentecost holds to their mission at all cost. “Today”, he says, “we’re cancelling the Apocalypse!”
I did like Godzilla as a kid, and I like this adult version, too. As Godzilla was a good analogy for the nuclear age of fear, so Pacific Rim mirrors the fears of our own known world at the brink of annihilation. “Today”, said Pentecost, “we face the monsters that are at our door.” Just watch the news. The monsters are here.