Fantasy man Guillermo del Toro’s latest, Pacific Rim, is a large-scale love letter to Japanese sci-fi, but also an accessible blockbuster imbued with delightful eccentricities amid its broad elements.
In the near future, towering behemoths labelled ‘kaiju’ begin to rise from beneath the sea to wreak havoc across our planet. Humankind’s best defence against these monsters is – of course – human-piloted giant robots called jaegers, commissioned by the world’s governments. Years later, increasingly present and stronger kaiju look to overwhelm once and for all, and a jaeger programme on its last legs attempts to pull off one final stand for humanity.
Del Toro excels here in creating a distinctive and thrilling cinematic universe, delivering both a stellar aesthetic – a highlight being a brawl in a stunning rain-soaked, neon-draped Hong Kong – and fully realised, detailed world-building. Pacific Rim has some problems – one underwater battle is hindered by visual murkiness and lead Hunnam is frequently robotic himself – but the overall piece is an infectiously fun and pleasantly sincere example of classical story beats and archetypes executed expertly.