Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013)

What's it about? In the near future, a tectonic shift under the Pacific Ocean has opened a portal to another world, through which monstrous kaiju periodically emerge to threaten the world. Naturally, humans have fought back the only way they know how - by building giant Jaeger robots operated by two telepathically linked pilots to fight the monsters. That's right, people, it's the Giant Monsters vs Giant Robots film you've all been waiting for.

Is it any good? It was of some amusement to me that this film at one point featured, quite literally, a Jaegerbomb. Have you ever got drunk on Jaegerbombs with your mates? That's what this film is like;  a lot of energy, a lot of noise, a lot of bull and a lot of people talking loudly and earnestly, but spouting absolute bollocks. File it under fun, but dumb as a bag of hammers. It's fun when the wonderfully realized monsters from del Toro's fertile imagination are stomping the shit out of various cities and well-known landmarks. In this, they are frequently helped by the less original-looking robots (think Transformers or a giant Iron Man), who also leave a trail of destruction in their wake, despite being supposedly there to protect humanity. The impressive CGI means that these roboto-a-monstero smackdowns are the undoubted highlights of the film - there's no doubting del Toro's flair for the visuals and epic spectacle. Sadly, however, the film also shows signs of being smacked in the head too often by a giant robot, with a feeble-minded, derviative plot which borrows merrily from the likes of Independence Day, Top Gun, Avatar and Armageddon to produce some ripe moments of cheese and plot-holes you could throw a Category 5 kaiju through. If you got annoyed by the ease at which the entire alien invasion in Independence Day was scuppered with a single laptop, this will make your head explode with indignation. And the less said about the 'comedy' scientists, the better - perhaps they were planning to stun the monsters into submission with their oh-so-hilarious double act. Only Ron Perlman in a cameo role, and Idris Elba, who bellows impressively throughout, distinguish themselves from the bland cast, which includes Wotisface, PrettyGirl and ThatfellafromEastenders playing cliched, forgettable characters. Then again, perhaps they all knew that del Toro only had eyes for the monsters. And to be fair, they are worth looking at.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Generally well-received, with most people accepting that there was a genuine sense of fun and spectacle about the film, despite the shoddy plotting and half-baked characters. In particular, a survey of 12-year old boys rated the monster fights as the best thing they had ever seen, ever, although they bemoaned the lack of female nudity. Although del Toro has been at pains to stress that this was not really a homage to those old Japanese monster movies, older viewers will nevertheless be likely to feel a tug of nostalgia for the days when men in rubber suits acted out such epic battles as Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla and Mothra vs Godzilla. Indeed the bit in the latter where Mothra sacrifices herself to save her only egg contains more emotional impact that all of Pacific Rim put together. Elsewhere, fans of mecha-anime will note some of del Toro's inspirations, whilst gamers will pick up on several nods to various mecha video-games, with Shadow of the Colossus another obvious touchstone. You can see some conceptual artwork and read more about the creature design process here. Please note, I don't pretend to know anything about any of these references - I do have a life, you know. Sort of.

What does the Fonz think? He did the mash, he did the monster mash.

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