Making the Grades
Director Guillermo del Toro has constructed a film that should please international markets as well as the one at home. (It’s set up perfectly for a two-player video game as well.) His cast of characters includes a nod to almost every nationality that all have to work together to defend Earth against a formidable foe.
The Kaiju were unable to endure the oxygen rich atmosphere that existed during the time of the dinosaurs, so the alien invaders settled in the seabed until we humans sufficiently polluted the planet. Now, thanks to global warming and a depleted ozone layer, they can exist above ground.
But these aren’t your average space visitors. These humongous creatures rival Godzilla when it comes to size and destructive abilities. And their target appears to be the human populations living along the coastline. While San Francisco endures an attack, Hong Kong becomes the main focus of the enormous scaly beasts. That only makes sense since del Toro’s seaside adventure has a definite feel of a Japanese anime—with a shot of Jules Verne thrown in. And the water setting in the film makes for some impressive special effects as the aliens and the humans go head to head in a battle in the bay.
To combat the enemy, nations have combined their scientific and technological skills to create towering robotic soldiers known as Jaegers. These massive machines are controlled by two pilots who are strapped inside. However these officers are one step above your average airplane crew. In order to move the huge robots, the human controllers must “drift” into one another’s minds. (Think of if as a Spock-like mind meld.)
Raleigh and Yancy Becket (Charlie Hunnam and Diego Klattenhoff) are two of the agency’s top men. These brothers have a special ability to get into each other’s head. But this skill also proves to be a handicap when Yancy dies during a brutal attack. Raleigh not only watches his brother die, he feels every emotion his sibling experiences. As a result of the tragedy, Raleigh walks away from the pilot’s chair.
Five years later he is approached by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). The Jaeger agency commander is mounting one last strike on the monstrous invaders and he needs Raleigh to take the controls of the almost obsolete machine he and his brother once piloted. It’s obvious who his new partner will be as soon as we see the petite Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) strolling across a rain-drenched tarmac. But like any good romantic interlude it takes a little time for the pair to figure it out. And she, like the insolent Raleigh, has a few issues to confront before they can become of one of mind.
While two battling scientists (Burn Gorman and Charlie Day) provide the comic relief in this movie, this script still packs a punch—literally. Despite being outfitted with guns and missiles, the robots most often engage in hand-to-hand combat with their enemy. Thankfully that means there is little blood in this film other than some superficial human injuries. Still many scenes, especially one involving a young girl, may be frightening for children. Yet with limited profanities and cursing, this loud, explosive adventure may be a good summer pick for teens and adults who enjoy sci-fi action. Just don’t forget to pack the earplugs!
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Pacific Rim.
Director del Toro includes an international crew in his movie. How can filmmakers appeal to a worldwide audience? Why are aliens a good choice when it comes to an enemy? How might a film be received in another country if they are portrayed as the “bad guy”?
How can a common enemy or cause bring people together? Why is that often difficult to do under normal circumstances?
What science does this film choose to ignore? Why is reality often suspended in sci-fi movies?
What elements of Japanese anime and Jules Verne stories are evident in this film?