(director/writer: Guillermo del Toro; screenwriter: Travis Beacham; cinematographer: Guillermo Navarro; editors: Peter Amundson/John Gilroy; music: Ramin Djawadi; cast: Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), Charlie Day (Dr. Newton Geiszler), Rob Kazinsky (Chuck Hansen), Max Martini (Herc Hansen), Ron Perlman (Hannibal Chau), Clifton Collins Jr. (Ops Tendo Choi), Burn Gorman (Gottlieb), Diego Klattenhoff (Yancy); Runtime: 131; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Guillermo del Toro/Thomas Tull/Jon Jashni/Mary Parent; Warner Brothers Pictures and Legendary Pictures; 2012)
“for those who can appreciate the sophisticated special effects.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A hokum disaster sci-fi film mixing together nonsense and sober thoughts, as style pervades over substance. It was made for a budget of $180 million. Its repetitive story of battling machines is never fully developed, though with a dab of humanitarianism thrown in for quality control. It can be seen in 3-D, but that form adds nothing to the film. It’s dedicated to monster maven special effects guys Ray Harryhausen and IshirōHonda, whose special effects films were always entertaining and innovative. Comic book lover Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro(“Pan’s Labyrinth”/”The Devil’s Backbone”/”Hellboy”) has fun as he wrestles with a predictable and familiar futuristic (circa 2020) saving the world pic that features robots and aliens. Del Toro co-writes with Travis Beacham.
It’s a pic made for those who can appreciate the sophisticated special effects over all else; especially the Godzilla-like creatures, called Kaijus (beasts), that appear through a breach in the Pacific Ocean. When these giant beasts come through wormholes in the Pacific Ocean from another universe, a world war takes place between the aliens and humans. The earthlings are losing the long and costly war even though they counter the giant monsters by building their own warrior giant robots. The fighters of the Kaijuns, honored as rock stars, are called Jaegers. They are two pilots positioned inside the robot, whose minds are arranged in sync. When defeat seems inevitable, to the rescue appears two unlikely recruited heroes – a washed up former pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), disillusioned after the death of his older pilot brother Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff), and a combat untested trainee Mako (Rinko Kikuchi, Japanese actress). They are teamed as resistance fighters to pilot the obsolete but legendary Jaeger, named Gipsy Danger. The big climax battle is set to take place in Hong Kong, where the invading sea creatures (Kaiju) battle the 25-story Jaeger robots. For comic relief two goofy Jaeger research scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) provide most of the humor.Ron Perlman has a cameo as the eccentric Hannibal Chau, an underworld dealer in HK.
It’s comic book friendly, and should suit a targeted audience of fanboys, techies, action-pic lovers, apocalyptic spectacle lovers, lovers of summer big-budget spectacle films and monster B-film lovers.
Del Toro’s blockbuster pic, a labor of lighthearted love, is amazingly even noisier than Michael Bay’s Transformer, which speaks volumes for this techno fantasy film.
REVIEWED ON 7/12/2013 GRADE: C+