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Pacific Rim pays homage to past science fiction films


How do you stop aliens that want to eliminate the human race? In the epic Pacific Rim, director Guillermo Del Toro helms a summer blockbuster that harkens back to the best elements of science fiction films past. Don’t be fooled by the Jaegers – Transformer-like robots – Del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham craft a tight, thrilling story and populate it with engaging characters.    Photo: bloody-disgusting.com

With the planet’s countries working together, Jaeger’s (German for hunter) have been constructed as the ultimate weapon delivery system to battle the Kaiju (beast in Japanese). It takes two people to manage – with a mind meld that allows them to act in sync while each person controls one half of the robot.

As Pentecost, Idris Elba finally gains leading man status after several complex roles in television series such as The Wire and Luther. He stars with Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), who portrays Raleigh Becket, they try and stop invaders who have attacked earth from a rift that runs from our ocean to their world.

Pentecost and Becket appear as tropes at the outset, but they each become more sympathetic as their characters’ histories are revealed. Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) is the only woman on the team, and she earns her place in the fight. There is a superb sequence in the film that explains her motivation for stopping the monsters.

The summer’s best written blockbuster features an ensemble cast of excellent actors including the eccentric scientists Geiszler and Gottlieb (Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses), and Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones), contrasted with the tough father and son team played by Max Martini (Revenge), and Robert Kazinsky (TrueBlood). Frequent Del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman (Hellboy) is Hannibal Chau who may possess something that can help the team.

The lumbering steps of the Jaeger recall Ripley navigating the power loader in Aliens. While the attacks originate in the water, the Kaiju quickly move to land as they destroy cities faster than Godzilla. The Jaeger styles vary as the designs evolve to combat the assaults that get progressively more lethal. The glowing core at the center looks inspired by Stark Industries.

Del Toro’s homage to classic creature films is a kinetic, head-spinning ride!


Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: bloody-disgusting.com