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Monsters just got bigger...and nastier



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Film review: Pacific Rim (12a)
Running time 133 minutes
Rating:****
Having watched – with pleasure and admiration – the work of actor Idris Elba in the masterly Wire series, and his highly regarded Luther in this country, one can only ask, with a plaintive tone of voice, what on earth he is doing in Pacific Rim?
If he was hired for his acting skills as the commander of an elite force of giant man-guided robots, combating giant monsters from another dimension, then his talents are sadly wasted on a visual effects-dominated film.
If he was hired as the possessor of a momentous voice (Morgan Freeman being another such) then he is of some use, uttering crucial lines such as “The Apocalypse has been cancelled!” – something for which we are all undoubtedly grateful.
Otherwise, it is a shame to see such talent under-utlised.
Similarly, how did Guillermo del Toro, the director of that dark Spanish fantasy masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth, come to be involved in Pacific Rim?
Only he can provide the answer for there is no clue in the film, which offers echoes of Transformers, Starship Troopers, Matrix Revolutions, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, and – importantly – Japanese Kaiju films of the 1950s, of which Godzilla is the most memorable.
However, this is not a moan about a rotten film, made by good people, because Pacific Rim is actually a wonderful piece of visual work and at times hugely entertaining.
The story, if you ignore all the factual, narrative and reality faults, is straightforward.
Monsters emerge from the sea, via a dimensional portal, intent of stripping the earth of its resources. Man responds by creating giant, fighting robots controlled by two ‘pilots’ in mental union.
One such pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) sees his brother and co-pilot killed and goes off piste for a few years until called back by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) to renew the fight against bigger and nastier monsters now emerging.
He teams up (somewhat inevitably) with attractive Japanese female pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and battle is joined, helped by loony scientists, aggressive Australian team-mates, and some of the best visual effects seen for a good while.
Much combat ensues. In the 1950s Japanese films this would have involved two men in rubber suits stumbling about a set of Tokoyo, knocking over buildings.
But here it involves wholesale destruction of, well, everything, and you worry about small people getting in the way of a 200-foot robot falling on his butt.
Still, as Pacific Rim is classified as a 12a, no-one sees any of that and we can all enjoy the spectacle without guilt, remorse, or indeed, much call for intellectual rigour.
In fact we can come out of the cinema after 133 minutes of destruction, feeling a lot better and ready to tackle the redecoration of the spare room in a decisive kind of way.
An ideal film for DIY enthusiasts, demolition workers, and anyone wanting to redesign our social fabric.



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