Blu-ray review: Pacific Rim – A roaring good time

WASHINGTON, October 13, 2013 — Guillermo del Toro’s big budgeted homage to Japanese monster movies now roars onto the Blu-ray format with Pacific Rim (Warner Home Video, rated PG: 13, $35.99).

In the year 2013, gargantuan lizard beasts called Kaiju are routinely surfacing from the Pacific Ocean through a mysterious rift deep in the ocean that allows the lobster-on steroids monsters to enter the Blue Planet’s oceans.

Jaegars, multi story robotic machines, celebrating mech anime cinema, are the only effective line of defense. Controlled by pilots wired into the bot’s cockpits, mentally linking the humans via a neural bridge, the mechs are suspended by cables and flown in by helicopter.

Fast-forwarding, it is now 2020 and due to escalating costs, the Jaegar program is being phased out even as the Kaiju threat increases. 

The evolving creatures begin to work in teams, attacking cities along the Pacific and the decimated Jaegar mechs are not able to keep up, leaving the very fate of mankind teetering on the edge of annihilation.

Pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) traumatically forced into retirement, and a female trainee Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who suffers PTSD like symptoms following a traumatic Kaiju attack when she was a child, are the only ones left to battle the Kaiju. Together these unlikely heroes, in an obsolete but last mech standing Jaeger, battle the Kaiju, surviving via an unlikely outcome.

Yeah, it’s Godzilla versus the Transformers for laymen and loaded with enough sensory overloaded mega-battles to raise the dead.

If one can suspend all disbelief, even as Ron Perlman shows up as the Kaiju black market body part dealer Hannibal Chau (sure, why not?), and if one can then buy into a silly plot played out over the long, two-hour spectacle, it’s a CGI creature lover’s dream.

Unfortunately, ridiculous plot points plop about the scorched ground like piles of steaming Kaiju manure.

One of the biggest miscues here is this: Why would the world government decommission the only viable defense against the giant beasts and instead build, get this, a really long wall. Maybe it’s Mr. del Toro’s commentary about America’s futile attempts to control its borders, but I highly doubt that much thought went into it.

Also, I would have traded my 6-inch limited edition statue of Ghidorah to actually see an entire fight on a sunny day and not mired in fog, rain, the dark of night or murky underwater. The maelstroms of computer-generated effects are just too deliciously sacred to be wasted on a dark screen.

From a popcorn munching point of view, it’s everything a B monster movie connoisseur can appreciate and that is not limited to the cliché ridden dialogue, half baked emotional moments, loud beasts (that appear to have a primordial lineage to creatures found in the market scene from Mr. del Toro’s “Hellboy 2”) and those unbelievable, epic fight scenes that nearly destroy entire cities in the combatants’ wake.

Despite the minor plot grumbling, what “Pacific Rim” delivers right is a nostalgic return to a male child’s bedroom floor, bringing to life an onscreen role-playing session full of cool monsters and robots loaded with memories.

Although, the film really needs to be seen in a 3D IMAX format for maximum effect, the Blu Ray version available now delivers some incredibly crisp visuals and booming sound.

I still suggest seeing it on the biggest Plasma or LCD monitor possible.

Best extras: Mr. del Toro is a master of minutia, methodically assembling fictional worlds (reference “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”) and using every artistic medium available to him to prepare his production plans.

Warner Home Video’s bonus features celebrate his passion.

Besides a full and wildly informative optional commentary track starring Mr. del Toro (listener alert: the director’s strong accent is a hard to understand but his obsessive narrative about the good and bad of the movie is refreshing) and an approximately 60-minute, piecemeal documentary covering every facet of the production on the movie disc, owners get a second Blu-ray disc packed with extras.

First, and most worthy of note, is an abbreviated Director’s Notebook that makes for mandatory reading.

Fans get nine pages from Mr. del Toro’s film journal. Each page offers dense, handwritten scribble with sketches, and features as well clickable hotspots tied to video snippets, concept art and English translations of select passages culled from the director’s mad ramblings.

For such an elaborate visual set-up, I could have used 50 pages to appreciate his meticulous efforts.

Also, look to the Shatterdom for a compendium of almost three dozen art galleries speckled with animatics and Marquette collections covering deigns topics such as the Kaiju, Jaeger, environments and an average citizen’s clothing.

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Joseph Szadkowski

For nearly two decades, Joseph Szadkowski has written about video games, comic books and action figures for The Washington Times.  

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