This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of catching Pacific Rim [Link to Wikipedia article] in a theatre and that too in 3D. While it was pretty much a no-brainer in terms of a choice of movie when my friends suggested a movie outing, the fact that it turned out to be such a good choice was something that my friends and me were pleasantly surprised with.
In the near future, ‘The Breach’ opens up in the Pacific Ocean which provides an interdimensional portal for the ‘Kaiju’ to devastate human cities. What are the Kaiju? Just imagine Godzilla viewed at approximately 20 times its size and you can imagine what a Kaiju looks like. Of course, Godzilla was one of a kind while the Kaiju comes in various shapes and sizes ranging from ones which look like oversized Godzillas to ones which look like the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park which have been fed a healthy diet of steroids, radioactive materials and other size-increasing supplements. The only reason for the existence of Kaijus is to wreck extreme devastation on humans and human settlements.
In fact the prequel to the Opening Credits has a voice over alternated with visuals of how Kaijus destroyed coastal cities all over the world ranging from San Francisco to other Japanese and Asian cities. It also introduces viewers to the ‘Jaeger’ program, a joint collaborative effort in which all the countries of the world unite to build these huge human-controlled war machines. Think of the Transformers, now multiply them by around 20-25 times their size and lo and behold, you get a Jaeger. These Jaegers are co-piloted by two humans who are ‘neurally connected’ using what is termed ‘The Drift’. This sequence shows how one Jaeger, ‘Gipsy Danger’ wins a battle with one Kaiju but at the cost of losing one pilot in the process. The remaining pilot, Raleigh Becket, ends up devastated with the loss of his co-pilot, his brother and resigns from the Jaeger program.
The movie then moves on to events some years later, when the Kaijus have gained an upper hand on the Jaegers and only 4 Jaegers are left in the whole world with the Kaiju attacks increasing in frequency and destruction. The ‘smart’ heads of Government have by now decided to discontinue the Jaeger initiative and are now concentrating on building ‘The Wall of Life’, a huge interconnected Coastal Wall to protect humans and their cities from the marauding Kaijus.
It is at this juncture that Marshal Stacker Pentecost (played wonderfully well by Idris Elba) approaches Raleigh to rejoin the Jaeger corps for a final pre-emptive strike against the Kaijus by directly striking The Breach and closing the portal through which they enter our world. What happens thereafter and whether the Jaegers succeed in closing The Breach forms the crux of the movie.
What works beautifully well for this movie is the fact that the action sequences rely on good old fisticuffs where the Kaijus and Jaegers are pretty much beating each other down to pulp. Rather than overwhelming viewers with too much technical jargon and sci-fi fundas, the director, Guillermo Del Toro has taken an effort to keep the story simple, easy to understand and made the entire story very relatable by its viewers.
There is good old fashioned ‘patriotism’ in the form of the Marshal being extremely selfless and continuously encouraging all his Rangers to perform to the best of their abilities. There is the whole parental concern angle being exhibited in the form of the Marshal hesitating in allowing Maka Mori to be Raleigh’s co-pilot. There is the emotional baggage that Raleigh carries due to the loss of his brother. There is the healthy rivalry that the Striker and Gipsy Danger display. All these wonderful emotions and traits which we find in normal movies are all present here which make the movie all the more relatable.
Also, if one watches carefully, the viewer will grasp all the little tributes that the Director pays to movies like Avatar(the concept of The Drift and neural connect), Godzilla (obviously the Kaijus), Transformers (the Jaegers),Independence Day (the Marshal’s speech just before the final assault on The Breach). These are Guillermo Del Toro’s way of giving a friendly nod to all these wonderful movies which came out before him and whose concepts he probably has used in Pacific Rim.