Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kukuchi, Charlie Day
Medium: Blu-ray / BD-50
Running Time: 131 minutes
Audio: English DTS Master Audio 5.1 and 7.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
If you’ve ever been a fan of giant monster movies, then you owe it to yourself to pick up Pacific Rim. I’d imagine that most of you have already seen the film when it released theatrically, but I found the film just as entertaining on a second or third watch as it was on the first. Pacific Rim is essentially a huge love letter to the giant monster sci-fi films of the past, and the only modern Hollywood film that’s managed to capitalize on the epic scope of the creatures involved. While something like Cloverfield did a solid job on showcasing the personal impact of a monster disaster, Pacific Rim takes that level of destruction and cranks it up to 11.
In Pacific Rim, set against the backdrop of Earth’s immediate future, otherworldly monsters dubbed Kaiju have invaded and set their sights on the destruction of humanity. These creatures are spawning from beneath the Pacific Ocean, emerging from an aquatic rift, with appearances escalating in frequency and size. Earth’s first line of defense—and only line really—are the Jaegers, giant robots piloted by two individuals that share a mental connection in order to sustain the mental strain of using the Jaeger for combat. While this isn’t what I’d label a plot dependent film, I’m not a huge fan of spoilers, so I’ll avoid going into additional detail. But that promise given of epic robot vs. monster action shown in various trailers is absolutely delivered here.
And thankfully that transitions from the big screen to your home T.V. pretty well. The 3D effect looks fantastic for something post-converted, and the 1080p image is clear of needless filtering and processing. Lots of elements pop to the foreground in 3D—especially during battle—providing a sizeable amount of depth on screen. And the audio is absolutely fantastic. If you’re looking to give your subwoofer a run for its money, feel free to pop this in and annoy the hell out of the neighbors on your block.
Of course the film is pretty great too. It’s the very definition of a summer blockbuster, easily accessible for all ages despite that PG-13 rating. During one of the small interviews with director Guillermo Del Toro in the special features, he makes mention of trying to make the film capture even the short attention span of a 12 year old, which I’d imagine Pacific Rim certainly does. Of course it also appeals towards adults, it just simplifies character traits into recognizable attitudes culled from other popular sci-fi films, avoiding tedious monologues, angst-ridden intolerable leads, and other pratfalls commonly seen in the genre. The characters can be a bit paper-thin, but that seems to be a conscious decision in an effort to push the giant robot vs. giant monster element to the forefront of the film.
And that’s a choice I can get behind, because the robot on monster action in Pacific Rim is really entertaining. Action sequences are well-shot—with some solid CGI—and things are easy enough to follow despite the gargantuan scale of the combatants. And there’s plenty of action on display too–from the beginning to the end of Pacific Rim there’s hardly a dull moment. Again, not a lot of time is spent on character set-up, Del Toro and company are painting in pretty broad strokes there, but we get enough emotional investment to care about how things shake out.
A lot of my love for the move is probably influenced by my appreciation of Godzilla, Gamera, King Kong, and all the giant monsters that have come before Pacific Rim. Del Toro is clearly a fan, something likeminded fans will see in the monster designs, and further pronounced by the film’s dedication to Ray Harryhausen and Ishirō Honda. I don’t think that your appreciation of Pacific Rim hinges on whether you’re fan of similar films, but it certainly enhances it.
As mentioned above, the 3D Blu-ray set I’m reviewing here is packed with special features. There’s an informative director’s commentary from Guillermo Del Toro that is definitely worth a listen. There are also a fair number of deleted scenes and a blooper reel as well. The 2D Blu-ray disc contains a number of these features, with cast and crew interviews and a lot of emphasis on design work and the various sets featured throughout the film. There’s a lot of informative material here for special FX fans that I found really interesting to watch. Most of these features are relatively short, about 4 to 6 minutes apiece, but there’s another disc devoted to additional features.
This second disc contains a longer piece called The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim, which focuses a lot on Guillermo Del Toro’s hands-on approach to VFX, and his partnership with ILM for the film. You typically don’t see special features that focus on some of the directing work that goes into shooting digital effects, and it’s nice to see a glimpse of that work here. Other features worth noting are the Director’s Notebook, an interactive glimpse at notes from Del Toro, along with some short video packages with the director that go into his thoughts on color design and color emphasis throughout the movie.
There’s also a lot of concept art packed in, featuring all Kaiju and Jaeger designs from the film, along with pilots and locations. There are even some neat glimpses at the maquettes for the Kaiju, which really makes me lament the lack of a toy line for Pacific Rim. Rounding out the features on the second disc is a detailed look at some of the “Drift” sequences from the film, with background information and biographies for some characters. And then there are four deleted scenes and a blooper reel that clocks in at around five minutes.
I’m really happy to see Pacific Rim get a great treatment for its initial Blu-ray release, and with absolutely no hesitation I’ll say this is well worth picking up. If you missed the film in theaters, here’s a great chance to rectify that and show Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures that this is a film that deserves to be a franchise. And if you already did your part in the box office, then you’ll enjoy revisiting the film and checking out all the bonus content this release has to offer.