Pacific Rim (12A)
Metal-studded heroes striding the city like colossi? Airlifted icons battling the forces of evil through our very streets? Sounds like the lead in for a lovely Tramlines joke but Guillermo del Toro's 'Transformers-meets Independence Day' actioner Pacific Rim, while sharing a terrific sense of scale with Sheffield's biggest fest, is more Forgemasters (the steelworks) than Forgemasters (the band).
For lo, Pacific Rim is a bold as brass, hot as hell and riveting – if slightly clunky – beast. Taking us twenty minutes into a future where gigantic thousand-foot-high monsters are emerging from a dimensional rift in the middle of the ocean to ruin everyone's fun, the nations of the world club together to start building super sized robots (any excuse) piloted by charisma-free soldiers. It's an ingenious plan with one small flaw. It doesn't work. So slightly disgraced Commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) brings together what's left – including a Russian bot crewed by grumps, a hot-headed Australian one and AN AMERICAN ONE (our hero) – to a mostly CGI warehouse for a safety-free final assult on the rim. Ahem. Trailer time!
Notable immediately for not being based on a bloody comic, board game, toy or videogame, Guillermo (Hellboy, Blade 2, Pan's Labyrinth) del Toro's film is a punchy joy. At its best when sweeping between the vast scale of its avatar-like creatures and tiny details (there's a great moment when one of the hundred-ton behemoths frightens a seagull), the robots are giant and robotey, the monsters huge and scary and Idris Elba DOES AN ENGLISH ACCENT! About bloomin' time, poor bloke! Elba is great, actually and highlights the main problem with the movie, which is that aside from his dogged, likeable boss with a heart of gold, the humans in Del Toro's hi-rise blockbuster are a bit unengaging. Which is a problem given the script seems to have more melodramatic flapping about than a scuba diver in Godzilla's undies.
That's always been one of del Toro's things tho. The Spanish director tends to find grownups more boring/frightening than monsters or children's imaginations (there's a flashback to one character's encouter with a monster that's absolutely terrifying). The quality of robot fighting gigantic monsters on show is top notch tho – and if Pacific Rim is missing a little of del Toro's glee and gore (also, no Spanish War analogies? For shame…) his tilt at the summer blockbuster movie market is still the strongest movie in the ring this summer. You'll believe a giant robot can suplex a giant monster.
Pacific Rim is showing at Cineworld Sheffield right now in 3D IMAX and 2D. Visit their website for more info.
Review by Rob Barker.