May contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
See on IMDb
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes-a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)-who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
It’s been a very long time since I enjoyed a movie this much. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’ve seen it 4 times since it came out 2 weeks ago! Twice in regular, once in 3D, and once in IMAX 3D (AMAZEBALLS)! I haven’t had so much fun while watching a movie since Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest came out. I was completely engaged, staring rapt at the screen with a ridiculous expression of bliss on my face. Seriously, I felt like a kid again!
I still remember the first time I saw the trailer:
Because the whole piloted robots idea reminded me of anime mecha, and one of my favorite anime series ever is Escaflowne. So I was absolutely DYING to see it!
Guillermo Del Toro did NOT disappoint. The detail was incredible, you guys. In the IMAX showing (which is basically a full-body movie experience anyway), I felt like I could reach out and feel the worn metal of the Jaeger’s suits, feel the scaly roughness of the Kaiju’s hides. Everything was SO realistic and convincing! Even on the 4th time watching it, I’m still blown away by the detail. In certain scenes you can see the inner clockwork of the Jaegers, see the gears and levers turning and whirring. And the wear and tear on the Jaeger armor made them look 100% real.
I am a huge fan of Del Toro’s monsters (Hellboy 2 and Pan’s Labyrinth). He is so freaking amazing at designing creepies that it’s insane! The dude is a genius. (I’m desperately hoping he picks up the rights to Darkfever and Daughter of Smoke and Bone!!!!) The action scenes were what made the movie. They were heart pounding, edge-of-your-seat intense! (Did I mention there are OCEAN battles?!) There were plenty of very badass scenes, one in particular (my personal favorite scene in the whole movie) where Gipsy Danger comes after the Kaiju Otachi, dragging an entire cargo ship as a weapon – BAD. ASS. – coupled with the kickass music (look up the song ‘No Pulse’ on the soundtrack!) – EPIC. I could watch that scene over and over again and not get sick of it!
I loved the characters! Our main character, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), is a happy-go-lucky, slightly cocky guy until he loses his brother. 5 years later, he’s still the playful guy, but has inner demons to deal with – the loss of his brother, who was literally a part of him because of the neural bridge. They were connected on more than a brotherly level because they’d been in each other’s minds.
Then there’s Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) – I looooved her! She’s totally kickass and can speak her mind. It was obvious (very obvious) that she had the hots for Raleigh from the start – which, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t? The dude is pretty darn sexy. (And has several sizzlin’ shirtless scenes, might I add.)
But what starts off as a physical attraction soon turns to much more than that. I’ve seen complaints (okay, one in particular…basically every ‘complaint’ I talk about is really only from one blog – I didn’t agree with her review at all but I’m going to state why in a positive manner) that there was instalove between Mako and Raleigh. This is not true. Yes, there was a tad bit of instalust, as Mako was rather starstruck with Raleigh at first. (If he was stripping across the hall from me, I’d totally be peeping through the eye hole, too. Just sayin.) But again, the actual emotional connection develops much more slowly.
This is not the front line of the movie, despite what some may say. Yes, there is heavy emphasis on their relationship, but only because it is crucial for any two Jaeger pilots to be connected at an emotional level to pilot it to their best capacity. The action is the main focus of this movie.
There was also complaint about sexism because Mako was portrayed as ‘weak’ and ’emotional.’ This I disagree vehemently. Mako is the top of her class in trainees, and easily kicks Raleigh’s arse in practice combat (he even tells her he would hold nothing back, in which her reply was ‘neither will I’). How is that weak? The first time she experiences a drift (neural connection with another pilot) she ‘chases the RABIT’ (Random Access Brain Impulse Triggers) and gets stuck in a memory – not because she’s weak or emotional, but because she’s a rookie and didn’t know how to handle it because it was her first time drifting (which they explain, if you actually pay attention). The only emotion that Pentecost was worried about her bringing into the drift was vengeance. Plus if you’ve seen the movie, you should remember that it was actually Raleigh who goes out of sync first, not Mako. Furthermore, when it seemed there was no hope of survival – no plasma rounds, no weapons left, oxygen critical – and even Raleigh was giving up, Mako still found a way to carry on (*ahem* sword, more badassery!) and avenge her family. So no, I don’t think Mako was the ‘weak link.’
*clears throat* Anyway, I got off on a little tangent there…back to the characters. Other than Raleigh and Mako, I loved the secondary characters too. Newt (Charlie Day) and Hermann (Burn Gorman) were the hilarious comedic relief. To be honest, Charlie Day’s voice drives me INSANE when he gets excited (if you’ve seen him, you’ll know!) but he cracks me up, and he was perfect for the part of the Kaiju-obsessed Doctor. And Herman was perfectly nerdy and awkward, it was so funny! Adding to the comedy in a very dry manner, there was Hannibal Chau. Dude, it’s Ron Pearlman. Need I say more?
I adored Hercules Hansen (Max Martini). First of all, he’s Australian! What’s not to love? (Umm hellooo, awesome accent!) He was a great father figure to Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky), who was a bit of an egotistical asshat but still had a few redeeming moments. And let’s not forget the hard-ass Marshall, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). He was SO blunt and no-nonsense, I loved it!
The world-building was fabulous…aliens that come from deep in the Pacific instead of Outer Space? Yes please! Space aliens are so horrendously overdone in science fiction, it was very refreshing to see a different angle. I felt that Del Toro did a great job setting the world up – and in a span of 5 minutes at that. After Newt drifts with a Kaiju, he explains the world in a sentence or two, in very simple and easy to understand terms. Brilliant!
I LOVED the Jaegers and the Kaiju! The Jaegers were designed specifically to resemble their countries: Gipsy Danger, America, to resemble a gunslinger and the Chrysler Building; Striker Eureka, Australia, to mimic a Land Rover with the outback theme; Crimson Typhoon, China, to resemble a medieval warrior; Cherno Alpha, Russia, a cross between a tank and containment silo to give the impression of a walking nuclear reactor. BRILLIANT. They looked absolutely amazing, and each had their own distinct style and personality. The Kaiju were terrifying and colossal, with inspirations from a goblin shark, a bouncer, a crustacean, a komodo, and a dragon from Chinese mythology. Pretty wide variety!
Something else I really enjoyed was the bit of culture in the movie. a) The characters weren’t white washed – there was a very large array of races and ethnic backgrounds, and b) Because one of the main characters is Japanese, there were some dialogues in Japanese. I looooove the Japanese language; I think it’s beautiful and I’ll never tire of hearing it. I relished the few scenes where Mako was speaking to Stacker in Japanese. (And as if he needs to be any sexier, Raleigh can speak it too! Eep!) Because I used to be mildly obsessed with anime (namely watching Escaflowne subbed), I had a few fangirl moments. Del Toro is a bit of an anime nerd himself, which earns major bonus points!
I was literally obsessed with this movie after I saw it. It’s all I could think about, the score was all I could listen to, and I was itching to see it again. No joke, it’s my new favorite movie. Okay, so it’s tied with Fifth Element because…well, it’s Fifth Element.
A few other things….
1) The score for this movie has landed itself in my top 3 favorite scores, EVER, right behind Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. I love the main theme SO much! It’s perfect for the feel of gearing up for an action-filled fight scene!
2) THIS video where Del Toro talks about his influence from anime’s mecha:
and 3) the EPIC marketing with these gorgeous posters:
This poster is at my local movie theater…I WANT IT SO BAD. Seriously. I’m tempted to ask them if I can take it when they’re ready to trash it!
I loooove these!
World building: 5/5
Visual effects: 5+/5
Overall rating: 5+/5
Wow four times is definitely a sign that you love a movie tons! The premise of aliens coming from the Pacific ocean sounds amazing, and the world-building sounds even more fantastic! I love how the detail was really well-done, I’ll never understand how video editors can do that merp.
Fantastic review, Jessi! <33