Pacific Rim is a should be a classic example of the best of the ’10s films in a few decades. It probably won’t be, since it didn’t have terrific box office returns. But it exemplifies everything a big summer movie should be: great action scenes, naturally, but also fun characters, teamwork, an easy-to-follow but still gripping plot, and a sense of high stakes. In short, it’s a fun time.
The characters cover plenty of different countries — America, England, Japan, Australia, and Russia have all contributed characters to the international robotic struggle against the attacks of giant dimension-hopping monsters from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The comedic relief characters are refreshingly integral to the plot: two mad scientists who bicker with each other while figuring out how to stop the monsters for good. Ron Pearlman plays a great bit as a snappy-dressing Tokyo drug kingpin, too. The characters aren’t fleshed out strongly, as there’s too much monster-punching to get to, but what is shown isn’t cliche. The film’s plot takes an inspirational Independence-Day-style approach, as everyone bonds together in patriotism for their planet, bolstered by a rousing soundtrack.
The plot expands beyond just an endless stream of monsters, allowing the film to build to a climax beyond just the typical monster flick’s bigger and badder fight — although the climax is also bigger and badder on top of that. It doesn’t happen on the top of the Empire State building, but I’m sure they’re just saving that for the sequel.
The drama is high: since it’s an ensemble cast, there’s a higher danger that main characters can die, and a remarkable amount do. The apocalypse is nearing, too, and since they’ve been at war for a decade before the film starts, the possibility that humanity might be wiped out seems real, too. It’s this drama, combined with the fun of all-out, fresh, non-cynical robot-on-monster battles, that makes Pacific Rim my favorite film of the year.