Pacific Rim. 2013. US. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Written by del Toro and Travis Beacham. With Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi. In English, and Japanese with English subtitles. 35mm. 132 min.
Pacific Rim imagines a future in which devastating monster attacks on major Asian and American cities have become the norm, and humanity’s best chance to fight back is via “Jaegers,” gargantuan mech suits piloted by neurally linked human operators. Cowritten with Travis Beacham, Del Toro’s eighth feature is an epic, unabashed homage to Japanese kaiju (giant monster) and Tokusatsu (special-effects driven fantasy) genre icons like Ultraman, Godzilla, and Gamera. Washed-up Jaeger pilot Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), whose brother is killed in an early battle sequence, is given a shot at redemption by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the world-weary marshall of Earth’s defense corps whose rah-rah speechifying revs up the audience for Del Toro’s rock-em sock-em set pieces. *Pacific Rim*’s emotional heart is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuji), a conflicted rookie Jaeger pilot who lost her parents in a monster attack at a young age; as with Pan’s Labyrinth, the stuff of fairy tales allows for a perceptive exploration of childhood trauma and the costs of survival.