PACIFIC RIM directed by Guillermo del Toro, written by Travis Beacham and del Toro, with Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day. A Warner Bros. release. 131 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (July 12). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
Pacific Rim plays as though it's been pulled from a manga Guillermo del Toro read when he was a child and has been trying to turn into a movie ever since. But it's an original work with the spirit of every Godzilla movie you've ever seen and every giant robot fight you've ever imagined. And it's a hell of a lot of fun.
The premise is simple: giant monsters invade the Earth, so humankind builds giant robots to punch the monsters until they fall down. Only now they're coming faster than we can repair the robots, and a radical new strategy is required.
To that end, giant-monster fighter Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) recruits former robot jockey Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who quit after losing his brother in battle. Raleigh joins a ragtag force of pilots and scientists in Hong Kong while the world topples around them.
No matter what's going on in the frame, the stakes are always clear and immediate. Del Toro directs with a lusty joy in combat, both supersized and on a more personal scale, using archetypal characters in much the same way James Cameron does. But del Toro is a more playful and humanistic filmmaker, forever finding odd little moments that make you smile in the midst of all the digital 3D mayhem.
What more could you want from a summer movie?