I didn't know what I was in for when I sat down to watch "Pacific Rim."
I'd seen the trailer, but hadn't read anything about the movie. I knew it was about giant robots fighting monsters that came from the ocean, and I was glad Michael Bay wasn't involved.
The first 15 minutes told me everything I wanted to know.
The latest film from director Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth", "Hellboy") delivers great action, amazing special effects and a solid story in the most enjoyable summer blockbuster I've seen in a long time.
"Pacific Rim" takes place in the not-too-distant future when massive monsters called "Kaiju" begin rising from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and destroying civilization as we know it.
The first Kaiju levels three cities before modern military technology finally takes it down. When more Kaiju begin to appear, the world unites and pools its resources to build new weapons to fight back. Those weapons, called "Jaegers," are giant robots controlled by two pilots, who connect their brains and act out its movements from a cockpit inside the robots' heads. The Jaegers do what the pilots do, as long as their mental connection stays strong.
At first, the Jaegers and their world-saving pilots are enough to stop the Kaiju. But as time goes on, the relentless monsters begin to evolve and arrive more frequently, overcoming the Jaegers and killing many of the best pilots. While leaders around the world lose hope, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) scrapes together the last remaining pilots and robots at a Hong Kong stronghold for one last stand.
This movie certainly favors style over substance. The acting is sub-par, but everything we see looks great on the big screen. The costumes and sets added a subtle element of realism to this science fiction fantasy that I didn't expect.
The story isn't as good as the action, but it holds its own. The subplot where quirky scientists study the Kaiju (led by Charlie Day of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fame) to figure out why they keep attacking was a little bit weak, but I suppose developing it further would mean leaving more battle scenes on the cutting room floor.
Del Toro (who also co-wrote the movie) insisted he wasn't paying homage to classic Japanese monster movies with his new film.
"I felt there was a chance to do something fresh, something new that at the same time was conscious of the heritage, but not a pastiche or an homage or a greatest hits of everything," Del Toro told the Los Angeles Times. "One of the first things I did is make it a point to not check any old movies or any other references. Like start from scratch."
There isn't a lot of star-power in this movie, but it doesn't matter. The stars are the robots and monsters that battle across cities, at the bottom of the ocean, and even high in the Earth's atmosphere. Each Jaeger has its own unique look and fighting style, as do the Kaiju.
If you're even mildly interested in this kind of movie, I highly recommend "Pacific Rim." It was the most fun I've had at the movies this summer.
But don't just take my word for it:
I saw a pre-screening of Pacific Rim yesterday and it's easily one of my favorite movies of all time.KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) July 4, 2013