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Pacific Rim (2-Disc Special Edition)

FILMMAKER Guillermo del Toro is a wholly original talent (see Pan's Labyrinth and his two Hellboys) but one can't help assume Pacific Rim was generated from this easily pitched concept, studio-friendly concept: Transformers vs. Godzilla.

In the year 2020, Earth has been under attack from gigantic reptilian monsters rising from a dimensional rift deep in the Pacific Ocean. The creatures -- dubbed Kaiju -- don't seem to have any purpose other than smashing coastal cities, so the combined nations of the world put aside their differences and pool their resources for a military response. This takes the form of gigantic war-bots -- dubbed Jaegers -- so massive, they need to be piloted by two individuals psychically conjoined to create a single big warrior brain.

Rock stars among these chosen few Jaeger-meisters are Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and his brother, whose successful run of Kaiju takedowns is tragically cut short in the movie's first few minutes.

The bereft Raleigh spends subsequent years eking out a living in Alaska before he is brought back into the Jaeger program to be teamed with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a young woman orphaned by a Kaiju assault years earlier and looking for a little payback.

Meanwhile, an off-centre scientist named Newton (Charlie Day) attempts to gather intelligence on the Kaiju via mind-meld with a still living kaiju brain, a mission that takes him into the company of a sleazy Hong Kong-based kaiju-parts black marketeer named Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman).

A movie about robots vs. monsters is obviously going for the broad strokes when it comes to entertainment value. And del Toro delivers this, especially in the film's colossal battle scenes at sea and on the rainy cityscapes of Hong Kong.

But the devilish joy of the film is in its details, whether it's Hannibal Chau's rakish style choices, the steampunk fixtures of a Russian-made Jaeger, or the increasingly fiendish biological defence mechanisms of those demonic Kaiju.

As he demonstrated in Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro respects the power of myth. He uses that wisely here, mixed with a sense of outsized fun.

DVD extras include lavishly detailed director's notebooks and a blooper reel in which the manic Day figures frequently. Four stars out of five

 

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 17, 2013 C7

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Updated on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 8:55 AM CDT: adds video

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