Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in a scene from the movie Pacific Rim.
Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in a scene from the movie Pacific Rim. Kerry Hayes - Contributed by Warner Bros media website

Movie review: Pacific Rim

BIG machines duking it out against large, reptilian monsters. Sounds like a b-grade Godzilla movie right?

Director Guillermo del Toro's action fantasy flick Pacific Rim is a bit more than that.

It takes the traditional Japanese genres of kaiju (big monsters) and mach (giant machines) and translates them for a Western audience.

After giant monsters start attacking Pacific coastal cities, emerging from a portal deep in the Pacific Ocean, with increasing but predictable regularity, the world's nations band together to come up with a defence.

Their solution is the Jaeger Program: highly trained teams of pilots operate sky-scraper tall machines that can fight the gigantic invaders.

Yes it's a bit gung-ho, with events culminating in a few, mostly Western, heroes left to save the day.

But by painstakingly creating his fantasy world down to the very last detail, del Toro draws the viewer into his story.

The Kaiju war is played out over a decade, rather than the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am pace of the Transformers franchise.

Rather than just focusing on the action, which is big and excellently animated, del Toro looks at the events from a human perspective.

Humanity's short-sightedness sees the Jaeger Program scrapped as soon as it seems like the worst has passed, and a cheaper option is offered.

Shady underworld figures sell parts of the dead kaiju, thought to have medicinal benefits, on the black market.

And for all of the fancy weaponry, the success of the jaegers comes down to the mental and emotional compatibility of the pilots.

Idris Elba is the stand-out of the cast as the steadfast Jaeger leader Stacker Pentecost, who has the privilege of delivering the cheesy yet awesome line: "we are cancelling the apocalypse".

Cult favourite Ron Perlman also makes a great cameo.

My only major gripe is del Toro's casting of the UK's Robert Kazinsky and America's Max Martini as the father-son Australian Jaeger pilots.

Their accents are over the top and there are so many great Aussie actors who could have played their roles instead.

The action of Pacific Rim is so much easier to follow than any of the Transformers films, and has more substance to back it up.

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Pacific Rim

  • Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi.
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Rating: M
  • Verdict: 3/5 stars