Opening July 12, Pacific Rim is a groundbreaking $180 million ‘monsters versus robots’ movie. The concept of ‘mecha versus kaiju’ is a staple in the world of manga and anime, the worldwide phenomena from Japan, but bringing it to live-action (with a healthy dollop of CGI) blockbuster film is a bold step. Pacific Rim is directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Travis Beacham. The film is set in the near future where soldiers pilot giant mecha into battle against invading giant monsters rising from a portal beneath the ocean. ‘Mecha’ is shorthand for huge mechanical humanoid robots—really huge, like 2500 tons huge! ‘Kaiju’ is a Japanese term best translated in this context as ‘sea monster’—think Godzilla.
In the near future, giant monsters identified as ‘Kaiju’ have risen from a portal in a crevasse beneath the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a war, which takes millions of lives and quickly consumes humanity’s resources. To combat the monsters, a special type of weapon is designed: massive robots, known as Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But as the war continues, even the Jaegers struggle to win the war against a relentless enemy. The Jaegers prove nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind led by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Director del Toro says he cast Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, Becket’s commanding officer, because “…this is a movie where I have had to deal with more dialogue than ever, and the way I cast the movie was: Who do I want to hear say these things? Who do I want Charlie Hunnam to go against? Who can really tell Charlie Hunnam ‘sit down and listen?’”
“I wanted to have Idris not be the blonde, square-jawed, Anglo, super hip marine that knows [everything], said del Toro. “I wanted somebody that could bring a lot of authority, but that you could feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. When I watched Luther, that’s the essence of the character. Luther is carrying literally the evils of the world on his shoulders. He’s doing penance for all humanity. Idris is one of those actors that is capable of embodying humanity, in almost like a Rodin sculpture-type, larger than life, almost like a Russian realism statue, you know, big hands, all the turmoil of humanity in his eyes. I wanted somebody that you could have doubts internally, and very few guys can do that.”
See the PG-13, 2 hr. 11 min. film at your local Carmike Theatre now.