Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Review Rating: 7
In a future where humanity has to use Jaegers, giant combat robots, to combat the Earth-destroying mutant monsters called Kaiju, pilots are forced to use an obsolete Jaeger in the final showdown for the entire planet!
Set aside your disbelief and come along for the ride! The drifting ride, that is. At least the ridiculous premise the movies dropping in our laps is started right at the beginning of the film. So Kaiju appeared on Earth and began rampaging right out of Godzilla, causing humanity to band together to do anything to stop them, eventually leading to the cooperative building of the Jaegers and the going on the offensive fight. Things continue on their merry way like that for awhile, with Jaegers and their pilots becoming the post-apocalyptic equivalent of rock stars, with their own action figures and everything, of course. Then the bottom falls out and the Jaegers begin losing as bigger and badder Kaiju are coming more often. The plans to use Jaegers to save the world, along with all that time and money spent, is being mothballed in favor of the strongest wall humanity can manage to build. The world has gone to hell, and while humanity is still fighting, her spirit does seem rather broken. This is where we find our would-be hero, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), scraping an existence on the wall after his brother was lost in a tragic Jaeger fight.
So Raleigh used to be an ace Jaeger pilot, doing the whole drifting mind meld with the giant robot thing, until his brother was killed and Raleigh felt him go. Now that Earth is preparing to mothball the whole Jaeger project, his old boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) comes to recruit Raleigh for one last mission where they discover how to close the portal that allows Kaiju to travel to Earth and close it forever. Raleigh has to be paired with someone, one doesn’t drift in the Jaegers alone. But when Stack’s adopted daughter Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) decides she only wants Raleigh to drift with her, things certainly don’t go as planned, at first. Meanwhile scientists Newton (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are desperately trying to figure out how to close the portal, and of course one of them gets the brilliant idea to use a Kaiju brain fragment to drift with, so they can discover the monsters true intentions. But where does one get a Kaiju brain fragment at the 11th hour? From a mob-like rather rich trafficker of Kaiju body parts, in the form of Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), of course. So Newt gets to go along with this seriously risky procedure, and between his brains and the Mako-Raleigh-piloted ancient Jaeger called Gipsy Treature’s brawn, our varied heroes set out to save the world, one last time and forever!
And it would be cool too, if there weren’t just a few things we simply can’t overlook. One, it’s directed by Guillermo freaking del Toro already, which is awesome. The film is a far far cry from anything else del Toro’s done, which was probably the point, and yet. Visually, it’s almost impossible to get around the Power Rangers effect. A giant mish-mosh of dinosaur and mutant shark, fighting a bloody great robot, I don’t care how cool you make them look, all we’ll see is Power Rangers. The premise is weak and the passage of time versus human reaction to it is, we’ll say unlikely. I always enjoy Perlman running around in nifty shoes, but honestly his character was about the best one in the movie. The ending is more or less exactly what your average movie-goer would expect, and the rousing speech to our Jaeger pilots toward the end had all the punch of a dead octopus. Since the visuals make us laugh and most of the plot is laughable, why did we watch this again? Because, Guillermo del Toro, that’s why. And it is still better than trying to watch that Lone Ranger remake.