“Pacific Rim” Reviews Are in! Should You Watch This Summer’s Sci-Fi Action Flick?

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With director Guillermo Del Toro at the helm, the buzz surrounding the big-budgeted (at a reported nearly $200 million) summer sci-fi blockbuster Pacific Rim—out today—is loud and raucous, like the film is purported to be.

Pacific Rim is a direct outgrowth of the Japanese Godzilla films and takes place in a futuristic 2020, in the middle of a war where dinosaur-like sea monsters Kaiju have crawled out of the depths of the ocean to attack mankind, starting with San Francisco and chomping their way through other major coastal cities around the world. In defense, the Pan Pacific Defense Corps builds gigantic robots that are the size of skyscrapers called Jaegers that must be controlled by two pilots whose minds are connected together through a neural bridge. Although initially successful, the program is abandoned as the Kaiju become overwhelming. As a last ditch effort, Commander Stacker Pentecoast (Idris Elba) convinces maverick pilot Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) to return to operate a Jaeger in order to save mankind.

Critics have sounded off on the movie with some generally positive-leaning reviews, noting that it is a visual spectacle with heart and creativity, and luckily that Del Toro’s work is unlike Michael Bay’s soulless Transformers. However, many mention that it is still in the epic sci-fi category, and must fit in the constrictions of such a box office genre. Check out what the major critics have to say:

Variety—Justin Chang

“Viewers with less of an appetite for nonstop destruction should brace themselves for the squarest, clunkiest and certainly loudest movie of director Guillermo del Toro’s career, a crushed-metal orgy that plays like an extended 3D episode of ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ on very expensive acid.”

Los Angeles Times—Kenneth Turan

“Guillermo del Toro is more than a filmmaker, he’s a fantasy visionary with an outsized imagination and a fanatical specificity, a creator of out-of-this world universes carefully conceived down to the smallest detail. His particular gifts and passions are on display in the long-awaited ‘Pacific Rim’ and the results are spectacular.”

The Hollywood Reporter— Todd McCarthy

“In most ways, this paradoxically derivative yet imaginative sci-fi epic is everything every monster movie since the beginning of time might have wished it could be: In no way pinched budget-wise, it’s got first-class special effects, crafty behemoths that calculate and react to circumstances in non-dumb ways, a smart director who injects a sense of fun and surprise whenever he can, a fair percentage of characters you don’t mind watching, and a few decent plot twists. In this genre, that’s saying something.”

The Wall Street Journal— Joe Morgenstern

“‘Could be worse’ isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of ‘Pacific Rim,’ but my head is still ringing, and hurting, from long stretches of this aliens vs. robots extravaganza that are no better than the worst brain-pounders of the genre.”

Rolling Stone—Peter Travers

“The Pacific Rim trailer gave me nightmares. For all the wrong reasons. Seeing machines bumping fenders made me think the great Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) had transformed into Michael Bay, the Antichrist of techno fantasy. Bay’s films feel untouched by human hands. Pacific Rim, thank the gods of cinema, is the work of a humanist ready to banish cynicism for compassion. Don’t get me wrong. Robots and aliens still do thrilling battle, but del Toro drives the action with a heartbeat. It makes all the difference.”

New York Times— A.O. Scott

“If you walk in expecting subtlety, or even novelty, you may find yourself more tormented than entertained. But ‘Pacific Rim’ is also a reminder — either just in time or much too late — that this kind of movie can and should be fun. Some of those catchphrases are mildly clever. The lab coat mumbo-jumbo is amusing. The noble sentiments touch sweet chords. And who does not delight in seeing a robot punch a dinosaur every now and then — or pretty much constantly for two hours?”

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