PACIFIC RIM - One year on - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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PACIFIC RIM - One year on

With a sequel planned for 2017 and an animated TV series in the development stages, Tom Pheby takes a second look at Pacific Rim.

One year ago Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim - whose title was only an "ing" away from a unique 'Adult Entertainment Industry' version! - arrived on cinema screens to a fanfare and with unparalleled hype, this is often the trouble with cinema today.

Trailers full of stomping action, words spoken with good intentions and excitable reviews of elements of the parts but not the sum total of what's on offer. For me it was comparable with the Emperors New Clothes, we had to be amazed because we were told we had to be, but I'm afraid I've never blindly subscribed to Hollywood's mantra. Maybe I'm not the only one because with an estimated budget of $190million, Pacific Rim grossed just over half that in US cinemas. Whilst by no means a flop (the International release savings it's proverbial bacon), it certainly didn't perform as well as all those involved had hoped it would. I think this is because although Pacific Rim is a visually extraordinary movie, it just doesn't have the necessary clout to live up to the boasts and expectations and ultimately fails in a number areas.

Pacific Rim feels insanely long, and throughout it's 132 minutes it offers no emotional attachment, deals with a series of quite dull character conflicts and on occasions really lacks a sense of urgency. The lead character, Raleigh Becket (played by Charlie Hunnam), doesn't grab you by the lapels and seems slightly lifeless, which is not intended as a reflection on the actors ability more with the part and the writing. The charismatic Idris Elba, as the wonderfully named Stacker Pentecost, unfortunately doesn't spend as much time in the film as I would've liked, but when he does appear it's a robust, screen filling performance.

Story wise, it's robots (Jaegers - German for hunter) against monsters (Kaiju - giant beast in Japanese) that hail from another dimension by way of a porthole on the seabed of our beleaguered planet. The massive metal warriors are controlled by pilots who have to be linked in with their psychic abilities (known as The Drift), without this ability they face the gloomy prospect of ending up as a "scrap metal challenge" underwater special (loved that show!). It's a sort of not very clever but blatantly obvious transformers on a grandiose scale.

Rayleigh Beckett is a washed up, washed out pilot that can't come to terms with his considerable ego or emotions (yawn). We are subjected to a series of scenes where two inexperienced pilots, Beckett and Mako Mori (Rinko Kiluchi), have to bond to save the planet against overwhelming odds. The films motto seems to be that heroes are not individuals, so we head in that direction to consider the part of us we never thought existed and heavy handedly put the cause before ourselves. All very touching, but I like my selfish heroes dominating in their capes and pants, grabbing the applause for themselves.

Having said all this, Pacific Rim is an enjoyable movie. If you take a second look at it, concentrate less on the story and view it as mostly extravaganza... well it certainly stretches the genre to the point of popping. Overall the plot is not unique, nor is it dreadfully original, but it certainly offers a variation on a theme. No single actor does them self justice or injustice, basically Pacific Rim is entertaining without being a masterpiece. It's like having a solid gold bucket, looks nice but it has limited uses.

Upon release Pacific Rim was lauded by some Rap artist as one of the best films of all time (Kanye West or Fifty Pence or someone), whilst it is in no way deserving of that moniker, it would be fair to describe it as visually spectacular, the likes of which you really don't see very often. Hopefully Guillermo del Toro can build on the spectacle and offer a much more rewarding script for the sequel.

Or possibly del Toro has registered that "ing" title and that's his key to making 2017s sequel a sure fire hit!!! I'd laugh heartily if that turned out to be true.

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