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DVD review: 'Pacific Rim'

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'Pacific Rim'

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Every now and then, audiences need an excuse to pile into the theater on a hot summer day to cool off and to escape the worries of everyday life.

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That's exactly where a dumb, expensive, unrealistic action movie comes into play.

Enter: 'Pacific Rim'.

In 2013, Earth was attacked by giant monsters called Kaijus who emerge from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean (I guess not...). The people of Earth craft equally giant human-controlled robots called Jaegers. After battling the Kaijus back, all is silent for some time.

Cut to 2025. The Jaeger program is about to be shut down because there is no further need for them and a giant wall will be sufficient. One day, this is proven to not be good enough as the Kaijus return, badder than ever.

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is brought out of a self-imposed retirement initiated by the death of his brother in action. The Jaeger program is currently being helmed by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinski), a hotshot on the team, doesn't take kindly to Raleigh's presence and makes it known. Chuck's father, Herc (Max Martini) is a bit more supportive. Also floating around is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) an administrator of the project who has always had ambitions to be a pilot.

These Kaiju aren't just being tackled with force. Taking a scientific approach is scientist Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). He just might be onto something with his attempts to form a mental connection with the Kaiju.

Right off the bat, anyone out there who is familiar with anime will recognize the similarities this has to 'Evangelion'. Combine that with old 'Godzilla' films and you have a good idea what to expect: Big creatures destroying Los Angeles as they battle using some cool abilities and attacks. Technology makes this experience completely different than it would have been years ago. This looks good.

Del Toro's early works like 'Cronos' and 'The Devil's Backbone' demonstrated visual flair without completely breaking the bank. He gradually worked his way up the studio ladder, hitting his critical peak with 'Pan's Labyrinth.' The 'Hellboy' movies were fine but 'Pacific Rim' is by the largest project the director has handled. He is certainly up to the task.

Appropriately enough for a big-budget popcorn, action flick, the structure and the plot points are rather by-the-book. Anyone who has seen at least a few of these will be able to predict what happens especially in/by the final third of the story. That's not such a big deal as the spectacle of this is really the point. The battle sequences carry the day as they should.

Hunnam has zero charisma as the lead which is kind of a problem. The same could be said of Kazinsky as his rival and to a much lesser extent, Martini who starts off as a strong character, but is eventually left with nothing to do. Elba carries the film with the convincing stoic strength he exudes. Kikuchi’s Rei has a vulnerable exterior and bears a striking resemblance to 'Evangelion's' Rei character. Day is alright though it's sometimes difficult to separate him from his character in 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' Instead of squirrelly and dumb, he is intelligent, but jittery and neurotic. It's a somewhat similar kind of manic energy for the same sake of comedy. Ron Perlman really chews the scenery as a shady character.

Special features include: commentary, a look at the digital design of the film, deleted scenes, a blooper reel and other featurettes from behind the scenes.

Along with some of those Marvel superhero movies, 'Pacific Rim' is one of the best ridiculous, summer action films of the last few years.

Rated PG-13 132 minutes 2013

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