DIRECTOR : Guillermo del Toro
CAST: Charlie Hunnam, IdrisElba, Rinko Kikuch
Kaiju rise from a breach in the bed of the Pacific Ocean and try and annihilate mankind, till humans build Jaegers, piloted by two persons in drift compatibility, to take them on.
That sentence is bound to pique your curiosity, if only to wonder why a summer blockbuster with no pretensions would give itself a Japanese name for monster (Kaiju) and a German name for hunter (Jaeger), for the machines chasing them.
For, despite the length and breadth of the Pacific, this is a largely American-driven exercise with, granted, one Japanese face, several Asian ones and two Russians thrown in.
As can be expected, del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) lays out a visual spread here, not holding back on the size of the Jaegers, the effort it should take to mount them, and the scale of their clashes with the Kaijus.
Cities like Hong Kong are little more than inconsequential battlegrounds here, to be stomped upon, blasted, squashed and bulldozed through, without a look over the shoulder (that image of an oil tanker being dragged through its streets by a Jaeger is particularly delicious).
You hear every sound of the metal clanging against metal, every bit of the vibration on the ground when two things that enormous rush headlong into each other, though no tremors in the voice when they talk of thermonuclear destruction. However, do you ever feel it’s your life that's at stake out there? Not so much.
Humans are peripheral to this special effects extravaganza, to die, grieve and hurt away from the screen. This is despite the masterstroke of having not just one person inside the machines but two, allowing them to be literally at the centre of action and for the robots to have a personality. That personality comprises a bond, literally, of its two co-pilots, who undergo a process of neural exchange to not just know but see each other's minds.
In most cases, that involves siblings. For dramatic purposes though, the couple who are to eventually save the world here (Hunnam and Kikuchi) are naturally squabbling strangers at first. How