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PACIFIC RIM
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Max Martini, Ron Perlman
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 131 Minutes
Release Date: October 15, 2013

We can either sit here and do nothing or grab those flare guns and do something really stupid.”

Film ***

Pacific Rim couldn’t have been released at a better time, and for two reasons. First off, it’s extremely refreshing to get a completely original/non-remake/non-sequel/non-reboot release…especially within the action/sci-fi genre. Secondly, with a new Godzilla movie arriving next year (which promises to be nothing short of magnificent), this robots vs. monsters epic courtesy of co-writer and director Guillermo del Toro can serve as the perfect warm up to that release!

We open in the present time, where it is revealed that deep in the Pacific Ocean, a fissure opens which leads to another dimension. Through the fissure emerges a giant monster known as Kaiju, who wreaks extravagant havoc on San Francisco. It is soon destroyed by military forces, and all seems to be well again.

But that’s only the start of it, as more and more Kaiju come through the fissure and the damage escalates even further as cities alongside the pacific are attacked. The military then responds with the creation of The Jaegar Program. Jaegars are gigantic metal machines, and controlled by two pilots, created specifically to take down the Kaiju.

The piloting process for Jaegars is quite unique. In order to control the movement of the machine, the memories of both pilots are linked together in what is called The Drift. This allows their movements to be synchronized as they maneuver these massive steel beasts.

The battle between creature and machine has now lasted twelve years. Seven years into it, ace Jaegar pilot Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) left the program following a battle that resulted in the loss of his older brother and co-pilot. Now a construction worker, Raleigh has helped in the building of a giant wall to keep the Kaiju out.

But Raleigh is soon confronted by Stacker Pentecost (the always dynamic Idris Elba), the head of the Jaegar program, who has arrived at Raleigh’s work site with the sole intention of asking him to return to the Jaegar pilot’s seat. Further Kaiju attacks, as well as several countries calling for the end of the Jaegar program due to increased death of pilots, are why Raleigh is needed now more than ever…so he reluctantly agrees.

Raleigh is then brought to Hong Kong, where a base known as The Shatterdome is located. There, he meets Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) and after challenging her in several training exercises, thinks she’d be perfect for a co-pilot. We are also introduced to a quirky scientist under Stacker’s command; Dr. Geiszler (Charlie Day), who is applying mathematical skills as a way of locating the frequency of Kaiju emerging through the fissure.

Director del Toro has always shown an immense love for whatever genre he tackles, and Pacific Rim is perhaps the best example yet. He clearly loves monster movies, especially Godzilla, and through some truly phenomenal effects work (maybe the best you will see all year), del Toro is able to showcase scenes that will absolutely marvel any and all viewers. If you were a fan of the animated series Voltron or Robotech and dreamed of seeing something similar brought to life on the big screen, believe me when I say this movie is your dream come true!

And in terms of 3D, this represents some of the best work done since the format re-entered the movie culture. Right from the opening frame, del Toro makes grand use of 3D photography to the point where the appearance of a computer hologram screen stuns the visual senses. Like the masterpiece Gravity, this is one movie that you absolutely must experience in 3D if you are able to!

What’s even more fascinating is that if you’ve studied del Toro’s previous films, you notice that he sticks to a color scheme that consists of mainly a slight orange type within mostly darkened settings. And as we all know, 3D has a tendency to make the picture a bit dimmer. But in spite of those factors, del Toro delivers two surprises in this movie: his color scheme is much more extravagant (color wise, it might be the most eye-catching movie we see all year) and he found a way for the 3D to be enjoyed while not having it effect the brightness in the overall picture…very rare!

It may be goofy and occasionally over-plotted, but on a visual scale Pacific Rim is one of the most incredible experiences of the past several years. Only a filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro could whip up a creature vs. robot extravaganza of this size and scope. As far as pure blockbuster entertainment goes, this is one of the best ones you’ll see all year. Strap in!

Video ****

Warner Bros has grown into one of the best 3D Blu-ray producing studios around (see The Great Gatsby and Jack the Giant Slayer for further proof), and this release marks yet another 3 dimensional grand slam. Despite some slight bits of image ghosting (basically every frame has a lot going on), the presentation is one that is thoroughly and literally in your face with monsters, machines, state of the art effects/set designs and, again, an array of colors that will simply leave you awestruck! Like I said earlier, this is a movie that demands to be seen in 3D and the fantastic picture quality alone serves as a great reason to invest in a 3D home theater system.

Audio ****

WB rarely applies a 7.1 DTS mix on their Blu-ray titles, but they were certainly smart to provide one for this release. The result is quite simply one of the best sounding discs ever released…EVER! The movie is loaded with raw and furious sound from beginning to end, most notably in the many creature vs. robot sequences. Dialogue delivery is terrifically crisp and clean, and the music score by Ramin Djawadi is given a most fiery playback! Hands down, the best audio performance of the year so far…and it may be one that’s tough to top!

Features ****

The features lineup is just about as big as the creatures and machines in the movie. This Combo Pack release from WB is equipped with 4 discs (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray 2D, Special Features disc and a bonus DVD copy). The features are spread across the second and third of those.

To start with, we get a commentary with the man himself, Guillermo del Toro, who covers every single possible aspect of the making of the movie during this incredible listen. Also included on the 2D Blu-ray are Focus Points, which are 13 segments adding up to a little over an hour in running time, that cover various angles of the making of the movie, from casting to effects work and so on.

The rest of the extras can be found on the third Special Features disc, starting with “The Director’s Notebook”, which includes additional featurettes, as well as additional interviews, image galleries and note. Next up, we get an extensive look at the visual design, art design and effects work of the film in the featurettes titled “The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim” and “The Shatterdome”. There’s also “Drift Space”, which showcases several scenes from the movie along with character profiles. Lastly, we get some Deleted Scenes and a short but very funny Blooper Reel.

Summary:

Pacific Rim is glorious cinematic eye candy at its very best. With everything from large scale battles to mind blowing visual effects to spectacular 3D work, it’s a pure blast from beginning to end. And if you have a 3D home theater, this 3D Blu-ray from Warner is a tremendous must have!

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