Pacific Rim

Kaiju is a Japanese word meaning, monster—typically a big monster and a very bad hombre with anger issues. Kaiju are hard to miss, and the founder of the Kaiju feast was, of course, Godzilla the Great.

In Pacific Rim, Kaiju (gesundheit) are popping up all over, emerging from a rift in the ocean floor and stomping all over the biggest cities around the Pacific. To counter the looming apocalypse, mankind has built mechanical monsters of its own, mechas known as Jaegers. Jaeger means hunter in German, but while my first encounter with a Jaeger was a schnitzel, these Jaegers are huge machines, matching the size and strength of the Kaiju. film draws…um…inspiration from a raft of other movies, including the above-mentioned Godzilla, Avatar, Transformers, Iron Man, Cloverfield, Star Trek, and Independence Day. It could have been a mess and comes close to that in the interminable and often hard to follow Kaiju-Jaeger battles. Pacific Rim is hardly Oscar bait, but director Guillermo del Toro’s artistic guidance and attention to detail gives us a movie that’s stylish, inventive, beautifully photographed, well acted by an appealing cast, and fun to watch.

The video here is flawless. While much of the movie takes place at night in the rain, and even completely underwater, the important details consistently punch through the murk. The film was originally shot in 2D, and del Toro reportedly requested a generous 40 weeks to do the 3D conversion right. It paid off with some of the best 3D I’ve seen, making those complex Kaiju-to-Jaeger slugfests easier to follow than in 2D. Even the crucial dark scenes never looked anything but pristine on my JVC projector in 3D, despite that format’s inherent brightness issues.

The audio assaults are paced more intelligently here than in many recent action films (Man of Steel and last year’s The Avengers come immediately to mind). Nevertheless, this is still a loud, dynamic soundtrack. But it’s highly detailed and clean, with plenty of surround activity and subterranean bass. The less than memorable score is also well recorded.

The exceptional lineup of extras includes an audio commentary, multiple making-of featurettes, an artwork gallery, and much more. All of them are in HD and offer an in-depth look into the overall production, the special effects, and the immense amount of work and artistic coordination required to produce such a film.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: Warner Bros., 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 131 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi