If this film is Guillermo Del Toro's ode to monsters vs. robots, this is one helluva a film. Del Toro creates an amazing monster movie on a grand scale. Sure, the movie has faults, but when the robots and monsters fight, everything is thrown off the table.
This is a very simple film with complex concepts. These monsters named Kaijus have come from an alternate universe via a portal beneath the Pacific Ocean. Humans have created giant robots called Jaegers to fight these monsters. It takes two people to pilot a Jaeger because they are so large and complex. We meet our protagonist who is played by none other than Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket. He is joined by Rinko Kikuchi, best known for her role in Babel. The almighty Idris Elba and Charlie Day join the team as well.
To tell you the truth, I did not go and see this film for the story. All I wanted to see was giant robots fight giant monsters. Did this happen? Yes. Was it lame? No. This is the summer blockbuster to go see. The only problem I had with the battles were that 95 percent of them took place at night. There are flashbacks and glimpses where we see awesome daytime battles between the robots and monsters, but they last for a minute or less.
One of the great things about the Kaijus and Jaegers are that none of them are similar. The Kaijus are all different and the Jaegers are extremely different. Jaegers were built during different time periods of Kaiju/Jaeger War. They have been developed by the world leaders in fighting off the Kaiju. The Kaiju are different because it'd be boring if they were all the same. Explained in the film; the first Kaiju to enter Earth were like scouts; the weakest of the group. These Kaiju still took days to kill, but they weren't all too powerful against attacks from the newly built Jaegers. As the film progresses, Kaiju, who are harder to kill and seem to have more powers, start popping out of the portal. One can fly, some can swim, some can spit blue plasma/acid at their victims. You think it's all fun and games, but the story is well crafted in Del Toro's mind. Firstly, the Jaegers are a last resort in most of the film. The world has united together to build a wall across the Pacific Ocean to hold off the Kaiju from stepping foot on land or in cities. However, the wall is ineffective. Now, the last remaining Jaegers must fight off a seemingly never-ending invasion of monsters. The Jaegers might be awesome, but we don't really see them all fight 100 percent. Gipsy Danger is the main Jaeger; this behemoth of a machine, nuclear powered, holding a large sword and plasma cannons attached to the palms of its hands. The other Jaegers are either newer versions or very old versions. The newest Jaeger has large missile cannons in its chest while the old Jaeger has a very interesting hydraulic punching fist. There is one Jaeger that has three arms and three buzz saws on each hand. Sadly, we see this Jaeger for two seconds before it's wiped out by the Kaiju. I would have liked to see more battles between the different versions of Jaegers, but they are taken down so quickly by the Kaiju you wonder how the rest will survive. Visually, the Kaiju and Jaeger are perfect. The battle sequences don't over do it and the sequences make you feel small and like a kid again.
After the monsters and robots, the film has a good story. To keep the intensity up and to explain the Kaiju, the story is mostly centered on Charlie Day's scientist character as he tries to get into the mind of a Kaiju, while Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi handle the monsters with robots. When Charlie Day is in the film, the film is funny, but erratic and a bit all over the place. An unexpected role by Ron Perlman, who destroys it as a freaky black market leader who takes apart monsters and sells them to prospective clients, sends this film into more of a strange spiral in story telling. The bones of the story come from the little sparks that we see when Hunnam and Kikuchi take the stage out of their robot bodies. I found it very interesting to watch the connection and chemistry between them, because they worked. But, the story tries to focus on too much. Del Toro wants to tell his story about the Kaiju, and knows that he can't with just the robot v. monster action sequences. He brings in Charlie Day to do just that, while the other characters are put aside for some lengths of the film to focus on how these monsters live, breathe and why they are coming to Earth. Del Toro starts with a great story, but spreads it thin at many times. I felt the urge to go back and see what Hunnam and Kikuchi were up to outside the robots.
At the end of the day, this movie is the perfect summer flick. It has action scenes that aren't too overdone, it has chemistry that works between the characters, and it has a story you can follow. It is funny, sad, scared, exciting, and makes you want to see more. I hope there is a sequel, because there is so much potential for larger scale battles, romance and a bit better story.
Good Qualities: Awesome battles that don't look like Michael Bay directed them. I came in getting the action I wanted.
Bad Qualities: The action would have been a lot more badass during the day (too many nighttime action sequences). Story was spread too thin at some points.