Pacific Rim (PG-13)
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This came out in 2013, but I didn't see it til 2017. The movie begins with narration by the main character, Raleigh Becket, who sets up the plot. He says he was fifteen when a Kaiju (giant beast) first came through an interdimensional breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and began destroying cities. It was eventually defeated, but after subsequent attacks by more Kaiju, it was realized that conventional weapons would be insufficient. So, giant mechas called Jaegers were created to fight the monsters. (So, of course, this movie is reminiscent of various Japanese monster movies, like the Godzilla franchise, as well as any number of giant robot animes. The one that it mainly reminds me of is Evangelion. But whatever similarities the movie has to past fantastical works, it's still fairly original.) After the plot is established, there's a scene in 2020, seven years after the Kaiju threat began. Raleigh and his brother Yancy are now co-pilots of a Jaeger called Gipsy Danger. (Piloting requires a mental link to the Jaeger, which is practically impossible for a single person's brain to handle. So Jaegers are piloted by two- or in one case three- people, who engage in a sort of mind-meld called a "drift" while piloting the mechas.) In one mission, Raleigh and Yancy manage to defeat a Kaiju, but the battle costs Yancy his life.
The movie then flashes forward five years. In the interim, the Jaeger program has been discontinued by the various world governments that funded it, in favor of building a giant wall. Ever since losing his brother, Raleigh has felt unable to pilot Jaegers anymore, anyway. So he's been working construction on the wall. However, his old commander, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) finds him and recruits him to once again pilot Gipsy Danger. The marshal no longer has as many Jaegers at his disposal, since losing his funding, but he and his team are doing their best to continue the fight against the Kaiju. There's one Jaeger piloted by Chinese triplets, one piloted a man and woman from Russia. But none of them are particularly important to the plot. There's also a Jaeger piloted by an Australian father/son team, Herc and Chuck Hansen. They're more important. Meanwhile, the person in charge of restoring Jaegers is a young woman named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, whom I knew from Babel). She wants to become a Jaeger pilot, but Stacker doesn't believe she's ready (and he has a good reason for that). However, Raleigh is more willing to give her a chance, especially after a practice sparring session demonstrates that they'd be compatible for the drift.
Meanwhile, there are some other characters I should mention. Just in passing, I want to mention a technician named Tendo Choi, but... there isn't really anything I can say about him. More importantly, there's a research team consisting of scientists Newton Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman, whom I knew from Torchwood, although while watching the movie I kept thinking "No, surely he's not the guy from Torchwood, so what is it I know him from? But it was Torchwood). Anyway, the two scientists don't get along, and don't really believe in one another's theories. Hermann has a plan for the Jaegers to drop a nuclear bomb into the breach when a Kaiju comes through, which should close the breach and prevent any more Kaiju attacks. But Newton wants to drift with a Kaiju brain, to learn more about the enemy. To that end, Stacker eventually sends Newton to get in touch with a black marketeer named Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), who has provided Stacker with funding in exchange for the rights to harvest the corpses of Kaijus.
Anyway... I guess that's all I want to divulge of the plot. I'll just say there are lots of awesome fights, great special effects, so this is like the coolest giant monster movie I've ever seen. (Not that I've seen all that many.) But more than that, there's also some decent drama on a personal level. And of course, some interesting concepts. I mean, mostly it's a badass sci-fi action movie, but I did think it had a bit more brain and heart than one might normally expect from action movies. (Which I'm sure is thanks in large part to director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro, whom I know best for his work on the Hellboy movies.) There were also some nicely humorous touches. (My favorite involved a Newton's cradle.) And I dunno what else to say, except that I look forward to the sequel....
(Oh, and be sure to wait for the mid-credits bonus scene.)