Director Guillermo Del Toro is a big fan of robots or more correctly Jaegers, colossal metal beings controlled by two pilots within the machine itself, locked in a “neural bridge”.
The Jaeger program was created in response to the arrival of Kaiju, gigantic sea monsters popping out of fissures in the ocean at regular intervals. Kaiju are bad, very bad, Godzilla on super steroids with added attitude, they will ruin everyone’s day unless they can be stopped.
Earth is not doing so well, Kaiju are winning more often than not and the Jaeger program is losing favour and political backing, with crews being killed and robots destroyed.
Humanity decides that building walls to keep the invaders out is better option, which seems odd bearing in mind the ease with which walls seem to get breached.
No matter, we get to meet Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Haufman), a washed up ex-pilot who lost his older brother in battle, despite their celebrity status during the good old days, when the war was going humanity’s way.
Of course, following the requisite “Earth needs you” speech from the commanding officer (Idris Elba), we are back in business. This time with rookie pilot Mako Mori (Kikuchi), whose only qualification appears to be appealing to particular demographic and loyal Asian fan base. Local dialogue, with English subtitles indicates the contribution overseas box office now represents. We also have a nod to China, Russia and Australia to cover all the bases, no pun intended.
Various obstacles are thrown in the new teams path, before they are allowed to go into battle and there are very few surprises worked into the formulaic screenplay. Throw in a couple of scientists attempting to mind meld with the Kaiju and a barely bothering to act Ron Perlman as a bizarre collector of Kaiju parts and you realise the train marked reality left some time ago.
So with only Elba troubling the “A-List” star wattage meter and with a story cobbled together from a thousand fevered Manga and Anime dreams, the special effects needed to be top notch.
Here the film does not disappoint, making “Transformers” look like the toys they really are and with a scale that is simply breathtaking. Building size robots dragging cargo ships to use as clubs to beat the oversized lizards into submission.
Subtle, the film is not.
Is it fun, to a point yes. If the subject matter interests you, then there is plenty of spectacle here and the CGI is state of the art. Dialogue is risible, apart from one line which is likely to bring more giggles than any patriotic response.
Add an extra star if you are under 30, have enjoyed alcohol and are watching with friends.
Provided you are looking for a movie where giant robots and sea monsters engage in WWF smackdown bouts, there is much to enjoy.
If you are looking for depth, story and believable human interaction, then move swiftly along.