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Originally published July 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM | Page modified July 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM

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‘Pacific Rim’: Big stompin’ fun

A movie review of “Pacific Rim,” director Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi epic in which humongous sea monsters battle ginormous robots to the death. This is what summer-event movies are all about: wild action and CGI special-effects overkill.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Pacific Rim,’ with Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, from a screenplay by del Toro and Travis Beacham. 131 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language. Several theaters.

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I've enjoyed several of the films that Guillermo has directed. Pans Labyrinth, Hellboy... MORE


This is it.

This is the Big One. The one with humongous sea monsters battling ginormous robots to the death.

This, after all, is what summer-event movies are all about: wild action and CGI special-effects overkill, in this case courtesy of the tech wizards at Industrial Light and Magic.

Bring it on.

Director Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy”) brings it. He holds nothing back in this sci-fi epic set in the near future where big beasts from the oceans’ depths called Kaiju are romping and stomping across the globe trailing rubble in their wake from Sydney to — gulp! — Seattle and San Francisco, where, yep, the Golden Gate Bridge gets it ... again. (No self-respecting monster epic can leave that iconic span standing.)

Humanity’s hopes to avoid extinction ride on 250-foot-tall metal behemoths called Jaegers, whose job description amounts to “knocking great big monsters dead on their knees.” You know, the old alley-oop treatment.

The battle scenes, mixed-martial-arts-style matches scaled up to enormous dimensions, are kind of dumb but tons — literally — of fun. At this time of year we’re not, after all, expecting Shakespeare. Although in a key scene where Idris Elba rallies his metallic troops to battle, you can detect echoes of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from the Bard’s “Henry V” as he roars, “Today, at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we’ve chosen to believe in each other ... Today we are canceling the Apocalypse!”

Stirring stuff.

The robots are operated by two pilots whose minds are cybernetically melded because the machines are so complicated they fry single, unassisted brains.

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi are the main pilots and the movie’s ostensible stars. But it’s the supporting actors — Elba, as the Jaegers commander; Charlie Day, as a geeky, high-strung expert on Kaiju behavior; and del Toro regular Ron Perlman (“Hellboy’s” main man), as a trafficker in black-market Kaiju body parts — whose idiosyncratic performances give the picture much of its human-scale fizz.

The opening scenes are a little too talky, and some of the talk is hard to decipher, owing to thick accents (Aussie and Japanese especially). Also, del Toro’s penchant for staging his battles at night in the rain make them kind of hard to see. But when he cranks up the action, “Pacific Rim” really delivers the goods.

Godzilla, eat your heart out.

Soren Andersen:

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