There may be those of you who think that because this is directed by Guillermo del Toro and has had some positive reviews, it is something other than Transformers on steroids. But that’s exactly what it is.
Which is a shame, because the world doesn’t need yet another CGI-heavy film about large metal creatures saving the world from alien monsters. I’m not quite sure what it is that makes so many critics so keen on this clanking clunky sprawl of a movie, but here is what passes for a plot.
We start with an introduction. Back in 2013, giant lizard-like monsters start emerging from a crack in the ocean bed, and attack cities like San Francisco, Singapore and Manila. Jet fighters and tanks are of no use, so humans start to collaborate to build their own weapons, which are fifty foot high Jaegers (German for hunters) who fight the Kaiju (the monsters), occasionally succeeding in killing them. Our hero, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is part of a team of two who control a Jaeger, along with his brother. The Jaegers have to be controlled by two people, who are in perfect harmony. But his brother gets killed, and Raleigh goes off to help build the wall that is surrounding the coastline as a supposedly better alternative to hunting the monsters down.
But then his old boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) appears, demanding that he comes back to work as a Jaeger-driver, only this time his partner is going to be a young Japanese woman called Mako, who was traumatised by a Kaiju when she was young. There is some rather artificial alpha-male tension between Raleigh and another pilot/driver a la Top Gun; there are also a couple of humorous aka annoying scientists who seem to have emerged from a different film, although in theory, their willingness to blend minds with a dead kaiju sprog, means that they uncover the secret that saves everybody. But frankly, who cares?
This is the fundamental flaw in all these top heavy, budget-bloated way-too-long summer blockbuster bores. There’s nothing and no one to care about The monsters always get beaten in the end, despite having an obvious superiority in size and strength. the humans have no discernible character and the plot has no originality. The music is ham-fisted, the film goes on too long, and it follows a tediously predictable arc which resembles every other film of this ilk.
So, yes, if you like this kind of thing, by all means go and see it. You will be stepping in the footsteps of a hundred similar films, but that may be why you want to see it. For anyone else, don’t bother. Don’t be fooled by the hype.