This was easily the best movie I watched this summer; granted I only watched 3 but still. I'd say it's the best non-superhero action movie I've watched in years. Sadly it's a failure in America, but I'm sure it'll do better in world markets. The rest of the world is much smarter than us, who prefer to go watch old comedians fall down. You suck, America!
Anyway, what I wish writers of some movies like "Man of Steel" and those Star Trek movies would take note of is the story manages to be effective by keeping things simple and delivering exactly what's expected of it. In this case what you expect is giant robots fighting giant monsters and that's what you get.
There is a prologue relating how the monsters began appearing through a dimensional rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and how giant robots called Jaegers were made to fight them, but it's not so cumbersome as the prologue in "Man of Steel."
Besides the obvious influence of Godzilla and other giant monster movies, much of the story is like a cross of "Independence Day" and "Top Gun." There are the aliens who want to kill us and rape the planet--hey, we were doing that first!--mixed with the story of the formerly cocky pilot who mellows out when his co-pilot (and older brother) dies when they're fighting a monster. He has to get back in the saddle when his former boss shows up and tells him that before the Jaeger program is shut down in favor of a Great Wall, they're going for one big score by dropping a nuke down the hole where the monsters come from.
I was happy about this because I was wondering: why don't they just blow up the freaking hole where the monsters are coming from? It turns out the dimensional rift thingy is like a throat that can seal itself off when it's not in use, which is why previous efforts to destroy it have failed. Anyway, our guy finds his new partner in pretty much the only woman in the whole movie, a girl who survived a monster attack and wants to pay the SOBs back. There's a rival father-son Australian tandem who have a cute bulldog; they must have realized how effective bulldog mascots are! There's a Maverick-Iceman rivalry between the teams only they're fighting for real.
Anyway, if there's one thing wrong with this movie it's that the most epic fight finishes with about 40 minutes left in the movie. The last battle is kind of disappointing because it's underwater and the main Jaeger loses its left arm a minute or two in, which kind of limits what it can do.
Still, as far as sci-fi action movies goes, it hasn't gotten any better than this in a while. As I sort of mentioned earlier there aren't all the annoying plot holes or stupid things that just don't make sense as in other recent blockbuster movies. Things you might question like bombing the rift or why they need two pilots are explained adequately and it doesn't try to throw in any weighty symbolism or any of that. It knows what it is and it delivers.
The only thing it's lacking to be a perfect guy's movie are boobs. We really needed a gratuitous shower scene or something to show chicks in almost nothing, right JJ Abrams?
This would be a perfect movie to watch in real IMAX (the 6-story kind) but I'm bummed to see my local real IMAX theater is not carrying it. Damn, because obviously giant robots and monsters on that huge screen (pretty much life size!) would be epic.
Anyway, forget the lame comedies and superhero movies and go watch this!
My score: 3.5/4 stars