Tokusatsu. That's the word the Japanese use to describe a live action series that has lots of special effects in it and are aimed mostly at kids. If you follow things like anime and manga and Japanese series, you will know that tokusatsu is used to describe the Ultraman, Super Sentai (Power Rangers for the uninitiated) and Kamen Rider series.
I am sure most will be familiar with Ultraman. Rubber suit monsters and model city blocks that get destroyed during fights. We know that the monsters are men in rubber suits. We know that those buildings are little more than cardboard models but heck did we have fun with each episode. Boy did we cheer when Ultraman finally gets the upper hand and unleash his famous specium ray to finish off the monster. Yes. Imagination. That's what the tokusatsu series appealed to in the audience. It's like saying : forget about looking real or logic, just enjoy the simple story line, fights and special effects. And it's a testament to the success of that premise when even today kids still cheer for a brand new generation of Ultra heroes.
When I was a kid, I enjoyed the Ultraman series. I looked forward to the Kamen Rider episodes and I drool all over the Veritech fighter/mecha of the Robotech or Macross series. Imagine a jet that could transform into a big robot and fight like it was an infantry unit and was piloted by a human against aliens invaders. Then there was Voltron, the 5 lions that can combine and become one huge badass robot that could kick any monster to kingdom come. You know the monster will meet its doom when the sword came out.
Yup. All those Japanese cartoons and tokusatsu series were part of my childhood. So when Hollywood made a movie called Pacific Rim about giant robots piloted by humans to fight against giant monsters, I just had to go see it. How can I not?
Of course I had my doubts about Hollywood blockbusters that are chock full of SFX. They could bomb hard. Just look at Transformers : Dark of The Moon. Pretty SFX but very boring story.
When it was revealed that the director is Guillermo del Toro, my anticipation for the movie was pushed up a few notches. Heck, I would have gone seen it anyhow but with del Toro at the helm, this could just be a great movie and I was not disappointed.
Pacific Rim is a great watch. It's fun and entertaining. It's tokusatsu Hollywood style and no budget was spared to make it look good. You don't have rubber suit monsters here. Here the monsters looked very real. No cheap city blocks either. San Francisco, Sydney and Hong Kong are attacked and boy did the destruction look real. They even called the monsters 'Kaiju'. That's the Japanese word for 'strange beasts'. What other proof do you need that this is tokusatsu?!
And those mecha! Or Jaegers as they are called here. They rocked! You could feel their immense size, weight and power. And those fight scenes are very nicely choreographed and shot.
Story line was ok. Acceptable. Acting was also acceptable but hey, who watches tokusatsu for their complex plot? Nobody! So go in there like you are going in to watch an episode of Ultraman. You will be blown away by this movie. I guarantee it.
Plot summary : Giant alien monsters appear on earth and attack our cities. Humans build giant robot called Jaegers to fight these monster. What more do you need? It's giant mecha against giant monsters.
Rating : 3.5 stars out of 5