Short summary: a portal to an alien world opens under the ocean and giant monsters come out. The governments of the world team up to battle them, eventually doing so with Jaegers, huge robots piloted by two psychically linked pilots who must act in tandem to control their war machines. For a while this goes swimmingly, but the money dries up and the monsters keep coming, and soon the fate of the world rests on crusty and intensely likeable Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who runs the world's last 4 jaegers in an endless war against the monsters out of Hong Kong. Pentacost has a plan to destroy the portal that brings the monsters to earth but to do that he recruits emotionally scarred Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) who must copilot with the impetuous and vengeful Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) for one last big mission. Cue a ton of fighting and explosions.
This film showcases a lot of newcomer actors to great effect. The burgeoning friendship between Mori and Becket is particularly well done (it is best described as a guy-girl bromance really) and the rest of the cast does science, runs from monsters, or is Ron Perlman (yes that's a role now) very effectively. Idris Elba gets to play to his strengths very well here and chew a lot of scenery as an AGING HERO with SAD SECRETS, and lest you think that del Toro will craft a strong black lead then stick him in an office like every other director, rest assured that Pentacost punches monsters in a big robot too.
Of course the fights are the meat of the film and they do not disappoint. The robots and monsters convey a powerful sense of size and weight, as their enormous fists, tails, and jaws gnash and hit with weight and authority. Fights are almost wholly digital affairs and perhaps to save money they are usually in rainy darkness, but they are still exciting and tense. The multi-stage throwdown in Hong Kong at the film's peak is one of the best giant monster battles ever committed to film and I say that as a die-hard Godzilla fan.
Some critics have panned this film for a lack of depth, but the truth is that it does what it wants to- deliver a summer blockbuster- and it does so with unprecedented depth. Its writing, performances, and effects easily put it on par with The Avengers as a smart summer action romp, and to disrespect this film because it's not another Pan's Labyrinth is sort of like saying a really good ice cream sundae is undeserving of your time because it's not a baked Alaska. Lest we overlook it too, Rim is also an ORIGINAL film in an industry plagued by remakes, sequels, and general unoriginality. You don't have to buy it (although I would) but you should absolutely see it in theaters or rent it at least once. Don't miss out.
-Endearing performances from a young cast (with help from some veterans)
-Way, way better than Cloverfield
-Blends Artsy del Toro's flair for eerie creatures and dream imagery with comic geek del Toro's love of SMASH POW BAM
-Effective ear bug soundtrack will stick with you
-Really good 3D if that's your thing
-Some of the other Jaeger crews are not very well developed
-The very beginning crams a lot of exposition in pretty fast
So I received and watched the disk. The standard version of Rim comes in a handsome slipcase with a fun holographic cover that APPEARS to be removable (although a true collector won't want to of course...). The BD itself is easily navigable and all trailers are skippable. There is a whole other disk of special features which I have not yet watched. Overall this feels very premium, more like a collector's edition than a basic retail set. The case doesn't even have cutouts to save material as many BD cases do nowadays.
Picture quality is outstanding overall. On the small screen, and without the slight softening effect of 3D, this actually reveals some sort of cheap-looking CGI in the first Kaiju encounter during the opening narration*. Thankfully, subsequent battles look great. The movie is free from excessive cleanup and boasts the odd bit of grain, making it look very filmic and natural, even when big monsters and big robots are clubbing one another with bits of dockyard.
Audio is suitably bombastic and rich, with voices, music, and effects all mixed to a consistent, listenable volume range (I'm looking at you, first two Iron Man films on home video).
Overall this is a great Blu Ray and watching it at home the film held up to my initial high opinion.
* This is probably because much of this sequence was produced long before editing of the remainder of the film was completed.