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What the critics are saying: ‘Pacific Rim’

A scene from 'Pacific Rim.'. Handout

TORONTO — Pacific Rim, the biggest movie ever made in Toronto, is blowing audiences away on big screens with its big robots and big monsters.

Yes, it’s big.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), Pacific Rim is a futuristic epic about humans using machines called Jaegers to fight off monsters that have emerged from the sea to destroy Earth.

Will it be a big hit or a big flop? Here’s a look at what some of the critics are saying:

Calling it “a wonder that makes your eyes pop and jaw drop,” Matt Pais of Red Eye Chicago recommends seeing it “on the biggest screen possible.”

“It’s not often that movies deliver the wow factor of a Jurassic Park, but in its peak moments of ginormous epicness, Pacific Rim does it,” he wrote. “A summer movie season isn’t much without one example of humongous, killer entertainment. Thrilled that it’s here.”

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At the Toronto Star, reviewer Peter Howell called Pacific Rim an “awesome” spectacle.

“You don’t just see and hear these frame-filling behemoths — as they smash and bash each other in coastal cities across the globe — you also feel them,” wrote Howell. “Every thud, pow and bam registers in your bones, thanks to advanced CGI, skilled camera placement and 3D that actually works.”

Howell said the plot is “skeletal ” but the “technical prowess on display can’t help but impress.”

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post was equally entertained.

Pacific Rim is the very rare movie I’d actually recommend seeing in 3-D, because it so effectively immerses the viewer in the action,” he wrote.

A.A. Dowd of the AV Club, though, felt a lot of the action was missed in CGI clutter.

“The big fight scenes are a little hard to follow (especially in 3-D, which only amplifies the murkiness), but they’re playful, with the filmmaker sometimes lingering on a tiny, comical detail, like a flock of blissfully unaware birds,” wrote Dowd.

Scott Mendelson at Forbes seemed to agree. “Too much of the action is shot incredibly close and edited inexplicably tight,” he opined, “rendering a number of major action beats all-but-incomprehensible.”

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Mendelson said too much of the violence in Pacific Rim “is a blur of metal crunching monster skin, with no real sense of what happened until one of the combatants falls down” but said “on the rare occasions when the camera goes wide, the picture is a jaw-dropping marvel to behold.”

His advice to movie-goers:  “If you’re going to see Pacific Rim, see it in IMAX if at all possible.”

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly concurred.

“Del Toro’s monsters are so big, and shot in such unrelenting rainy darkness, that the audience never gets a chance to dissect and fetishize their monstrous anatomies and be swept away by their weirdness,” he wrote. “And if you can’t be transported by a humongous calamari leviathan with suction-cup limbs projectile-vomiting bioluminescent goo, that’s an issue.”

Nashawaty said Pacific Rim feels like “a 48-year-old kid playing with gigantic action figures in the world’s most expensive sandbox.”

He was critical of the “silly” dialogue and numerous clichés in the movie. “In a sense, Pacific Rim winds up being not enough of a Guillermo del Toro movie. It’s more like a mash-up of Real Steel and the Transformers pictures,” wrote Nashawaty. “Which is a shame, because the idea is undeniably cool.”

A.O. Scott at the New York Times said people shouldn’t go into the Pacific Rim expecting subtlety or novelty — only fun.

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Pacific Rim, with its carefree blend of silliness and solemnity, is clearly the product of an ingenious and playful pop sensibility,” wrote Scott.

In his Los Angeles Times review, Kenneth Turan praised the director’s vision and imagination.

“His particular gifts and passions are on display in the long-awaited Pacific Rim,” wrote Turan, “and the results are spectacular.”

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