Why Pacific Rim is Compulsively Rewatchable

On the face of it, Pacific Rim contains all of the elements that least appeal to me about a movie. It’s a high-concept, special effects-laden, science fiction blockbuster about giant robots piloted by human beings, defending the planet from monsters originating from the depths of the ocean. Science fiction is a genre that should be a favorite of mine, but Hollywood’s take on the genre is too often driven by style over substance. This is part of the reason why comedy and drama are my favorite genres because I am primarily interested in human beings and relationships. Despite all of this, Pacific Rim is one of the most rewatchable movies I have ever seen.

The reason for this is due mainly to the genius of writer/director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water), who is able to elevate Pacific Rim to something more than the sum of its parts. First and foremost, he is able to convey the size and scale of the monsters, known as Kaiju, in such a way that the audience understands what formidable opponents they are. On a related note, he makes it clear that the human-piloted robots, known as Jaegar, take a considerable amount of effort to control, due to their composition and structure. The result is that the battles between robots and monsters throughout the movie are tense and thrilling, and the audience derives a great deal of satisfaction from the relatively few occasions that a Jaegar manages to vanquish a Kaiju. It is as if the audience is cheering the robots along every step of the way.

Secondly, the special effects are highly visceral. As previously mentioned, the robot-monster battles are often clumsy and chaotic, which greatly enhances their realism. There is also a compelling cyberpunk aesthetic in the scenes that take place in Hong Kong, with neon-lit city streets covered in rain and fog providing the backdrop for the most memorable battle scenes.

Thirdly, the performances by Charlie Hunnam as the legendary pilot who is brought back after suffering personal tragedy, and Rinko Kikuchi, as his inexperienced new co-pilot, are perfectly pitched. There are lighter moments in the narrative, but for the most part, the actors seek to bring as much realism to their roles as possible. The chemistry between them feels unforced and is helped immeasurably by the calm but authoritative presence of Idris Elba, as the general who is in charge of the Jaegar operation.

Fourthly, the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi matches the action and atmosphere perfectly. In particular, the main theme, which features the electrifying guitar skills of Tom Morello, is an inspirational piece that instantly brings to mind heroic pilots gearing up to take on the Kaijus.

In summary, Pacific Rim is one of the most rewatchable movies I have ever seen because the action remains exciting with each viewing, the characters are likeable, and the soundtrack is inspiring. Above all, though, the film focuses on the desire of filmgoers to watch robots battling aliens on a grand scale.


formidable (adjective) – very impressive in size, power, or skill and therefore deserving respect and often difficult to deal with
vanquish (verb) – to defeat someone or something completely
visceral (adjective) – basic emotions that you feel strongly and automatically
authoritative (adjective) – showing that you are used to being obeyed or expect to be obeyed