Starting in 2008, James Rolfe, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd, whom I've been a big fan of ever since I discovered him, began producing videos for Spike.com, doing both movies reviews for them and reporting on the annual San Diego Comic Con. It was in one of these latter series of videos, quite possibly in 2012, that I first heard of Pacific Rim, which Rolfe said that Guillermo del Toro simply described as, "Giant fucking monsters fighting giant fucking robots." Needless to say, I was intrigued, given my love for the genre. I didn't have much to go on from that statement but I was still interested, particularly given how the genre of giant monster movies seemed to be slowly but surely gaining popularity again since the release of Cloverfield and, to a lesser extent, The Mist, as well as due to the upcoming Legendary Pictures Godzilla film. By the time it was released in July of 2013, I was ready to see it, not only because the trailer, which I saw before Man of Steel the month before, looked really cool and, given what I heard about it, it was meant to be del Toro's personal love letter to the Japanese giant monster genre, but also because, after a trying first half of the year that culminated in a death in the family, I needed a little bit of escapism. I actually didn't see it until maybe a month after its release, catching it at a fairly late showing one Saturday night at a theater in Chattanooga with my mom, and at that point, I had read snippets of reviews that said the characters were a tad two-dimensional and the emotions the film was trying to go for on the shallow side, both points which I couldn't deny after we came out of the theater... but it didn't matter. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was nothing more than a bigger-than-life, colorful, entertaining romp that, despite its flaws, had its heart firmly in the right place, a notion that was confirmed to me at the end of the closing credits when I saw that it was dedicated to both Ray Harryhausen, who'd recently passed away, and master Japanese kaiju director, Ishiro Honda (by this point, you should know that I have a lot of respect for that man). Looking at it now, my opinion hasn't changed and I can easily compare it to one of the most beloved kaiju films, The War of the Gargantuas, by saying that it may not succeed at everything it sets out to do but what it does well, it does really well.
In 2013, an inter-dimensional fissure opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and an enormous monster emerges from it. The creature lays waste to San Francisco before it is eventually taken down by the American military days later, but this turns out to not be an isolated incident, as more monsters, dubbed "Kaiju," follow, making their way through the "Breach," as it's known, and attacking coastal cities. With no end to the onslaught in sight, the countries of the world unite to combat the Kaiju, developing the Jaeger Program: a series of giant robots controlled by two pilots who are neurally linked together. The Jaegers manage to turn the tides in humanity's favor, taking down one Kaiju after another, and the pilots themselves become celebrities, while the Jaegers and even the Kaiju become marketable commodities. However, things change in 2020, when two of the most skilled pilots, brothers Raleigh and Yancy Becket, take on a Kaiju threatening Anchorage, Alaska. Disobeying orders, they engage the Kaiju in order to save a fishing boat and the creature, the most powerful one yet, badly damages their Jaeger, Gypsy Danger, and kills Yancy. Raleigh manages to defeat the Kaiju by himself and get the Jaeger to shore, but he quits the program afterward. Five years later, the program is due to be shut down because of the number of casualties caused by the increasingly powerful Kaiju and focus is put on building huge, coastal walls to keep the monsters out. Raleigh, traumatized and unable to forget his brother's death, as they were still connected when it happened, finds work at the wall near Sitka, Alaska, where his former commanding officer, Marshall Stacker Pentecost, tracks him down and persuades him to rejoin the Jaeger program, which has been relocated to Hong Kong. Despite the fact that all funding for the program is to end in eight months, Pentecost plans to use the remaining Jaegers to destroy the Breach and prevent any further Kaiju from coming through. Raleigh is to run defense for the intended bomber Jaeger but needs to find a new copilot who is "drift compatible" with him. It quickly becomes apparent that Mako Mori, a young Japanese woman who Pentecost has taken under his wing, is the most promising candidate but Pentecost refuses for reasons that are only gradually revealed. However, time is running out, as more powerful Kaiju continue to come through in order to destroy humanity so their otherworldly creators can take over, and there may also be a fatal flaw in Pentecost's plan that he's unaware of.
Whether they've been made in Japan or America, monster movies have never been known for having compelling or involving characters, as they're often depicted as a means to spout exposition and to either get caught up in the monsters' rampage, battle them, or try to find a way to defeat them and, as much as it tries to be deeper and more sophisticated than the films that inspired it, Pacific Rim isn't much different. It runs into some of the same problems that Gareth Edwards did in both Monsters and Godzilla in that it tries to make its human cast three-dimensional, with real emotional issues, but we often only get into the very bare minimum of those issues and a lot of the actors aren't strong enough to make their roles engaging with what little they're given. That's definitely true in the case of our lead, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who starts out as a very gun-ho, hotshot Jaeger pilot who's all about kicking some Kaiju ass with his brother, Yancy, often at the expense of their orders. However, doing so during their encounter with the Kaiju called "Knifehead" results in Yancy's death and leaves Raleigh emotionally scarred, not just because he lost his brother but because the two of them were still neurally connected in the Jaeger when it happened, meaning that the emotions that Yancy felt in his last moments still reside within Raleigh's subconscious. Not wanting to go through that again, Raleigh finds work in construction on one of the coastal walls being built to keep the Kaiju out and is initially reluctant to rejoin the Jaeger program, only doing so when Marshall Pentecost asks where he'd rather be if the Kaiju wipe out mankind. Because of the loss of his brother, Raleigh has to find a new copilot who's "drift compatible" with him, and he soon realizes that he and Mako Mori have that kind of special connection, which is only deepened when he learns that she suffered a great loss herself when she was a young girl.
Unfortunately, despite all of that emotional baggage and potential, Raleigh can hardly be called a compelling protagonist. It's not Hunnam's fault, though; his performance is a little bland but he has a fair amount of charisma that keeps him going. The problem is that, while it's not hard to figure out that Raleigh has been suffering for the past five years because of what happened to Yancy, we don't get to truly experience it, save for a few, fleeting moments, like when he tells Pentecost that he can't go through what he did again (and yet, it doesn't take much for Pentecost to convince Raleigh to come back to the Jaeger program), when he talks to Mako about how he's trying to live with the consequences of the decisions he once made as a Jaeger pilot, when the two of them attempt to Drift and Yancy's memories cause problems for the both of them (again, very fleeting), and he talks to her afterward about how hard it is to find someone else to let in through the Drift. That is not nearly enough substance to make me want to see Raleigh pick himself back up after what happened to him and, therefore, during the battles with the Kaiju, particularly during the climax when he seems willing to sacrifice himself in order to close up the Breach, I don't particularly care. Really, the only sense of Raleigh's character that I get, other than he's a pretty decent guy, is that he's very skilled, both in piloting Jaegers and in hand-to-hand combat, as he easily trounces the possible candidates for his copilot before Mako steps in. His decency, like when he stands up for Mako against Chuck Hansen, is enough to make him likable, but at the end of the day, I still don't care about what happens to him.
Despite this potent cocktail of emotion, which includes a desire for revenge against the Kaiju that destroyed her life, I ultimately care even less about what happens to Mako or her bond with Raleigh. In this case, I have to put the blame for this on the shoulders of the actor. We do see and feel the terror and despair Mako experienced as a little girl, as she's shown wandering the streets of the destroyed Tokyo, crying her eyes out while carrying one of her pretty little dress shoes in her hand, and is then chased by the Kaiju, which comes close to killing her, but as an adult, she comes across as not only bland but downright wooden. Like Raleigh, we're told that she has a desire for revenge and is traumatized by what happened, but other than that moment in the Drift, we don't get nearly enough of a sense of it to care, with our only other hints of it being instances of her saying that she wants revenge and her shouting, "For my family!" in Japanese when she deals the killing blow to one of the Kaiju that attacks Hong Kong. As for the father-daughter dynamic between her and Pentecost, it's even more rudimentary, with just the tiniest of hints, mainly before the climax when Pentecost tells her that he was lucky to watch her grow into the woman she is now and before his death when he tells her that she can always find him in the Drift. And when it comes to her relationship with Raleigh, even if it had become a full-blown romance (which it doesn't), I still would have been like, "Whatever," at the end of the movie. The only really good thing I can say about Mako is that it's nice they didn't overly sexualize her, which they could have easily done, especially given the trend of doing so in anime. In fact, between the two of them, Raleigh is the one who's sexualized, with how taken Mako is with his athletic build, looking through her door's peephole at him.
Above all that, though, Pentecost is a badass. Back when he was a Jaeger pilot, he not only saved Mako from the Kaiju that killed her parents but he managed to do so while piloting his Jaeger all by himself, which is almost impossible to do because of the stress operating such a huge machine puts on one person (the only other person who's ever been able to do this is Raleigh). As a commanding officer, he's very strong and combat pragmatic, dishing out orders like a real boss and coming across as somebody who you would definitely fall in line with and would want to please. When the world leaders tell him that they're eventually going to shut down the Jaeger program, Pentecost has no intention of rolling over and taking it, proclaiming, "We don't need them," and uses the remaining time that he has to come up with a plan to destroy the Breach and gather together the equipment and personnel to make it work. He knows how to give a motivational speech, too, as he tells Raleigh when he initially declines his offer, "Haven't you heard, Mr. Beckett? The world is coming to an end. So where would you rather die? Here?! Or in a Jaeger?!" However, that's only a prelude to the one he gives before he heads into the final battle: "Today. Today... at the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we have chosen not only to believe in ourselves, but in each other. Today, there is not a man nor woman in here that shall stand alone. Not today. Today, we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them! Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!" With that, as far as I'm concerned, President Whitmore from Independence Day can eat his heart out. On top of everything else, you learn that Pentecost is slowly dying from radiation poisoning that he received from piloting the un-shielded first generation Jaegers, a revelation that was hinted at by moments of him swallowing pills and his nose bleeding. Knowing that getting into the cockpit of a Jaeger again means certain death for him, Pentecost decides to do so when Hercules Hansen is injured and unable to pilot the Jaeger carrying the payload to the Breach with his son, a possible suicide mission regardless. Ultimately, they end up not being the ones that have to destroy the Breach but they sacrifice themselves to enable Raleigh and Mako to do so, with Pentecost's last words to Mako being, "You can always find me in the Drift."
The comic relief of the film is handled by the Jaeger program's scientific advisors, Dr. Newton "Newt" Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). I know some people find these guys to be overly caricatured and annoying but they've never bugged me personally (plus, one of them has the first name of a friend of mine, so I can't bring myself to hate on him). Their dynamic is clear from the get-go: Geiszler is very energetic and child-like of the two, completed infatuated with the Kaiju to the point where he has tattoos of them all over his arms and examines what remains of them, while Gottlieb is more modest, reserved, and practical, using mathematics to try to predict the frequency with which the Kaiju will begin emerging from the Breach. It's also not surprising that their differing personalities put them into conflict with each other, as Geiszler feels that Gottlieb is too detached and that there's more to the Kaiju that they don't know, having several theories about their nature and origin, while Gottlieb sees him as a little more than a groupie and far too rash, especially in his desire to drift with a Kaiju's secondary brain. Being confident in his theories and feeling that fortune favors the brave, Geiszler goes against Pentecost's orders and drifts with a secondary brain he has in the lab, which does almost kill him but enables him to learn that the Kaiju are created by beings from another dimension and that they're being used to eliminate humanity for them. Needing more information, Pentecost sends Geiszler to Hong Kong to meet with Kaiju black market dealer, Hannibal Chau, to get another secondary brain and has to endure Chau's untrustworthy, potentially homicidal personality and being sent to a civilian bunker when the city is attacked (which is Geiszler's fault, as the Kaiju have a hive mentality and those on the other side are aware of what he's done). He comes through it all unscathed, though, declaring to Chau, "Guess who's back, you one-eyed bitch!", and joins him in extracting the secondary brain from the dead Kaiju, only to nearly be killed when said Kaiju's unborn baby bursts out and attacks.
When Gottlieb arrives with the equipment necessary for the Drift with the baby's brain, he decides to do it with Geiszler so they can share the neural load and the two of them have this memorable exchange: "Then say it with me, my man: 'We're gonna own this bad boy!'" "By Jove, we are going to own this thing for sure!" As punishing as the experience proves to be for both of them, with Gottlieb throwing up afterward (fortunately for him, there was a discarded toilet in the landfill where this took place), they also learn a vital piece of information: Pentecost's plan, as it is, isn't going to work. They rush back to the base once the final mission has begun and quickly inform the Jaeger pilots that the Breach will only allow Kaiju through, which leads to Raleigh and Mako having to grab onto a gigantic, Category 5 Kaiju and ride it back through the Breach to destroy it. Once everything's worked out for the best and Raleigh and Mako make it out alive, Geiszler and Gottlieb are last seen sharing a friendly embrace.
One character who's definitely not meant to be anything other than just plain cool and succeeds with flying colors is Hannibal Chau, the Kaiju black market dealer who Pentecost sends Dr. Geiszler to meet with. Seriously, it's Ron Perlman as a sinister, untrustworthy, and downright dangerous black marketeer, one who's dressed in a garish red suit with a bright yellow tie, has dark goggles on his head, gold teeth, gold shoes, uses a big switchblade as a weapon, and is named Hannibal, which he takes from the historical figure (and his last name comes from his second favorite Szechuan restaurant in Brooklyn). Need I say more? He just carries himself as a really intimidating guy who could gut you like a fish with that knife without giving it a second thought. Aside from his name being fake, you come to know very little about him. His only interest in the Kaiju comes down to what their body parts are worth on the market and, despite his arrangement with Pentecost that gives him exclusive access to all Kaiju parts in exchange for funding the program, he's not somebody who you can trust just because you know the marshal (as Pentecost himself warns Geiszler, hinting at a history between them). When two Kaiju are sighted approaching Hong Kong, Chau throws Geiszler out into the street, forcing him to go to a civilian bunker, as he feels that the monsters are looking for him since they probably know that he drifted with the secondary brain (Chau shows him the end result of what happened when he had to do, taking off the goggles to reveal a scar down his left eye), while he himself waits out the battle in his own private one. But, when Geiszler survives the attack, Chau does uphold the deal they made and works to get him the dead Kaiju's secondary brain. He's seemingly killed when the Kaiju's baby swallows him whole, after he boasted for a bit that he could tell with one look he wouldn't survive long outside the womb (instead of making him look incompetent, it kind of makes him more awesome), but in the middle of the ending credits, you see him cut his way out of the carcass, looking for one of his shoes. He was definitely too cool to be killed off like that.
Of the three other Jaegers that are still functioning, the Australian one, named Striker Eureka, is piloted by the father and son team of Hercules "Herc" Hansen (Max Martini) and Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky). Herc also acts as something of Marshal Pentecost's second-in-command and is a tough-as-nails but respectable man, having a lot of admiration for Raleigh for his talent and when, he first arrives at Shatterdome (the Hong Kong base), he tells him that he's sorry about what happened to Yancy. Chuck, on the other hand, is a talented but arrogant jackass who sees his father, whom he calls "old man," as more his copilot than the other way around, tells Raleigh right off the bat that he thinks he's a hasbeen and dead weight, and has zero respect for Mako, especially after she nearly fires Gypsy Danger's plasma cannon in the base when her and Raleigh's trial run goes south. This leads to a confrontation between him and Pentecost, whom he angrily tells he doesn't want Raleigh defending him during the upcoming mission, and a full-on fight between him and Raleigh when he insults Mako. When he and his father are tasked with protecting Hong Kong they, like Raleigh and Yancy before them, disobey orders to help the other two Jaegers during their battle with the Kaiju and Striker Eureka gets disabled when one of the monsters lets out a powerful EMP blast. Chuck is intent upon abandoning the Jaeger but Herc isn't having it, saying that they are going to continue protecting Hong Kong no matter what, going as far as to go outside on the Jaeger and use flares to distract the Kaiju. Fortunately for them, Gypsy Danger comes to the rescue, and when they get back to Shatterdome, Herc tells Raleigh that, even though he wouldn't admit, Chuck is just as grateful as he is (Chuck does give Raleigh a knowing nod, though). Due to an injury to his arm, Herc is unable to pilot Striker Eureka during the mission to destroy the Breach and Pentecost has to take his place, with Herc now acting as mission director. Before the mission begins, father and son share an emotional goodbye, since Pentecost and Chuck likely won't be returning (something that Chuck has now accepted), with Herc telling him, "When you Drift with someone, you feel like there's nothing to talk about. I just don't wanna regret all the things that I never said," and Chuck responding, "You don't need to. I know. I always have." Sure enough, Chuck and Pentecost do end up sacrificing themselves to clear a path to the Breach for Gypsy Danger, with Herc having to choke back his tears and keep the mission running. When it's all over and the Breach has been sealed, Herc triumphantly tells everyone to stop the "war clock" that's been using to foretell the frequency of Kaiju attacks.
Among the supporting cast, other noteworthy characters include Tendo Choi (Clifton Collins Jr.), the head technician in the operation of the Jaegers who sits at the command deck with Marshal Pentecost, monitoring what's going on with the robots, keeping an eye on the readout that shows the vital signs of the Kaiju, and the like. He's also notable as being a close friend of Raleigh, as well as something of a playboy, given an exchange between him and Becket brothers during the opening. While he's only in that opening, Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff), Raleigh's older brother, is significant in that the bond he has with Raleigh enable the two of them to battle Kaiju as well as they do, leading to them becoming something along the lines of rock stars, and his death causes a lot of turmoil for his younger brother, especially since they're still in the Drift when he gets killed. Obviously, Yancy doesn't get much development in the short amount of screentime he has, but he does come across as a little more reserved than Raleigh, telling him not to get cocky before they head off into battle, and they both share a strong sense of morality, disobeying Pentecost's orders to rescue a fishing boat being threatened by the Kaiju. Among the Jaegers under Pentecost's control, there are two others aside from Gypsy Danger and Striker Eureka: the Chinese one, piloted by the Wei Tang triples (Charles, Lance, and Mark Luu), and a Russian one, piloted by Sasha (Robert Maillet) and Aleksis Kaidanovsky (Heather Doerksen), both of whom attempt to stave off the oncoming Kaiju attack on Hong Kong, but despite their individual talents, end up getting killed in the process. Finally, I have to mention Larry Joe Campbell, whom I know because my mom often watched According to Jim back in the day, who appears briefly as a construction worker on the same Alaskan coastal wall that Raleigh briefly works at.
In spite of the emotional depths and scars he tries to give the characters, Guillermo del Toro specifically went for an overall light tone for Pacific Rim, akin to what many of the movies made during the Golden Age of the kaiju genre in the 60's went for. In an interview with shocktillyoudrop.com, he said, "I don't want people being crushed. I want the joy that I used to get seeing Godzilla toss a tank without having to think there are guys in the tank. What I think is you could do nothing but echo the moment you're in. There is a global anxiety about how fragile the status quo is and the safety of citizens, but in my mind, honestly, this film is in another realm. There is no correlation to the real world... In my case, I'm picking up a tradition. One that started right after World War II and was a coping mechanism, in a way, for Japan to heal the wounds of that war. And it's integral for a Kaiju to rampage in the city." For my money, del Toro does succeed in what he set out to do, as the battles between the Jaegers and the Kaiju come across as thrilling and exciting than anything else and, while possibly sitting in the back of your mind, the idea of hundreds of people, both civilian and militant, dying from being caught up in the battles doesn't come across blatantly (save for Mako's memories of what happened to her when she was a child), as was the case in the kaiju movies of yesteryear. This intended detachment from the harsh realities of the real world comes from our being shown the evacuation of big cities in the face of a sudden, oncoming attack, which was also a major trope of the genre but was proven hopelessly naive and simplistic in the face of 9/11. In fact, while the film's story is about preventing an apocalypse that's now closer than ever to happening, the tone, never becomes extremely grim and dark. Rather, while things do get serious at points, it's always clear that this is meant to be nothing more than a bigger-than-life, escapist fantasy.
Being someone who's very pacifistic, del Toro also wanted to go for a notion of people from all walks of life, be it race, gender, or personality, coming together and cooperating for the greater good. In the broader sense of things, you have that notion during the prologue of all the world's countries putting aside any and all conflicts in order to combat the Kaiju threat and also how the Jaeger program comes to be made up of people who are as different from one another as possible at the base of Shatterdome. In spite of the conflicts that may arise between them, such as between Raleigh and Chuck Hansen, Raleigh and Pentecost over Mako, and the disdain the other pilots come to feel for Raleigh and Mako after the potentially fatal failed test of their Drift compatibility, when they all work together, they ultimately come out on top, despite the losses they suffer. In a metaphorical sense, according to del Toro, it's also reflected in the concept of the pilots' controlling their Jaegers by becoming neurally connected and, in the process, learning of each other's deepest, most intimate thoughts and memories, which they must accept in order to make it work. In another interview, this time with bostonglobe.com, del Toro laid it all out by stating, "The pilots' smaller stories actually make a bigger point, which is that we're all together in the same robot [in life]… Either we get along or we die... The idea of the movie is just for us to trust each other, to cross over barriers of color, sex, beliefs, whatever, and just stick together." While I do think some of the film's intended deeper aspects could have been done better (i.e. how the Drift allows Raleigh and Mako to come together in a more intimate example of this overall theme), I do think this idea, despite seeming naive to the more cynical, does have some merit and you do get something of a sense of it when you watch the film.
It goes without saying that the scale of Pacific Rim is absolutely enormous and even though a good 65% of it takes place indoors, those environments still manage to reflect this bigger-than-life feel. Chief among them are the advanced command decks where Pentecost and his crew oversee the missions the Jaegers are sent out on, the Jaegers' cockpits, the big construction site of the Alaskan coastal wall (that concept alone lets you know that this is not a small movie by any means), and, of course, Shatterdome, the base in Hong Kong where the Jaeger program is moved to during its last days. The large size of the latter's exterior, with the landing pad out in front, is only a prelude to the interior, the main section of which is an enormous hangar, massive both in height and length, where the Jaegers are kept, and it also contains a fairly big dining hall, large, freight elevators, a laboratory filled with equipment and a gigantic chalkboard with rolling sections, and a big office/quarters room for Pentecost, with water flowing underneath the floor, a small walkway over it, and a big window at the opposite end of the room. While the section where Raleigh has trial fights with his possible copilot candidates and his and the others' rooms are a little on the small side, the rundown, industrial feel to them, complete with doors that are more like hatches, help to make them blend in with the base's other, more colossal aspects. As for the command decks that Pentecost oversees, both in Anchorage and in Hong Kong, their fairly small size is made dynamic by the advanced screens and digital readouts they're filled with and how they look out onto the hangars where the Jaegers are kept. The Jaeger cockpits, despite their somewhat intimate nature, are amazing to look at simply because of how the pilots control them while standing up in this space about the size of a small room in a house, surrounded by all those digital readouts, and while wearing those suits of theirs (which I'll get into later). There's even a scene that takes place inside a dead Kaiju, which is a big, gooey, deep blue-colored cavern! And I think the Alaskan wall's construction site speaks for itself in terms of its scale, as everyone is dwarfed by it, including Raleigh and Pentecost during their first meeting following the prologue.
Of course, the exterior sequences are just as amazing to behold as the already-impressive interiors, chief among them Hong Kong, which is presented as a crowded, rain-drenched city, with lots of colorful, neon lights everywhere, archways and exterior corridors, levels to it that extend upwards, a grimy landfill where the fallen Kaiju known as Otachi's body is harvested for the black market, and seedy shops in the city that cater to that illegal business. (I don't know if this is what Hong Kong actually looks like in reality but, when I see this city, with the rain and neon, I can't help but think of a less oppressive version of Los Angeles in Blade Runner.) One of the stores is a front for Hannibal Chau's hideout, which is a large, oriental-styled, circular room that has a gold and reddish brown color scheme to match his outfit, is full of Kaiju parts that are kept in storage chambers, including their skin parasites, and has a balcony that looks out over the city, as well as a private bunker for him in the event of an attack (although we never see it). The other exteriors that I've already mentioned, like the outside of Shatterdome and the Alaskan coastal wall's construction site, help to add to the film's gigantic scale, as does the news footage of a Kaiju breaking through the wall in Sidney, the image of the destroyed Tokyo in Mako's memory, and the big battle in the middle of Hong Kong. One of the most strikingly beautiful is the Alaskan beach that Raleigh eventually manages to pilot Gypsy Danger to after Yancy's death in the opening. While the shot of the nearly destroyed Jaeger emerging from the gloom onto the shore is amazing in and of itself, the same goes for the big wide-shot of the place when you see the father and son searching for stuff with their metal detector, as there's virtually nothing but white and all around them. It's just an awe-inspiring image. And finally, you have the battle-sites between the Jaegers and the Kaiju, which often occur out in the turbulent, storm-riddled waters of the ocean but also include the upper reaches of the atmosphere when Otachi flies Gypsy Danger up there and the ocean floor leading to the Breach, which is something straight out of a comic book in how it's a fissure crackling with inter-dimensional energy. These environments are all digital but they're just as good to look at as the practical sets and locations, which were often enhanced in the computer themselves.
In keeping with the fairly light-hearted, adventurous feel he intended for it to have, Guillermo del Toro shot Pacific Rim in a richly colorful manner. Even the scenes that take place in environments where there isn't much color to speak of, like the overcast Alaskan beach, the interior of the Alaskan coastal wall construction site, and the rusted, industrial rooms in Shatterdome don't look as washed out and grim as you'd expect them to be, instead having something of a depth to the color pallet, with the characters and their clothing noticeably standing out, and that's to say nothing of the much more intentionally colorful environments. As you've already seen in the previous paragraph and in other shots of it beforehand, Hong Kong is depicted as a very bright and colorful city, making the battle between Gypsy Danger and Otachi in the middle of it particularly visually appealing (even that landfill, despite its grimy nature, is shot in a way that makes it look somewhat nice), but the interiors of the Jaegers' cockpits are also full of color, often either deep red or deep blue, depending on the situation, and the same goes for both the exteriors and innards of the Breach. Plus, that aforementioned scene inside of the dead Otachi is truly lovely because of the very deep blue that permeates every inch of it, and Hannibal Chau himself is a very colorful character, in terms of his personality and also how he dresses and the way his hideout looks. I could go on and on but you get the idea: this is one of the most visually appealing monster movies of the modern era.
I have mixed feelings about the Kaiju themselves, as when I first saw the movie in the theater, they all felt generic and ran together to me. After repeated viewings, I'm now aware that each one has its own unique design and some of them are cool enough to leave an impression but, as a whole, they don't really stand out as anything special to me. I think it's a combination of different factors, like how they're completely CGI, like just about all monsters you see in movies nowadays, and how they feel like just another example of the type of giant, dull-colored, often quadruped monster that became a dime-a-dozen after Cloverfield (and would continue with the MUTOs in Godzilla). The main thing is how, despite the individual details that give each of them its own look, they feel far too cut from the same cloth. You later find out that they're cloned creatures, so it makes sense that they would be similar in a way, but instead of making them all these huge reptilian or fish-like monsters with vaguely humanoid shapes and the same basic, dark-dull color pallet, they could have put in a little more variety, such as going for some more mammalian monsters, with one maybe looking like an ape and another a wolf, and have their similarities be purely in their genetics. It would have been both something to break up the monotony and to show that, while they're cloned creatures, each of them was created with its own unique purpose in mind. Finally, the Kaiju are unlike the classic movie monsters that inspired them in that they don't have any personality; they're just a threat that needs to be eliminated, making them more in line with the monsters in American sci-fi flicks of the 50's and 60's. Again, they were created for the sole purpose of clearing out mankind so their creators could take over the Earth, so it kind of makes sense that there wouldn't be much to them, but it only adds to they're not being among the most memorable movie monsters that have ever been created.
All those gripes aside, most of the Kaiju featured are cool in their own ways, be it their design or their significance to the story. I like the first one that shows up during the prologue and attacks the Golden Gate Bridge, mainly due to its sheer size, the big, blade-like thing on its head the destruction it causes, and how it takes six days for the military to bring it down, as well as the one that breaks through the coastal wall in Australia and is ultimately brought down by Striker Eureka, again for its look and mass. The first truly prominent one, Knifehead, is shaped like a shark (a Goblin shark to be exact), has a shell-like section of armor on his back, and gets his name from his long, blade-like nose that was also supposedly taken from a Goblin shark but I can't help but wonder if it's also something of an homage to Guiron from Gamera vs. Guiron, who truly is a "Knifehead" in every sense of the word. The Kaiju that's shown attacking Tokyo in Mako's memory, leaving her an orphan, is unique in that it's actually crab-like in shape, with a large, temple-like crest behind its head, and is significant in that it's the cause of all of Mako's emotional torment and the root of her desire for revenge. The two Kaiju that attack Hong Kong, Leatherback and Otachi, are the most unique to me. Leatherback is a big, brutish Kaiju, with lots of muscle and armor (as I mentioned apes earlier, its shape is akin to that of a gorilla but still overall reptilian in nature), a collection of glowing tendrils on the back of his head, a noticeable crest on his crown, six eyes, and an organ on his back that can discharge a powerful, electromagnetic pulse that covers quite a distance. If I had to pick a favorite, it'd probably have to be Otachi, the one confirmed female Kaiju. Being smaller than Leatherback, Otachi tends to stay on all fours, with a body shape akin to that of a large lizard, appears to be more cunning and less brutish, and has a number of interesting features, like an edged tail, a bottom jaw that can split in two, a bioluminescent tongue that can open up to resemble a flower, a sac under her neck from which she can spew a very powerful acid, and huge wings that she can deploy from her forearms. As Guillermo del Toro himself said, she's like the Kaiju equivalent of a Swiss army knife. Unfortunately, none of the three Kaiju that the Jaegers contend with during the final battle are that memorable, save for the one named Raiju for the weird way in which the flesh on his face opens up like a banana when he roars (it's akin to how the dog creature's face splits open in John Carpenter's The Thing), as well as the fact that he dies by being sliced in half from head to tail, and the enormous, "Category V" called Slattern that they face when they reach the Breach. He's only memorable, though, because he's the biggest one ever and because his head is similar to that of a hammerhead shark; otherwise, he doesn't do much that's significant.
The shared biological and mental characteristics of the Kaiju are particularly interesting. They all share a hive mind akin to the Drift the Jaeger pilots use to operate their machines and communicate with other, enabling them to instantly relay basic information to one another, be it a cry for help or to warn another of an oncoming attack. They all have a secondary brain that's required to operate their massive bodies' motor and cognitive functions (although, Dr. Geiszler compares this bit of their biology to the dinosaurs, even though that theory has long since been disproven) and a lot of them also have a secondary pair of arms. They even come with their own type of skin parasites, which are these large bugs that are about as big as a middle-sized dog and look like a cross between a louse and a flea. Surprisingly, they're not that aggressive, as Hannibal Chau's guys don't have much trouble in handling and carrying them, and while they often die not too long after their Kaiju hosts, Chau says they can be kept alive if they're soaked in ammonia. That leads into probably the most significant biological tidbit about the Kaiju: they're extremely toxic in nature. Their bodily fluids are ammonia-based, with their blood, dubbed "Kaiju Blue," being very acidic and contaminating the environment where it's spilled. It's also said that when a Kaiju's body decomposes, it releases a deadly vapor into the air that can completely blanket cities and other areas around it. In short, it's the acid nature of the Aliens' blood cranked up to ten (which begs the question as to how Hannibal Chau was able to survive being swallowed by Otachi's baby).
The Kaiju's toxic nature are tied to their creators, a race of beings from another dimension known simply as the "Precursors." Not much is known about them but they attempted to take over the Earth once before, during the time of the dinosaurs, but they couldn't survive the planet's atmospheric and environmental conditions. However, as mankind polluted the Earth more and more, things became more ideal for them (Geiszler states that we more or less terraformed it for them) until finally, in 2013, they began sending out the Kaiju. They do so in waves, with the first couple of years of attacks meant to be a way of sizing things up and hitting the populated areas, followed by the more destructive second wave over the next eight years, which was when humanity managed to gain the upperhand with the Jaegers, and the third and final wave, which the main story of the film takes place in and is meant as the end of humanity in general. The gateway to the Precursors' universe is the Breach, a fissure at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that contains a portal leading to it. It's said to be atomic in nature, with electromagnetic signatures emitting from its structure, and Dr. Gottlieb comes to theorize that a nuclear warhead dropped with the Breach would make it collapse. However, at the eleventh hour of the mission to do so, he and Geiszler discover that the Breach only allows Kaiju through, which is why all past attempts attacks on it were deflected, forcing the Jaegers to use one of the monsters' body to pass through the Breach and drop their payload. When they do so, we get to see what the Precursors' world looks like, which is a bizarre, biomechanical passage that goes through several levels, which open up in a fleshy manner, to reveal a darkly-lit world with archways and structures that are vaguely H.R. Giger-like in design, crackling with energy, suspended above a thick-looking sea, with storm clouds in the sky, and a huge planet in the background that looks like it's burning. The Precursors themselves are very thin, humanoid creatures that look very insect-like, with big crests on their heads and small, lifeless-looking eyes.
One last thing about the Kaiju is that it's interesting to see how humanity reacts to their existence. Not only are the individual Kaiju given code-names but they're also put into categories that signify how powerful and threatening they are, akin to that of hurricanes and tornadoes. This notion of likening the creatures to storms hearkens back to the later Godzilla movies, where Godzilla was seen as more of a force of nature rather than an evil monster, and it's expanded upon further with the construction of the coastal walls meant to protect various cities. Although in the context of the story, it's meant to be a less expensive and safer alternative to the Jaegers, which the Kaiju have begun to defeat in droves, it also acts as a way of showing that mankind is beginning to see them as powerful forces that they can't hope to defeat and can only brace themselves against. And then, there's the fact that the Kaiju eventually become part of both pop culture and the economy. Not only are the body parts sold on the black market for various uses (Dr. Geiszler is told that Kaiju bone powder helps with male stamina) but they're also put on merchandise like shoes and clothes, are made into mascots, as seen on one television show, and even action figures. I find that last part to be really cool, given how kaiju movies of the past actually featured toys of monsters, both good and bad, that are known to exist in their universes, like Godzilla vs. Hedorah, aka Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, where the lead kid is shown to have a collection of toys that include both Godzilla and King Ghidorah. In the past, a lot of people have pointed out that the idea of marketing destructive creatures like that was an odd thing to do in the realities of those films but, while it definitely is to an extent, this movie makes it work. Think about it: if you have creatures that are cool, despite their destructive nature, it makes sense that people would figure kids might enjoying playing with toys or that people would like them to adorn their clothes.
I don't usually say this about any sort of "mecha," as I'm typically more interested in the actual monsters, but the Jaegers are just as, if not more, interesting as the Kaiju. What I find most fascinating about them is how they're operated by two or more pilots who share share a direct neural interface with them via a bridge known as "the Drift." This is accomplished by their armored suits, which come with spinal clamps that connect them to the Jaegers' spines and a special gel in the helmets that allows the pilots to communicate neurally. In essence, the two pilots' minds are literally linked with each other along with the Jaeger, with each knowing the other's every thought and memory, and they work together even better if they're "Drift compatible," meaning that they can work and act perfectly in sync with each other. (I'd be surprised if this weren't inspired, at least in part, by Neon Genesis Evangelion, as the pilots in that anime do share something of a link to their Evas, and their suits are a bit similar to those worn by the Jaeger pilots. There's one episode that requires two of the pilots to become in sync with each other.) A strong personal bond between the pilots adds to their skill, which is why brothers Raleigh and Yancy worked so well together. You learn that Raleigh and Marshall Pentecost are the only known pilots who've successfully controlled a Jaeger on their own (Raleigh when he finished the battle with Knifehead after Yancy's death and Pentecost when he saved Mako in Tokyo), a feat that is very difficult to pull off because the strain of interfacing with the Jaeger is so great that it's the reason why each requires more than one pilot. Another hazard with the Drift is what's known as "chasing the rabbit," where a pilot gets lost in the memories that are continuously flowing through, to the point where the Jaeger begins mimicking the actions they're taking while doing so, as happens when Mako gets caught up in the memory of the death of her parents.
Of the four Jaegers that are featured in the movie, Gypsy Danger, the one piloted by Raleigh and Yancy and, later, by Mako, reminds me the most of an Eva, and it definitely radiates Raleigh's confident attitude, as he often makes it gesture in ways like putting its fist in an open hand and putting up its dukes. By the time we get to the main story, it's one of the older model Jaegers, being a Mark-3, while two of the others are Mark-4 and 5, but as Raleigh himself says, a Jaeger is only as good as its pilot and Gypsy Danger proves to be a very formidable opponent for the Kaiju thanks to Raleigh, Yancy, and Mako. Weapon-wise, either of its hands can function as big plasma cannons and during the latter part of the battle with Otachi, Raleigh learns that it's been outfitted with a new weapon: a couple of big chain swords that can also be used as a pair of whips. The nuclear reactor that powers it (it was the last Jaeger to use one as a power source and it's later revealed that the lack of shielding in the first generation led to Pentecost's radiation poisoning) is what Raleigh ultimately has to use to destroy the Breach during the climax and Gypsy Danger also has an advantage over the others in that, being analog, it can withstand Leatherback's EMP blasts, while the others shorted out as a result. Striker Eureka, the Jaeger piloted by Chuck and Herc Hansen, is the first and only of the Mark-5 series, making it the fastest and most powerful of the Jaegers and Chuck, for all his brashness, puts it to good use when he and his father easily take down the Kaiju that attacks Sidney. Its fists come equipped with brass knuckles, it has a couple of blades that it can remove to use as weapons, and its chest has a very potent, six turret missile launcher; the back of its head also has an escape hatch, which allow Chuck and Herc to climb up onto the Jaeger's head after it's been deactivated by the EMP.
The Chinese Jaeger, the red-colored Crimson Typhoon, is unique among the others in how its piloted by three people, the Wei Tang triplets and it actually has three arms to accommodate it. It's a very agile and flexible machine, to the point of being acrobatic, with a lower torso and legs that can rotate 180 degrees, a plasma cannon on its left arm, its hands can pop outward, and the fingers on both right hands can split in half and rotate to act like saw blades. The pilots use this feature in conjunction with the rotating lower torso and its rear jets for its signature attack, called "Thundercloud Formation." The Russian Jaeger, Cherno Alpha, piloted by Sasha and Aleksis Kaidonovsky, is the oldest of them all, being a Mark-1. It's the most heavily armored but is also the slowest as a result, and has a weapon called "Roll of Nickels," which are a series of cylinders that dramatically increase the power of the Jaeger's punches. It can also damage a Kaiju's head by creating an electric arc by smashing either side of it, foot spikes that give it additional support and balance, and its cockpit is actually located in its chest rather than the head.
As you've undoubtedly gleamed from the images you've seen so far, the visual effects in Pacific Rim are breathtaking, to say the least. Yes, about 95% of them are CGI but they're about as close to perfection as digital effects can get and the fact that most of them are created by Industrial Light & Magic gives them an even bigger stamp of quality. The Kaiju, Jaegers, and the environments they are put into all look great and as realistic as possible for digital creations, especially the city of Hong Kong and the turbulent seas a couple of the battles take place in, as well as the Breach and the Precursors' universe. However, not everything was done in the computer, as there are some pratical effects thrown in there, particularly some miniatures by 32TEN Studios, the most impressive of which is a shot of Gypsy Danger's hand crashing through the wall of an office building from the outside. Yes, by all accounts, that was done for real and it looks really good. They also put in some other practical elements but that's the most noteworthy one by far. Besides wanting a few more instances of practical effects to be put in there, like maybe some more animatronic and physical effects for the Kaiju themselves (aside from the inside of Otachi's corpse, the other Kaiju remains seen throughout, the flesh that Hannibal Chau cuts his way out of at the end, and the animatronic skin parasites), there's nothing else I can say about the work in this movie other than it's colossal and bigger than life, as it should be.
The film begins with computerized texts of what the words "Kaiju" and "Jaeger" literally mean, followed by narration from Raleigh, as he talks about how, ironically, alien life was discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean instead of from deep space, as we get our first look at the Breach, as it crackles with energy. He then adds that he was fifteen when the first Kaiju appeared and we then see the enormous creature grabbing onto and ripping the Golden Gate Bridge in half as it lets out a frightening, screeching roar, with vehicles falling into the water below along with a section of the bridge. Fighter jets come flying, firing on the monster, which completely dwarfs them and they fly underneath one of its arms, only to slam into a spine on the tip of its tail. Raleigh then tells us that the Kaiju was finally taken down six days later, but only after it had destroyed three cities and killed tens of thousands of people, as we see a montage of news coverage of the tragedy, people evacuating and taking shelter, a shot of the Kaiju's body amongst a ruined city, and even a shot of President Obama at a press conference, as well as the Kaiju's head in a memorial. We then see a bit of the second Kaiju attacking Manila, which is the event that led to the discovery of how toxic the monsters' blood is, and Raleigh tells us that the third and fourth followed shortly afterward, as we a Kaiju's corpse being carried on a freighter. At this point, it was clear that the Kaiju were going to keep coming and so, the countries of the world pooled their resources to create a way to combat them: the Jaeger program. He goes on to talk about the initial setbacks, as the neural load of interfacing with a Jaeger required more than one pilot, and once that was implemented, humanity began winning. As a result, Jaeger pilots became celebrities equivalent to rock stars and Kaiju ended up being commercialized. He says, "We got really good at it: winning. Then... then, it all changed."
This is where the story truly begins, in the year 2020, as Raleigh is woken up in his quarters by a warning about the appearance of a Category-3 Kaiju code-named "Knifehead." He gets out of bed, excitedly wakes up Yancy in his bunk, telling him of the situation, and Yancy blearily walks into the bathroom, telling Raleigh not to get cocky. The two of them are then shown heading down the corridor of their base, as Raleigh tells us that he and Yancy were very unlikely heroes but their fighting skills and Drift compatibility made them ideal for Jaeger pilots. They're put into their suits, the spinal clamps are attached, and they're given their helmets, with the gel inside quickly being absorbed, and then walk into the cockpit and into their positions, as they're attached to their Jaeger. After some chatting with Tendo Choi, who tells them about a date he had the night before with a woman who already had a boyfriend, when Marshal Pentecost walks onto the command deck, telling him to engage the drop (i.e. the attachment of Gypsy Danger's head to its body). The robot's head is literally dropped down a shaft and automatically clamps itself to the top of the torso, before it's then fired up and pulled towards the base's enormous hangar doors as they open to reveal a stormy night, with very turbulent seas. The "neural handshake," the final part of the Drifting sequence, is initiated and we see the guys' memories in a fast flow of images and sounds before we cut back to reality. They then check to make sure that the two hemispheres are calibrated, which they are, as they make Gypsy Danger take its signature pose, slamming its left fist into its open right hand. Pentecost tells them that their orders are to protect the city of Anchorage and they are to disregard a fishing boat that's currently still in the gulf, which strikes both of them as being cold. Once the communicator is off, though, it becomes clear that they intend to save the boat anyway and they head out into the churning ocean, with Raleigh narrating, "There are things you can't fight: cts of God. You see a hurricane coming, you have to get out of the way. But when you're in a Jaeger, suddenly, you can fight the hurricane. You can win."
Elsewhere, the aforementioned fishing boat is being tossed about the ocean like it's nothing, as the captain is told that they're seven miles from Anchorage. It doesn't look like they'll make it, when the captain points out an island three miles east on the radar... when the island suddenly becomes closer by a mile. When it closes the distance of another mile, the captain sees an enormous form approaching them from through the window and he realizes that it's a Kaiju. Knifehead is shown swimming just beneath the surface, as the boat tries to turn away, but he breaks the surface in a big tsunami, letting out a loud howl of a roar, before peering down at the boat. Just as it looks as if they're done for, Gypsy Danger emerges from the water on the other side of the boat and lifts it up into the air, securing it. Knifehead then attacks, slashing the Jaeger's right shoulder as it swings around to protect the boat from the Kaiju. The boat is placed safely back in the water, as Gypsy Danger comes back around and belts Knifehead in the face, following that up with another punch that causes him to duck his head under the water, and they then bring both of the Jaeger's fists down on him when he comes back up. Knifehead lifts his head out of the water again and leaps at the Jaeger, catching its left fist in his mouth, but Raleigh and Yancy manage to hold him back, charge up the right hand's plasma cannon, and deliver three powerful shots to the torso, sending Knifehead flying backwards and making him crash back beneath the surface. At the base, Choi detects the cannon's discharge in the gulf and Pentecost angrily admonishes Raleigh and Yancy for disobeying their orders when the former brags about taking Knifehead down. He tells them to get back to their post, when Choi detects that a Kaiju signature that's rising. Choi warns Pentecost that Knifehead is still alive and he, in turn, warns the pilots, telling them to take the boat and get out.
They look down at the Kaiju's blood on the water near the boat and scan the surface for him, when he explodes out of the water and slaps the Jaeger in the face. They manage to grab his head and are tossed around while trying to keep him at bay, as he snaps at them repeatedly. Raleigh tries to charge up the left hand's plasma cannon but Knifehead smacks the hand down and stabs the Jaeger through the torso with his blade-like skull, tearing clean through and badly injuring Raleigh's own left arm. Choi tells Pentecost of the damage to the arm, as the men on the fishing boat watch the tides turn in the Kaiju's favor, as he rips the arm off completely, sending it falling to the water in front of the boat. He then smacks the Jaeger back and slams its head, while in the cockpit, Yancy realizes that the hull's been breached. He turns to Raleigh and tries to tell him something, when Knifehead rips him out directly through the cockpit's roof. Horrified, Raleigh seems defenseless as Knifehead tackles Gypsy Danger and slams it backwards against a landmass behind it, before driving his blade straight into the chest. Despite his injury and being tossed around, Raleigh fights back, charging up the right plasma cannon again, as Knifehead rips into what's left of the other arm and tears it off, continuing to savagely bit into the shoulder and such. The two titans struggle with each other, when the plasma cannon fires with a mighty blast; back at the base, Choi tells Pentecost that discharge fried the comms and he's not getting signatures anymore. Pentecost grimly walks out of the room without a word, as the scene transitions to a snow-covered shore on a gray, overcast day. A man and his son are out hunting for stuff with a metal detector, when they find an old toy in the snow. The boy complains that they never find anything good, when his father detects something else. Realizing it's coming from offshore, the man watches in amazement as the nearly destroyed Gypsy Danger plods onto the shore, falls to its knees, and collapses face-down into the snow. The man runs towards the cockpit, telling his son to stay back, as Raleigh, his suit horribly mangled, staggers out of the machine in a hysterical daze. The man's voice sounds like a distant echo to him, and with blood on the right side of his suit and on the exposed shoulder of his left arm, he collapses on his back, murmuring Yancy's name. The man sends his son off to get help and stays with Raleigh, as the camera pulls up until it shows them juxtaposed with the fallen Jaeger, as the film cuts to a digital graphic of the Jaeger symbol collapsing amidst other small pieces, revealing the title.
Following that, as a voice talks about how it's gotten to the point where the Kaiju are destroying Jaegers faster than they can be built, we get a short montage of the destroyed machines in various cities before we see that the voice is that of an American representative talking to Marshal Pentecost. We then see that it's been five years and that the Alaskan base is being shut down, with all the equipment and personnel being moved to Hong Kong to wait the program's final days. Shortly afterward, as he's shown working on the construction of the Alaskan coastal wall, Raleigh and the other construction workers see a news report about how a powerful, Category 4 Kaiju broke through the wall in Sidney in less than an hour. Footage of the monster doing just that is shown on the set, with people watching in the foreground as it makes its way towards the Sidney Opera House, and this causes unrest amongst the workers, with one of them asking why they're even bothering to build the walls. The report then goes on to describe how the Jaeger Striker Eureka, with Herc and Chuck Hansen at the helm, defeated the Kaiju, as footage of their battle is shown, with the Jaeger delivering an uppercut to the Kaiju, punching it on the right side of his head, grabbing it and slamming it against the side of a building, and delivering another blow to the other side of the head. The Jaeger then finishes it off with the missile turrets in its chest, blasting the Kaiju repeatedly in the face and neck and sending it tumbling down to the street, where it crashes on its side. Chuck is then shown proclaiming to the reporter that the program was only decommissioned because of lackluster pilots and brags that that was Striker Eureka's tenth kill. Immediately following that, Marshal Pentecost arrives and convinces Raleigh to rejoin the program.
In the next scene, Raleigh is flown to the Shatterdome base in Hong Kong, where he's introduced to Mako Mori as soon as he gets off the helicopter, as well as Dr. Geiszler and Gottlieb. Following that, Pentecost and Mako show him around the facility, first showing him the war-clock on the wall and then three of the four Jaegers they have left. He's shown Crimson Typhoon and sees the Wei Tang triplets playing basketball in a small section nearby; Cherno Alpha, and he gets a look at Sasha and Aleksis Kaidonovsky; and, after meeting Herc Hansen, whom he flew with before, along with Yancy, Pentecost tells Raleigh that Herc and Chuck will use Striker Eureka to run point, describing it as the fastest of all the Jaegers. He then tells Raleigh of the plan to drop a nuclear warhead into the Breach, telling him that he has a plan to make it work, unlike before. In the next scene, Pentecost and Herc meet with Geiszler and Gottlieb in their laboratory, the latter finishing up a huge equation on his large chalkboard, while the former is dissecting Kaiju parts. Gottlieb mentions how the rate of attacks has been increasing and feels that, within a week, two will attack at once, followed up by three and then four. He then shows them a digital diagram of the Breach and how believes that it will remain open long enough for the warhead to go through and destroy it. Geiszler chimes in, telling Pentecost and Herc of his theory that the Kaiju are cloned creatures, showing two identical tissue samples that are from two Kaiju that appeared six years apart from each other as his proof, and shows them a piece of a Kaiju's brain in a large vat. He suggests that he can Drift with it using the same technology as the Jaeger pilots and find out everything that they'd want to know; Pentecost and Herc, however, are having none of it, feeling that the neural load would be too much and they, like Gottlieb, dismiss his idea. Meanwhile, Mako shows Raleigh that his Jaeger will be the rebuilt Gypsy Danger, and he reunites with Choi before being shown to his room.
Not too long afterward, trials begin to find Raleigh a new co-pilot, as he duels with them using combat sticks to see how well synced their moves are. He easily defeats the first candidate without him landing a single hit, landing him flat on his back; the second manages to land one hit but Raleigh still overwhelms him; and the third manages to get two in before he's knocked to the floor. Raleigh then asks Mako why she gives this disapproving look after every match and she admits that she disapproves of his performance, feeling that he could take them out earlier in the duel. He suggests giving Mako a shot, which Pentecost is initially against, but when Raleigh comments, "What's the matter, Marshal? Don't think your brightest can cut it in the ring with me?", she's allowed to face him. Taking her shoes and socks off and stripping down to a tanktop, she joins him in the ring, and as they take their places, Raleigh tells her that it's all about compatibility, but adds that he's not going to dial back his moves; she responds, "Okay. Then neither will I." They take their stances and Raleigh quickly lands a soft blow on Mako's head, earning him a point. She then immediately knocks his stick away and touches him on his forehead, instantly creating a tie. Raleigh knocks her on the side, earning another point, and tells her to concentrate; they then come at each other and exchange blows with their sticks, when Mako lands one on his forearm. The score is tied again and they continue to trade blows, with Mako managing to flip Raleigh onto the mat and landing a blow on the side of his head when he rolls up into a defensive posture. Pentecost speaks to Mako in Japanese, telling her to use more control, and after another exchange of blows, Raleigh manages to flip her over and earn another point. One more bit of sparing ends with Mako getting Raleigh on his back, winning the match. With that, Raleigh proclaims that she's his copilot but Pentecost refuses, although he doesn't explain himself. He tells him to report to Shatterdome in two hours to find out who his copilot and everyone disperses.
As Pentecost grapples with his decision about Raleigh's copilot, and his nose bleeds, forcing him to take a pill, we cut to more news footage of the Kaiju attack on Sidney, showing the monster stomping into the heart of the city, as a female reporter mentions the public is now questioning why the Jaeger program has been decommissioned, with riots now erupting in cities that are at risk. It's then shown that Raleigh is watching this report as he changes clothes, as the United States representative we saw earlier makes a statement about how millions have been relocated to the "safe zone," which an off-camera reporter suggests is for the rich and powerful. Down in the lab, Geiszler scrapes together a means to Drift with the Kaiju brain he has there, recording the trial on a tape recorder and, as he straps on the headpiece and connects to the brain's tube, he decides to tell Gottlieb that, whatever the outcome, he's won, rationalizing that his attitude drove him to it. Counting down from three, he hits the button and we see the Drift, as Geiszler's memories flow by rapidly, followed up by a bizarre collection of images showing the Kaiju being grown in strange, biomechanical vats, as the Precursors look on from nearby. When we cut back to reality, Geiszler is sitting on the floor, his body convulsing, as Gottlieb comes in and does what he can to help him.
Mako's disappointment at not being able to be Raleigh's copilot doesn't last long, as Pentecost comes to her room and tells her that he's prepared to keep a promise he made to her a long time ago, handing her a little girl's red dress shoe as a symbolic gesture. The command deck is shown bustling, preparing for Gypsy Danger's trial run, while in the cockpit of the Jaeger, Raleigh awaits for the arrival of his new copilot. Hearing someone walk in and an announcement that the second pilot has arrived, Raleigh tells the person that he's going to take the Jaeger's right side, given his injured left arm, only to look and see that it's Mako. He's pleasantly surprised and tells her that there's no point in saying anything, as she's about to go into his head. Pentecost walks on the command deck and tells Choi to prepare for the neural handshake, which he initiates, and as Gypsy Danger powers up, Raleigh warns Mako to just let her thoughts flow through without latching onto them. They then enter the Drift and we're shown a flood of memories, including happy and traumatic ones from Mako's childhood, and we get back to reality, she's thrown back a bit but immediately stabilizes herself, as they beginning calibrating the hemispheres. The Jaeger responds perfectly to them and things appear to be going well, when Gottlieb comes running in. Pentecost initially brushes him off, but pays attention when he tells him that Geiszler managed to Drift with a Kaiju brain. He takes the marshal down to the lab, where Geiszler is sitting in a chair, looking very haggard, with his right arm shaking, left eye bloodshot, and his left nostril bleeding. Geiszler reiterates to Pentecost that it would work and the marshal asks him what he saw. He rambles very quickly about it at first, until Pentecost tells him to take his time and not to leave out any details. The marshal has to tell Gottlieb to keep his mouth shut, as he keeps belittling and dismissing what Geiszler says, but when he does, Geiszler tells Pentecost that the Kaiju are the creations of otherworldly beings who take over any world they can. They've been patiently waiting since their first try millions of years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs, and now, with all of the pollution that the Earth has suffered, conditions are ideal and they're not going to stop until humanity is dead. Pentecost tells Geiszler that he must do it again, insinuating that he knows how to get another Kaiju brain.
Back in the hangar, the trial of Gypsy Danger is going well, although the always arrogant Chuck Hansen is unimpressed and has to be put in his place by his father; elsewhere, Pentecost tells Geiszler and Gottlieb of Hannibal Chau and sends the former to Hong Kong to find him, warning him, "Do not trust him." Just as the Jaeger's calibration becomes complete, things hit a snag when Raleigh remembers Yancy's death, throwing both him and Mako out of alignment. Choi warns them of this and Raleigh manages to come back in; however, Mako is now further out and is starting to chase the rabbit. Raleigh tries to talk her back but it's too late: she finds herself stuck in her most painful memory, as snow falls around her and she sees that she's carrying the shoe we saw earlier. We then see her as a little girl, wandering the deserted, snow-covered streets of an evacuated Tokyo, holding the same shoe and crying her eyes out. Jets fly above her, firing at a huge cloud of smoke at the other end of the street, and movement within reveals it to be a Kaiju. One jet slams into one of its crab-like claws, while another suffers a similar fate. The Kaiju then looks down at Mako and screeches, sending her running as it stomps into the heart of the city, slicing through and smashing the sides of buildings and sending debris falling everywhere. Mako runs for it and takes cover in an alleyway, hiding behind a large dumpster, as the Kaiju approaches. Raleigh is shown standing at the end of the alley and tries to tell her that what's happening isn't real, when the Kaiju's approaching footsteps shake the dumpster. It then plants one of its feet down at the opening of the alley and, looking in, it screeches and tries to force its huge body into the space. Mako panics, jumping and holding her arm out defensively; in reality, this action causes one of Gypsy Danger's plasma cannons to power up and it threatens to fire inside the base.
All of the bystanders run for cover and Choi tells another technician to go to failsafe, but Mako's neural connection is too strong for it to work. Choi frantically pushes a red button on a panel but it does nothing, while in the Drift, Raleigh, realizing the danger, continues trying to snap her out of it. Choi evacuates the command deck, as Mako becomes more dangerously frantic when she remembers how the Kaiju tried to snag her with its claws. Choi and Chuck attempt to pull out the main powerline, while in the memory, both Raleigh and young Mako see a Jaeger being flown above the city's skyline by a squadron of helicopters. The Kaiju then seems to get attacked itself, as it's pulled from the alleyway and Mako turns around and clamps her hands over her ears, while the monsters appears to get into some kind of scuffle behind her. Pentecost then rushes onto the command deck and yells for Choi to take them offline, just as he and Chuck finally pull the plug and Gypsy Danger powers down. The plasma cannon is disengaged and the Jaeger lowers its arm, as the two pilots come out of the Drift. Raleigh disconnects himself and rushes to Mako as she collapses to the floor, stopping her from falling. He removes her helmet and attempts to comfort her, while on the command deck, Pentecost is clearly regretting his decision to allow Mako to pilot.
Geiszler then arrives in the rain-soaked streets of Hong Kong's "Bone Slums," searching for the symbol that Pentecost told him will lead him to Hannibal Chau, when he finds it, along with a directional arrow, when he illuminates a sign in the street. Following the arrow, he finds a shop with the symbol on one of its outside pillars, and goes inside. The man behind the counter in there asks him if he would like to buy some Kaiju bone powder but when he mentions that he's searching for Chau, the door to the shop is locked and the man opens a secret door on the wall, which leads into a large room that instantly has Geiszler as giddy as a schoolboy. He sees rare Kaiju body parts, like a lymph gland from a Category 2 in a large vial, a cuticle being worked on with a polisher, and sees a man carrying and working with a skin parasite. Chau makes his presence known when he tells Geiszler that the secret to keeping the parasites alive is to soak them in ammonia and he calmly walks up to him, asking him who he is and what he wants. Initially, Geiszler refuses to tell him, but Chau persuades him by taking out his large knife and shoving the blade up his right nostril. He lets him go when he's told that he was sent by Pentecost, putting away his blade and, after telling Geiszler how he came up with his name, he demands, "Now tell me what you want, before I gut ya like a pig and feed you to the skin louse."
Waiting outside of Pentecost's office, Raleigh and Mako hear Chuck arguing with the marshal about how he doesn't want them protecting him during the mission to destroy the Breach and he comes stomping through the door (you can hear Pentecost tell him that he needs to watch his tone). Herc tells him to stay there and wait for him, then closes the door. Chuck proceeds to give Raleigh and Mako a verbal lashing, calling them a disgrace, and suggests to Raleigh that he disappear. Mako tries to speak up for him but Raleigh motions for her not to say anything, prompting Chuck to remark about keeping his "girlfriend" on a leash, calling her a bitch in the process. Raleigh gives Chuck a couple of deserved punches to the head and while he gets one back in retaliation, he gets around a block that Chuck puts up, whacking him in the face again, grabbing him and kneeing him, and punches him in the face hard enough to draw blood and cause him to turn in place. He demands that he apologize for what he said to Mako but Chuck, getting up, says, "Screw you," and swings at him, only for Raleigh to duck and deliver another couple of punches before slamming him against the wall and socking him in the gut. Chuck rushes against him and slams him against the opposite wall, punching him in the side, but Raleigh puts him in an armlock behind his back and flings him to the side, causing him to slam into a pipe in the wall, hard enough to knock it loose and cause it to expel steam. Chuck yells in pain and Raleigh again orders him to apologize to Mako but Chuck attacks again. Raleigh easily blocks his punches, grabs his arm, and flips him onto the floor, pulling his arm behind his back enough to make it crack. Herc rushes outside and breaks the fight up, telling them both to get to their feet. Pentecost, frustrated with what he's seeing, orders Raleigh and Mako into his office, and Herc has to stop Chuck from trying to continue the fight, telling him to act like a Ranger. Chuck just storms off in a huff.
After Pentecost proclaims that he made a mistake allowing Mako in the Jaeger and "grounds" her, he dismisses her, with Raleigh confronting him about what he's doing. He tells Pentecost how, thanks to the Drift, he knows the real reason why he's grounded her. Pentecost makes it clear he's not interested in what he saw and we then cut back to the memory, with little Mako shielding her ears from the loud sounds of the scuffle the Kaiju that was after her gets caught up in. When things suddenly get quiet, she walks to the mouth of the alleyway, picking up the shoe she dropped, and out into the destroyed street, seeing the Kaiju lying dead to her right. Hearing something, she turns the other way and sees a Jaeger standing not too far away from her on the other side of the street, slightly silhouetted by the dust in the air and backlit by the sun. Both she and Raleigh watch as the Jaeger's sole pilot emerges from the cockpit and removes his helmet, revealing himself to be Pentecost. He and Mako exchange warm smiles as we go back to reality, as Raleigh chases the marshal to the elevator, trying to get him to talk about it, but Pentecost puts him firmly in his place before leaving via the elevator. In the next scene, ostracized by everyone else because of what happened, Raleigh and Mako eat by themselves away from the dining hall, looking out at Gypsy Danger, as he explains that first-time Drifts are hard to deal with and that what she experienced along with Raleigh's emotions was Yancy's feelings when he was killed.
Things begin to stir up when, on the command deck, Choi hears a computer's AI report that there's movement in the Breach. Two signatures are detected and they're both revealed to be Category 4 Kaiju, as we actually see them emerging from the fissure with a roar. Everyone is called in, with Choi telling them that the Kaiju, Otachi and Leatherback, will reach Hong Kong within an hour; Pentecost orders the city evacuated, the bridges shut down, and has Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha frontline the harbor, while Striker Eureka is to guard the coastline and to only engage as a final option. Raleigh and Mako, meanwhile, are ordered to stay put. The Jaegers then move out, with Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha being airlifted by helicopters while Striker Eureka walks to the coastline. The former two Jaegers are dropped into the water and are told to engage at their discretion, with a warning that these Kaiju are the biggest yet; once they're dropped, they begin trudging through the water. After a scene where Geiszler tells Chau that he wants a Kaiju's second brain, Typhoon and Alpha continue trudging the harbor, when a shape beneath the surface begins ghosting them. Detecting it, Typhoon scans the surface, when Otachi explodes out of the water, landing on her four legs and swinging around and sending the Jaeger through the air with a whip of her tail. Typhoon tumbles into the water and shakes itself off, as the Wei Tang triplets prepare to initiate thundercloud formation. Activating their blades, they face off with Otachi, who jumps at them, only to get slashed repeatedly about the torso and neck. She manages to grab ahold of two of the arms, when Typhoon uses its jets to suspend itself above her and rotate its legs, before landing back in the water and flipping Otachi over its shoulder. Otachi rises to the surface, only for Cherno Alpha to come running in and elbow-drop her on the back of the neck before punching her in the side of the face twice and following that up with a blow to the front. Just as the Jaeger is about to deliver another blow, Otachi whips it back with her tail, causing it to fall beneath the water. Seeing this from their position, Herc says that they're moving in but Pentecost orders them to stay where they are because of their importance to the mission to destroy the Breach. Alpha then gets back to its feet, as Otachi hits Typhoon in the head with her tail and then brings it around over her back and grabs the Jaeger's head with the claw-like tip, wrenching them around. Chuck and Herc then decide to help, regardless of Pentecost's orders, and the marshal can only glare at Raleigh, as this undoubtedly reminds him of his past disobedience.
Otachi crushes Typhoon's cockpit with her tail, killing the triplets and putting the Jaeger out of commission, causing it to sink beneath the waves. Alpha, seeing this, moves in, punching its fists together as it prepares to attack, when Otachi opens her mouth and spews out a powerful, blue-colored acid, hitting the Jaeger about the torso. Aleksis Kaidonovsky reports what's happened, saying that their hull has been compromised, as Striker Eureka tries to get there as fast as it can, running at full force. Otachi bites Alpha's right hand and rends it to bits, as the Jaeger holds her by the back of her head... and then, Leatherback explodes out of the water behind it, grabbing the robot by the back of its shoulder and ripping into it before slamming its fist down on the head. Water gets into the reactor, as Leatherback rips Alpha's head clean off, while Eureka is intercepted by Otachi. Herc and Chuck manage to pound her into submission but it's too late to save Alpha, as Leatherback bashes it and shoves it beneath the water, flooding the cockpit. Aleksis and Sasha try to get back out of the water but Leatherback knocks them back under and eventually grabs ahold of the cockpit and rips it apart with an explosion, finishing them off. Pentecost is told of what's happened, while Eureka continues holding its own with Otachi, managing to grab her, lift her up above its head, and fling her a great distance into the water. When she rushes back to the surface, Eureka prepares to finish her off with its missiles, when Leatherback unleashes a powerful series of electromagnetic pulse waves, knocking Eureka off-balance and shocking Herc and Chuck until their Jaeger powers down. The blast also reaches Shatterdome, shorting out all of the equipment on the command deck, leaving Herc and Chuck unable to contact the base. Choi tells Pentecost it'll take him two hours to fix the problem, when Raleigh chimes in to remind them that Gypsy Danger is analog instead of digital like the other Jaegers; Pentecost knows he has no choice but to depend on Raleigh and Mako now. With Eureka no longer a threat, Otachi heads straight for the city. At Chau's hideout, Geiszler is told what's going on and Chau, feeling the Kaiju are after him because he Drifted with the brain, throws him out to send him to a civilian shelter.
Otachi swims towards the docks, knocking a ship aside like a toy as she comes ashore, crushing and smashing through every building and structure in her path. In the streets, Geiszler runs with the panicked masses to the shelter, getting smacked alongside a parked car and badly injuring his hand at one point, when he hears Otachi roar and turns around to see her smashing through the skyline. Panicking, he runs ahead of everyone else, saying that he's a doctor in order for them to let him through, ending up in a secure bunker below ground. Back in the bay, Leatherback circles the defenseless Striker Eureka, roaring a challenge at its face, while in the cockpit, Herc and Chuck try to figure out what to do. Herc suddenly detaches himself from the Jaeger, just as Leatherback smacks the head, sending him slamming into the wall and badly injuring his right arm. Chuck helps his father to his feet, and as Leatherback keeps circling Eureka, he says that they have to escape somehow. Herc, however, tells him that they aren't retreating and, walking over to and opening an automatic compartment, adds, "Now, you and I are the only thing standin' between that ugly bastard and a city of 2 million people! Now we have a choice here: we either sit and wait, or we take these flare guns and do something really stupid." Choosing the latter option, the two of them climb through a hatch, atop the Jaeger's head, as Leatherback watches. Taking the flare gun, Herc yells at the Kaiju, who leans in to look at them, and they both flares at his face, with one of them hitting him in one of his eyes. As Chuck says, this really pisses Leatherback off, and he's about to bring his fists down on them, when a light illuminates him from above and, hearing the sound of helicopter blades, he turns around to see Gypsy Danger being dropped into the water. Raleigh and Mako prepare for battle, while atop Eureka, Herc and Chuck watch as Leatherback charges at Gypsy, only for the Jaeger to duck a swing, and grab and pull at the EMP-producing membrane on the Kaiju's back. Chuck cheers for the Jaeger to kick Leatherback's ass, as Gypsy rips the membrane clean off, thoroughly enraging Leatherback. He grabs Gypsy, putting the machine into a big bear hug, and tosses it to the docks, sending it crashing through a bridge and tumbling across the cargo section, where it manages to gradually brake itself to a halt.
Leatherback comes ashore, crushing a cargo truck beneath his foot and letting out a mighty howl before charging at Gypsy. Raleigh and Mako ready themselves and charge back at him, jumping their Jaeger up into the air and coming down with a fist to the top of the head. Gypsy grabs the crest on Leatherback's head and punches him in the face, following that up with an uppercut, and uses the elbow rocket on the right arm to maximize the power of the next punch, which hits Leatherback dead in the face and sends him tumbling backwards, landing on his stomach. He tears off the top of a crane and hits Gypsy twice in the left shoulder, sending it falling onto some cargo containers, but the Jaeger retaliates by picking up two handfuls of the heavy containers, swinging around, and bashing Leatherback in the head before slamming him on either side with both handfuls. Gypsy shoves him back and he angrily bites a container in his mouth in half, only to get grabbed from behind. Unable to flip him over the shoulder because of his size, they throw him nearby, and he angrily slams his fists onto the containers sitting there before charging and slamming into Gypsy. He pushes the Jaeger backwards along the docks, when Raleigh activates the right plasma cannon and empties the clip into Leatherback's side, as he continuously pushes them backwards, smashing them through an overpass filled with abandoned cars. They manage to blow his left arm off, blasting him again for good measure, and stop him from pushing them backwards into the water by not more than an inch. Leatherback falls onto his back, apparently dead, but when they walk past him, they decide to make sure and blast him four more times, exposing his ribcage. Satisfied that he's dead, Gypsy then turns to the sight of a section of the city skyline in flames.
In the shelter, things suddenly get eerily quiet up above, when a loud bang echoes through the ceiling. Geiszler panics, realizing that this refuge has actually set them up to be killed, and when another hit occurs, everyone else ducks down. He begins to think that Otachi is indeed after him and he makes the mistake of saying that out loud, prompting everyone else to isolate him in the center of the room and then move away from him. He gets thrown to the floor by the civilians, temporarily losing his glasses in the process, and before he puts them back on, Otachi smashes through the roof, digging her way in with her claws. She then uses her mouth to open the hole wider and slips her long, flower-like tongue, seemingly using it to scan Geiszler and confirm his identity. Before she can do anything, though, Otachi turns around and faces Gypsy Danger, which is approaching from the opposite end of the street, dragging a tanker as a makeshift club! When the two giants reach each other, Gypsy brandishes the tanker and whacks Otachi in the jaw with it, following that up with a hit from the opposite that causes her face to slam into a building. She then gets whacked from both the left and right side again but then comes around with the claw-like tip of her tail, grabs the tanker, wrenches it out of Gypsy's hand, and flings it down an adjoining street, where it ends up suspended on either side of it by the buildings. Otachi slams Gypsy with her tail, sending it falling and sliding down the street on its rear, before appearing to try to retreat. Gypsy runs after her, only to see her disappear around the bend on the other side of another street, and the Jaeger then scours the city for the Kaiju, unable to pinpoint her location because of her speed. The choppers seem to be unable to find her either, and Gypsy stomps down the heart of the city, stopping in front of a reflective building, when Otachi comes barrelling through it and slams Gypsy face-first into another building on the other side. The Jaeger comes back around with two fists to the jaw, but when they go for a third punch, Otachi ducks and the fist goes through the building behind the Kaiju, smashes through a huge office space and actually touching one of those little swinging balls displays on a desk. Gypsy pulls its fist back out as Otachi slams it face-first into another building with her tail, before grabbing, turning, and shoving it completely through yet another building. It tumbles to the ground on the other side but quickly gets back to its feet and dodges a stream of acid from Otachi that melts through the side of a building behind it.
When Otachi opens her mouth again, Gypsy reaches in, grabs her tongue, and attempts to rip it out. Otachi wraps her tail around the Jaeger's other arm, trying to force it to let go by snapping at the head with the claw, when Raleigh has Mako vent the coolant on her side. Several seconds of exposure to the coolant soon freezes the tail solid and Gypsy shatters it easily. They then grab the crest on Otachi's head and use that as leverage to increase the strength of their pulling, quickly managing to rip out the tongue. Otachi spews blue, glowing blood everywhere and leaps at Gypsy, grabbing onto its back securely with her back talons, forcing it to the ground, and then reveals she has wings when she spreads them out of her forearms. She takes off with Gypsy, smashing it through the tops of a couple of buildings as she goes, and then clears the skyline, heading off into the sky. She heads up through the clouds, with Gypsy trying to break free but unable to do so, and it looks like Raleigh and Mako are done for, as the cockpit's temperature is dropping, they're losing oxygen, and both plasma cannons are shot. That's when Mako reveals that Gypsy now has a new feature, as she pushes a button that deploys a chain sword from one of the Jaeger's forearms. Starting off like a steel whip, the sword soon becomes solid and, as Mako yells in Japanese, "For my family!", they slice Otachi up through her middle, severing the right wing at an angle and causing her to let go. Of course, they then start plummeting back down to the ground like a meteor, with Pentecost, Choi, and Gottlieb watching from a nearby bridge. As they continue falling, unable to stop, Pentecost contacts them via a walkie-talkie and tells them to loosen the shock absorbers and use the gyroscope as a way of balancing into a ball. Gypsy falls back through the clouds and Raleigh purges the fuel, causing the Jaeger to blast back up a great distance, but they continue to come in much faster than they should be. They aim for a nearby ballfield and slam down in the middle of it, creating a huge dust cloud that engulfs several blocks. Pentecost then uses his night-vision binoculars and watches as Gypsy rises triumphantly from the dust, prompting everyone around him to cheer. Once they're each sure that the other is okay, Raleigh and Mako are also ecstastic over what they've accomplished and they stand Gypsy up completely, silhouetted against the skyline. Pentecost then sends Gottlieb to Geiszler and tells Choi to get both remaining Jaegers back up to 100%.
While Hannibal Chau, as he prepares to head out to harvest Otachi's remains, is disappointed to see that Geiszler is still alive when he shows back up and proudly proclaims, "Guess who's back, you one-eyed bitch?! You owe me a Kaiju brain," Raleigh and Mako are greeted with nothing but cheers back at Shatterdome. Herc, his arm in a sling, assures Raleigh that Chuck is grateful, although he'd never admit it (Raleigh, however, does see Chuck give him a respectful nod from the crowd), and Pentecost congratulates them as well, telling them he's proud. However, he adds that they don't have time to celebrate, given the loss of both Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha, and tells them to reset the war-clock... when Mako motions at his nose, making him realize it's bleeding again. This is the first time Raleigh has seen it and he's stunned as he watched Pentecost quickly remove himself from the hangar.
With Geiszler joining them, Chau and his men converge on Otachi's fallen corpse, taking flesh samples, skin parasites, and such. Geiszler is waiting for Chau's team that have gone inside of the corpse to find and retrieve the secondary brain, but it's taking some time because of the oxygen the men need pumped into their suits. Chau communicates with them via a small walkie-talkie and the leader of the team tells him that they've reached the upper pelvic area, as they come through a wall of bioluminiscent membrane, and are heading for the 25th vertebra (the guy also comments on how awful it smells in there). They then find the secondary brain but report that it's been damaged, which infuriates Geiszler outside. But then, he hears them say wait and, in excitement, runs and grabs the communicator from Chau, only for him to take it back. Inside, there's a slight rumbling that the leader describes as being akin to a heartbeat and, hearing that, Geiszler again takes the communicator and runs from Chau, who tries to take it back. The two of them hear the sound over the comm and, after Chau takes it back again, Geiszler realizes that the Kaiju is pregnant. Inside, they continue to hear the sound until they turn around and see something moving within a sac of flesh. The team leader screams in terror at this and, Chau, hearing that, runs for it, as the baby Kaiju rips out of its dead mother's body with a screech. It tumbles out onto the ground and then chases after the fleeing people, dragging its umbilical cord behind it. As Geiszler is heading up the rear, it goes straight for him, as he falls over himself and crawls along the ground. Just as it's about to reach him, though, it chokes from the cord being wrapped around its neck and falls lifeless to the ground, as Geiszler cowers and shields himself. It takes him a second to realize that nothing's happening and he cautiously gets to his feet, approaches the baby Kaiju. Before he can touch it to make sure it's dead, Chau shows back up, proclaiming that he knew that the creature wouldn't last long outside of the womb. He then takes his knife out and throws it into the Kaiju's nostril before pulling it back out and commenting, "Ugly little bastard." And then, as he's wiping the blood off his blade, he gets chomped when the Kaiju lunges at him and swallows him whole. It then takes a few more steps after Geiszler but chokes again and falls to the ground, this time definitely dead, much to Geiszler relief as he picks up one of Chau's shoes off the ground.
Following a moment between Pentecost and Raleigh in his office where he tells him of the cause and severity of his radiation sickness, Choi contacts the marshal and tells him of two Category 4 Kaiju that have come through the Breach but are hovering above it as if they're protecting it. Pentecost orders the crews for Gypsy and Eureka on deck; meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Gottlieb, who's joined Geiszler, is told of the two signatures and is confused that it's not three like he predicted. Geiszler, attempting to put together what's necessary to Drift with the baby Kaiju's brain, tells him to stuff it, as he only has five minutes before the brain dies. He makes the final preparations for the neural bridge and Gottlieb, insisting that he's not wrong about his prediction, decides to join him in the Drift and share the neural load. When Geiszler is surprised that he would do such a thing, Gottlieb comments, "Well, with worldwide destruction a certain alternative... do I really have a choice?" Back at Shatterdome, the confused Chuck Hansen questions Choi as to who's going to be his copilot, given his father's injured arm. That's when Herc and Pentecost walk through the door, with the latter suited up (he comments, "I don't remember it being so tight,"). Mako, knowing how potentially fatal it could be for Pentecost to pilot a Jaeger, tells him this but he responds that not doing so would mean the death of all mankind. After sharing a final fatherly moment with her, saying that he needs her to protect him while he delivers the payload to the Breach, he makes his inspiring speech about cancelling the apocalypse. Everyone prepares to the mission, and as Pentecost walks towards Striker Eureka with Chuck, he tells him how exactly they're supposed to Drift when they've never flown before: "I carry nothing into the Drift. No memories, no fear, no rank. And as for you, well, you're easy. You're an egotistical jerk with daddy issues, a simple puzzle I solved on day one. But you are your father's son, so we'll Drift just fine." Chuck says that works for him and he says goodbye to his father, as well as to his beloved English bulldog, and joins Pentecost in the elevator. And as he and Mako prepare to connect the cockpit with the rest of the Jaeger, Raleigh says that he's finally started thinking about the future, adding, "I never did have very good timing."
The two Jaegers are flown out to sea, while back in Hong Kong, Geiszler and Gottlieb activate the neural handshake with the baby Kaiju's brain. Once again, memories flow like crazy through the Drift, along with crazy images involving both the Kaiju and the Predecessors, and when we come out of it, Gottlieb is the one spazzing out, with his nose bleeding, while Geiszler is able to remove his headset with little difficulty. Taking off his own, Gottlieb insists that he's completely fine, but he then runs and throws up into a toilet he finds as part of the landfill. Once he's finished, they both realize they have to warn everyone that the plan is not going to work as is. At that very moment, the Jaegers are dropped into the water and, after sealing all the ports, submerge beneath the surface, trudging along the ocean floor. On the command deck, Herc warns the pilots that the two Kaiju, named Scunner and Raiju, are still in circle formation nearby. As the Jaegers head towards a cliff in the ocean floor that they'll have to jump down, they note how the water is so murky that visibility is basically zero. Something swims past the screen off to Gypsy Danger's right, which they're warned about, but when Raleigh looks, he doesn't see anything. Choi then tells them that another, the fastest Kaiju ever, is flanking them on the left, but again, Raleigh is unable to see it because of its speed. Chuck tells them to keep their focus on the drop, which is straight ahead, while up on the surface, Geiszler and Gottlieb arrive back at Shatterdome. The Jaegers make the jump and continue towards the Breach, which is now 400 meters away, only to be informed that the Kaiju have stopped. Pentecost stops Eureka, wondering what the Kaiju are up to, but Chuck is intent upon doing what they need to do. Herc also insists that they hurry and do it, when Geiszler and Gottlieb come running in, warning them that it's not going to work. They quickly explain that the Breach only allows Kaiju through, meaning that they're going to have to lock onto one and ride it through; otherwise, the bomb will simply deflect off the Breach like before. Herc then again orders Eureka to make the leap, when Choi detects a third Kaiju emerging from the Breach. It's a triple event, just as Gottlieb had predicted, and the Kaiju in question is the first ever Category 5.
With that, the Hammerhead shark-like Kaiju known as Slattern, swims up from the Breach and approaches Eureka, letting out a screech as he does. Pentecost and Chuck prepare for battle, whipping out the Jaeger's large blades. Gypsy approaches and prepares to aid in the battle, when Scunner blindsides the Jaeger from the left. It gets shoved backwards and headbutts the Kaiju, managing to wrestle him to the ground and put him in a headlock. At the same time, Slattern sends Eureka flying backwards, slamming up against a rocky outcropping on the ground. Gypsy deploys its chain sword and prepares to stab Scunner, when Raiju comes in from behind and bites the Jaeger's right arm off. Scunner takes the advantage and slams Gypsy down, biting at it, while Raiju bites the arm still in his mouth in two as he swims. Gypsy then deploys its other chain sword, stabbing Scunner through the head and attempting to force him into a nearby thermal vent; Scunner, however, manages to back up and fling Gypsy off of him. The two of them face off, when Gypsy is warned that Raiju is coming straight at them at full speed. Raleigh and Mako then hold their chain sword out and, starting with the mouth, they slice Raiju completely in half down the length of his body. Over at Eureka, Chuck tells Pentecost that the release for the bomb is jammed and that the hull is compromised. Before they can do anything, Slattern charges at them, slamming them through a rock and skidding them along the ocean floor. They both do a turn, with Slattern then slamming Eureka along to the side while getting sliced about his neck, enabling them to get free. Pentecost and Chuck then stab Slattern in both of his armpits with their blades, lift him up, and fling him off. He sinks to the ocean floor, both pits bleeding profusely, and he lets out a scream that gets Scunner's attention, prompting him to come to his aid. With both Kaiju converging on Eureka, Gypsy attempts to help but Pentecost orders them not to, saying that they have to take the Jaeger to the Breach and use its nuclear core to finish the job. Raleigh complies and then, taking his hemlet off, Pentecost tells Mako that she can finish the fight and that she'll always be able to find him in the Drift.
Pentecost and Chuck turn Eureka around to face Slattern, just as Scunner arrives to help his fellow Kaiju. Pentecost tells Chuck that they can clear a path for Gypsy so they can reach the Breach, i.e. detonate their payload, and Chuck says, "Well, my father always said, 'If you have the shot, take it.'" He adds that fighting alongside him was a pleasure and, as Scunner prepares to attack, they throw the switches that charge up the bomb. He then charges at them, along with Slattern, and Mako manages to give Pentecost one final goodbye before they explode just as the Kaiju reach them. The explosion is enormous, sending a shock-wave across the ocean floor and Gypsy has to use its sword to brace itself against it. They're then hit by a backlash explosion, throwing their systems into critical mode, and they're also leaking fuel and their right leg is crippled. Deciding to finish it, they grab Scunner's carcass and drag it towards the Breach, only to be confronted by the wounded but still alive Slattern right at the edge. They fire Gypsy's rear jets, propelling them at Slattern and preparing to bash him in the head. Instead, he grabs the Jaeger but they follow that up by stabbing him through the head with their chain sword, as they go over the edge and head down the fissure towards the Breach. Slattern swings one of his two tails around and stabs Gypsy repeatedly in the back while also tearing at it with his claws, knocking Mako's oxygen down by half. At Shatterdome, Choi tries to reroute it, while Raleigh purges the heat shaft, blasting Slattern in the torso with a streak of fire that eventually blasts out his back, finishing him off. They then reach the Breach and pass through it, entering the biomechanical passage to the world of the Precursors. Pulling the chain sword out, Gypsy floats in the void, while in the cockpit, Raleigh detaches his oxygen line and gives it to Mako, who's quickly running out of air. He tells her that he can finish it alone and, ignoring Choi telling him to initiate the core meltdown and get out, activates the mechanism that places her in the escape pod housed in the roof of the cockpit. The pod is ejected out of the Jaeger and back out through the Breach, while Raleigh tells him that he's initiating the reactor override. But, things become complicated when he sees that the trigger is offline, meaning he has to it manually.
Raleigh detaches himself and fumbles for the manual switch, as Gypsy heads down through the lower levels of the Breach, which open up for it to pass through. Raleigh gets knocked off-balance by but he keeps going, crawling towards the hatch with the switch, while Gypsy clears the Breach and enters the Precursors' universe. He manages to initiate the manual override, which will lead to a meltdown in less than a minute, and prepares to be placed into the other escape pod. At this point, the Precursors have noticed Gypsy's arrival and watch as it floats downwards, as Raleigh activates a thruster that has the Jaeger float in mid-air. He's then placed into the pod and it's ejected back up through the Breach, when Gypsy's reactor melts down and the machine explodes, destroying everything around it, including the watching Precursors. At Shatterdome, they see that the Breach is collapsing and Herc sends out the choppers to rescue Mako and Raleigh. After they take off, Mako's pod hits the surface and the top pops off. She sits up and removes her helmet, looking around frantically. At Shatterdome, Choi says he's tracking Raleigh's pod but is not picking up any vital signs. Said pod then hits the surface across from Mako and she jumps into the water and swims over to it. Climbing up on it, she opens the hatch and checks Raleigh, who hasn't awoken. She tells those at Shatterdome that she can't find his pulse and they're reluctant to tell her that they're not picking up one themselves. Choi tries to comfort her by telling her that the sensors might not be working, but she holds Raleigh up and tearfully embraces him, begging him not to go. Initially, it seems all hope is lost, but then, Raleigh wheezes out, "You're squeezing me too tight." He coughs as she lets go and tells her that he couldn't breathe. The two of them then laugh, while everyone at Shatterdome celebrates. Herc announces to the base that the Breach is sealed and orders them to stop the war-clock, which causes them all to cheer even louder. Back on the ocean, Raleigh and Mako share an embrace as the choppers arrive for them, and then the credits start rolling. In the middle of them, there's a moment where Hannibal Chau cuts his way out of the baby Kaiju's corpse and asks, "Where is my goddamn shoe?!"
The music score, composed by Ramin Djawadi, is another aspect of the film that I have major mixed feelings about it. None of the music is bad by any means; it's just that, aside from the main theme, the rest of it I find to be rather forgettable. Said main theme is really awesome, with a very catchy, badass-sounding beat that successfully plays up the heroic, grandiose aspects of the Jaegers, especially Gypsy Danger, and I like how it's fiddled with here and there to fit the emotion of the moment, be it bigger than life or quiet and melancholy, like when Raleigh is working on the construction of the Alaskan coastal wall early on. I also really like the song, Drift by RZA and Blake Perlman, that's built around it and plays over the first part of the ending credits. But, other than that, none of the other themes came across as all that distinctive to me. Again, they're composed of good music and fit all of the necessary requirements, from big and monstrous to quiet and emotional and to downright strange and quirky, but if you were to ask me to describe or hum the way they sounded, I'd be unsure of what to do. That's all I can say, really: the various pieces of the score fit the scenes they were put to but, other than the main one, they left no concrete impression (I feel the same way about Djawadi's score to the first Iron Man but there, even the main theme is a tad forgettable).
Pacific Rim may be a flawed movie but it's definitely an entertaining one and has a lot of heart to it. On the downside, the human characters, despite some of them being played by good actors, are pretty two-dimensional and basic, especially the two young leads, and the drama and their conflicts aren't as effective as they could be; there are sections that some may find to be a little bit slow, especially the middle of the film after the opening prologue; at 131 minutes, the sheer length may turn people off; the Kaiju, despite some of them being pretty cool, could have had a little more variety to them; and the music score, aside from the main theme and the song based around it, is kind of forgettable. But, what makes it work are the really exciting action scenes that capture that childhood joy of watching giant robots beating up giant monsters, the spectacular, richly colorful visuals and sets, the very impressive effects work, the various concepts pertaining to the Kaiju and the Jaegers, the world that the movie creates, particularly in how humanity grows to accept the existence of these titans, a real feeling of fun and adventure throughout, and, most importantly, an undeniable affection on the director's part for the Japanese giant monster genre as a whole. As someone who has loved these movies ever since I was a really little kid and got mocked for it at various points in my life, it's very vindicating to see a director as acclaimed as Guillermo del Toro acknowledge their worth with a big love letter like this. If you're a fan as well, you should definitely give it a watch; it's very unlikely that you won't have a good time.