Director Guillermo del Toro is famous for making movies about terrible, wonderful creatures, but the monsters in his latest flick, "Pacific Rim," are quite literally out of this world.
Here, the fight for survival has never been bigger as the deadly monsters known as Kaiju rise out of the Pacific Ocean and do battle with the human-powered robots called Jaegers. The rest is just icing on the giant cake, as Earth bands together to defend itself from total annihilation.
But before you go racing off to the movie theater with your Jaeger or Kaiju mask in tow, here are 10 things you should know about the biggest robots vs. monsters flick of the summer.
1. You'll Wish Your Eyes Were Bigger.
Some new releases absolutely must be seen in the theater while others are fine to watch on demand. Unless you have some sort of professional-grade movie theater in your house, "Pacific Rim" is one of the movies you'll want to save your ducats to see in 3D IMAX (or the biggest screen you can find).
2. Rinko Kikuchi Rocks!
If you don't know Rinko Kikuchi from her Oscar-nominated turn in "Babel," or her role as the silent-but-deadly (and so stylish!) Bang Bang in "The Brothers Bloom," it's time you get acquainted. Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba might get top billing, but Kikuchi kicks major butt as Mako Mori, a young woman who desperately wants to pilot a Jaeger. She's got plenty of fight in her, physically and emotionally, but for reasons to be revealed, her mentor and boss (played by Elba) won't let her get into the action. She proves she's up to the job by kicking Hunnam's butt first in a wicked stick-fighting scene. She also rocks a slick bob with blue streaks like nobody's business.
3. The Body Count is Big But Not Bloody.
OK, let's be honest. Lots and lots of people die in "Pacific Rim." However, the most "blood" spilled is the weird, electric blue Kaiju goo. The Kaiju and the Jaegers crunch cities beneath their fists, feet, and tails so it's definitely scary stuff for little kids, but it's not bloody in the same way some superhero flicks are these days.
4. Is It Dusty In Here?
There's a heart-tugging moment or two in "Pacific Rim" -- or at least it will tug the heart strings of anyone who cries at, say, long distance commercials. See, each Jaeger requires two pilots, one for each hemisphere of the Jaeger's "brain." They have to be neurally linked to each other to control the mech they're piloting, and that means the pilots have access to each other's feelings, thoughts, and memories. You might keep it together when the brother of our hero Raleigh (Hunnam) gets yanked out of their mech and chomped on by a Kaiju, but Mako's memories will tickle your tear ducts.
5. More Hannibal Chau, Please.
Ron Perlman appears in "Pacific Rim" as Hannibal Chau, a shady character who trades Kaiju organs on the black market. He sports gold-capped teeth, a slick suit, a gruesome scar or two, barely visible neck tattoos, and shoes with toes so pointed they'd cut you. It's not a big part, but it's perfect. How about a movie devoted to the misadventures of Hannibal Chau?
6. There's a Bulldog Hanging Around For No Good Reason.
Robert Kazinsky, who is also on this season of "True Blood," plays the type of guy who's all hat and no cattle. His Chuck Hansen is a damn good Jaeger pilot, but man, he's a jerk. He does have a cute bulldog, though, and that counts for something. But surely the dog will become a Kaiju canapé, right? That's usually why people have pets in these sorts of movies. But, no. The dog's fine. He's just hanging around. He doesn't even do anything cool like Ripley's cat Jones. What a maroon. (Note: We don't actively want bad things to happen to animals in movies, but introducing a really cute bulldog and then not doing anything with it is like a drooly, smelly version of Chekhov's gun.)
7. A Wall? Really?
The beginning of the film shows that the cycle of sea monster attacks is speeding up, so eventually the folks in charge of the international alliance to kick Kaiju butt decide their funds would be better spent building a really big wall around the coasts that skirt the Pacific Rim. You're fired! All of you! Pack up your tool and go!
8. Idris Elba. Enough Said.
Who would you rather have in charge of a program that sends giant effing robots out to kill equally giant effing ocean beasts? Sylvester Stallone? Tom Cruise? James Van Der Beek? No way. You want Idris Elba, because he looks dapper in his fancy Army blues and in a crazy futuristic suit, and because he has an awesome British accent. And you know it's serious business when he gets really quiet and mad, even if you're a hotshot Jaeger pilot who's used to fighting Kaiju with your mind.
9. Newborn Kaiju.
Yes, you want to see this. No, not all babies are born cute. Definitely not this one. It's so... gooey.
10. Wait Until After the Credits.
Just do it.