The effects here are terrific. From a technical perspective it is hard to imagine they could have done it any better than they did. And yet. It was hard for me to be all that interested in action sequences involving giant metal creatures sort of reminiscent of Iron Man on steroids and great giant lizards. As fantastic as the work in creating these battles was, I still thought the film lagged whenever action started.
When the film focused on people, I thought it was stronger, though it was surely still flawed. Idris Elba is good as Stacker Pentecost, the forlorn, measured leader of the jockey/pilots. He brings such powerful stillness that his most measured movements and careful expressions/gestures offer emotional weight. I didn’t much like his “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse” speech (though I think he started it well), but otherwise, I think his performance was very good.
Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako are also strong. Kikuchi was a bit better, probably, as she was able to portray a touch more vulnerability and humanity than Hunnam, but the latter is good as well. I wish their characters had been developed a bit more purposefully.
Stacker’s decision at the end of the film, I think, could have carried more emotional weight. I wish they had lingered on him a little longer, so that we could feel the moment more.
I also wonder if the film might have been better if the two leads had paid a greater price at the end.
I’d say this one was okay, but that it suffered (in much the way I remember Transformers suffering) from epic battle sequences focused too much on effect-driven machines/creatures and too little on people.