“Pacific Rim” (PG-13): Maybe truly dedicated teen fans of sci-fi/horror/action movies will find something to love in “Pacific Rim.” But with all the interchangeable hero types and computer-generated 3-D effects, this mess of a movie even mutes the charisma of an actor as strong as Idris Elba. Perhaps intended by director/co-screenwriter Guillermo del Toro as a tribute to those 1950s “Godzilla” films from Japan, “Pacific Rim” misses. The director has brought art and profundity to the horror genre (“Hellboy,” PG-13, 2004; “Pan’s Labyrinth,” R, 2006; “Cronos,” R, 1993), but not this time.
We learn in a garbled prologue (much of the dialogue is unintelligible) that a futuristic Earth has been under attack by enormous dinosaurlike alien monsters called Kaiju. They come from a gash in the Earth’s crust beneath the Pacific. The Kaiju destroy cities, gobbling up humans as they go. The world has developed the Jaeger Program – robotic warriors as tall as skyscrapers – to fight the monsters. Pairs of human “pilots” stand at virtual controls inside the Jaegers, melding their minds to guide the robots in battle. But the ever-stronger Kaiju have been defeating them, and the program has been defunded. Governments are building giant walls around cities for protection (yeah, that’ll work). Marshal Pentecost (Elba), head of the Jaeger Program, continues it anyway. He recruits former Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who lost his own brother in a disastrous battle, to lead a mission aimed at detonating a nuclear bomb in the Kaiju’s lair. Becket bonds with a pretty fledgling pilot (Rinko Kikuchi) and also butts heads with a resentful one (Robert Kazinsky). The bland characters make virtually no impression, drowned out as they are by endless, eardrum-shattering battles.
The mayhem between giant monsters and giant robots shows much architectural destruction and the disappearance of many humans, but we see little blood. The pilots operating the Jaegers sustain injuries, but nothing graphic. The script contains little profanity. One character has a terminal illness and experiences nosebleeds.
“Despicable Me 2” (PG): Kids 6 and older will get a charge and a good giggle out of this 3-D sequel. It’s missing the dark humor that hung too heavily over the first act of the original animated film (“Despicable Me,” PG, 2010), and it is the better for it. The pointy-nosed, spindly-legged former villain Gru (voice of Steve Carell) has happily adopted the orphan girls Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher), and given up evil. In fact, his mad scientist, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), bored with inventing fart guns to amuse the girls and Gru’s googly-eyed, banana-yellow minions, decides to leave. Enter an amusingly clumsy secret agent (and potential love interest for Gru) named Lucy (Kristen Wiig) from the Anti-Villain League. Instead of just asking Gru to work with them, she abducts him and takes him to their headquarters. She and her boss, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), want Gru to infiltrate a shopping mall as the owner of a cupcake store so he can trace the source of a serum that turns benign creatures into monsters. Then, undercover at the mall, Gru meets a restaurateur named Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), who reminds him of a onetime villain, El Macho (also Bratt). Eduardo’s son Antonio (Moises Arias) becomes Margo’s boyfriend, which drives Gru crazy with worry. Plus, his hilarious minions, with their slaptsick antics and garbled language, start disappearing.
A bad guy and his new serum turn a bunny, and later some of Gru’s yellow minions, into big, jagged-toothed purple monsters. Some kids, especially under-6s, may find this unsettling, especially in 3-D. A huge shark bares its teeth to Lucy and Gru while they’re in a mini-submarine. Gru remembers how unpopular he was as a kid. We see one minion’s bare behind.