The ultra-accessible Mexican director Guillermo del Toro thrilled audiences in Hall H as he presented new Pacific Rim footage. Prior to Comic-Con, Del Toro kept a tight lid on his latest project and fortunately after his Hall H appearance he joined a small group of reporters at a press conference to dish on what he calls “the biggest giant monster movie ever made." Joining him were Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi.
Here’s a short version of the official synopsis: When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge.
On the teaser presented at Hall H:
What we were able to show, we shot 12 weeks ago. The way I shoot is I shoot and edit at the same time. They know this [looks at cast]. The day after I come in and it’s edited no matter how complicated it is. That allowed me to start picking some shots to prepare for Comic-Con. None of the shots were final final the way they’re going to be in the movie. We still have to torture people a little bit more about flares and drops in the lens.
Del Toro on personal growth:
This movie was a big, big growth for me as director. It represented the chance of, in the same way Pan’s Labyrinth represented the chance to do something in the Spanish language that I tried before but I wanted to show what I could do with more support and freedom, to me Pacific Rim represented that on another scale. As a director, I concentrate on things I felt personally I needed to improve from the other films and concentrate on things I hadn’t tried. I shot the movie very differently in many ways, but with the same philosophy and visual style. It was a huge experience, the best I’d had on any film set in all my life. I enjoyed absolutely every moment and these guys were a big part of it.
Charlie Day on his character:
Day: I want to go back to what you just said. I appreciate greatly that he said this was his best experience [he] had working with a cast, but there’s something twisted in that because you tortured the f*ck out of us.
Del Toro: That’s true. But that’s part of my enjoyment.
Day: Guillermo has made a movie here where we’re saving the world, it’s one of those saving the world films and it’s epic and grand on an action scale. You need big tough guys and strong guys and you need the people you believe could fight and save the world. Then, in the case of my guy, you think, “How is the sort of everyman who doesn’t seem like he can fight his way out of a paper bag, how is that guy going to contribute?” If anything that people latch onto my character is how flawed he is in his attempts to help save the world, really.
Ron Perlman on his character:
I’m a black marketeer in this film. I have this relationship with the powers that be whereby I have the rights to all of these fallen monsters to sell on the black market to rich people who have way too much money and are looking to collect rare and exotic strange sh*t. So I have no morality. I have no moral compass. I have no scruples whatsoever. I’m just a profiteer. In this case a war profiteer, but the war is not among countries, it’s a war against time for all of humanity.
Charlie Hunnam on his character:
I play a guy called Raleigh who, in this world that Guillermo’s created, was a super soldier that pilots these giant robots. Where you meet me in the beginning of the story, I’ve suffered a giant loss. Not only has it killed my sense of self-worth but also my will to fight and to keep on going. Then Rinko and a couple other people bring me out of retirement to try to help in this grand push.
I think that that journey is a very relatable one. I think everybody, at some point in their life, has fallen down and not felt like getting back up, but you have to no matter how difficult it is. I think that’s something that’s pretty easily relatable to audiences. I hope, because the film’s going to be f*cked if it isn’t. Right, Rinko?
On Rinko Kikuchi’s character:
Kikuchi: My role, she’s a young Japanese student and her dream is to be a pilot.
Del Toro: Rinko’s character and Charlie's character both experience a big fall. They both lost a lot in the past and when they meet, one of the ideas in the script is that two people who are really, really hurt can become one, both in the realm of metaphorically or in life. They meet [as] two empty pieces and connect like a puzzle.
Pacific Rim is not a Godzilla film:
Del Toro: I wouldn’t compare it to a Godzilla film. I think that what it is, there are two subgenres that are very popular and very powerful in Japan. One is the kaiju and the other is the giant-robot subgenre. Occasionally they mix together, mostly on TV series, but on film I thought these were things that were part of my nutritional makeup growing up. I literally was raised watching these movies.
On Pacific Rim’s uniqueness:
Del Toro: One of the things I made clear to my designers, every head of department, was we should not reference other movies. We should not re-watch Gamera or re-watch Gojira or re-watch War of the Gargantuans because we love them. So we felt, “Let’s create the world that we’re doing. It falls in here and falls in there, but we should not be doing a referential film.” If things happen, they happen because they’re being made by people who love those genres. But I didn’t want to be postmodern or referential or just belong to a genre. I wanted to create something new, something very, very mad, madly in love with those things.
The footage you see I tried to bring epic beauty to it and drama and operatic grandeur. It happens in many of the battles, many of the quirks are going to be executed a different way than you normally would. I cannot say because I would be spoiling stuff; it’s a year away but there are things in the movie that I’m the proudest of. Part of that is because of the way it was designed, thought of by Callum Greene, and things are not executed the way you necessarily think they would be.
Pacific Rim hits theaters July 12, 2013.
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