Guillermo del Toro's presentation for “Pacific Rim” at Comic-Con yesterday was brief, but well-played. A lifelong self-proclaimed geek, this is clearly not the man's first rodeo. "I am shitting my pants right now,” joked del Toro as he sat before the packed 6,500 capacity Hall H.
“Pacific Rim” is custom-tailored for the Comic-Con faithful. It is set in a world where giant monsters, known as Kaiju, are attacking and threatening to bring an end to humanity. Giant robots piloted by men and women are the best line of defense the humans have against imminent destruction. Yes, that’s right, big monsters beating the crap out of big robots.
Eager to see what fans thought, del Toro led off with some footage from the film. It’s brief but very fun. The tag line? To fight monsters, we created monsters. The brief reel featured lots of quick and very loud robot vs. monster shots and Idris Elba, who plays General Stacker, commanded a big crowd with the words: "Today we're canceling the apocalypse.” Though it was a tease, the footage did its job quite well and the crowd loved it, with Twitter lighting up Saturday afternoon with the hashtag #holyshit following many of the comments. As always, Guillermo del Toro was quite enthusiastic to talk about the film with fans; here are some highlights of what he had to say.
Guillermo del Toro explained the development of “Pacific Rim”: “We went through the process of directing the movie like fans. We really went and figured out what a movie would be that was an homage to two genres, but also to create something new. To bring a different sense of drama and scale. I can promise you this, the tenor and the tone of the battles is astounding. But at the same time, we wanted the humanity and emotion of being there. We created a world that allowed these monsters and robots to exist and to speculate on what would happen if these things really exist. I really wanted a movie that would create the sensation of an adventure movie and what it would be like to actually be there with these things that are the size of sky scrapers."
2. The robots
“They have two pilots in their head,” del Toro said about how they work. “One pilot shares the responsibility to handle the right hemisphere and the other handles the left hemisphere. A power surge from the robot would be too much for one pilot. They fuse together through memories into one single mind. So it’s a single mind with two pilots and one robot. We have six or seven robots and each of them has a unique ability and each of them is distinguished.”
3. Lots of monsters
Asked whether any of the creatures will be ones from classic lore such as the Loch Ness Monster, del Toro smiles. “No, sorry to disappoint,” he says. “All the ones we created were created specifically for the movie. We designed them from the inside out. We're trying stuff in the animation of the monsters that I haven't seen before. We have flying monsters, we have sea monsters, we have monsters up the wazoo.”
A film featuring giant monsters and giant robots battling and destroying anything and everything in their path might seem likely to have been created largely with computers. But del Toro has always been a fan of practical work who prefers to use CG as an aid rather than a replacement.
“It has plenty of CG,” says del Toro. “But we treat it as we would any other element in the film. I tried to dirty the camera and have it be hit with oil and water. I scratched the lens. I tried to place the creatures in environments like rain and snow and mud so that they appear real. One of the things we were very clear about was no frigging motion capture. I needed the robots to move with gears moving. And same with the monsters. And the monsters need to have personality. So we make one intelligent and evil. Another brooding. You take CG as a thing that will necessitate ten times more work to come alive and you demand it of the people doing it. We rigged the streets with hydraulics so the ground shakes when the monsters walk. You may think it's CG, but it wasn't. We were shaking the entire set.”
"Pacific Rim" hits theaters on July 12, 2013.