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Immersed in Movies: Guillermo del Toro Talks 'Pacific Rim' Robot Porn (VIDEO)

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood July 5, 2013 at 1:29PM

Guillermo del Toro calls it "robot porn." The Mexican filmmaker was at his geekiest last week at Industrial Light & Magic in San Francisco, dissecting a fierce fight at sea in "Pacific Rim" between his enormous robot Jaegers and Kaiju alien monsters. It was like watching his version of "Raging Bull," as he explained how he staged the fight choreography while getting the right height, weight, speed, and volume in CG. But he was just as effusive about the aesthetics of alternating between gritty and surreal.
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'Pacific Rim'
'Pacific Rim'

However, with a budget gap between del Toro's ambition and ILM's reach, Knoll devised a more efficient pipeline that shed a lot of waste and forced greater front end iteration. "Certain things you do as a director, if you're changing your mind, you're basically opening up an ATM machine that has no end," del Toro quipped. "They made it easier to do the creative iterations on the front end because the back end beauty pass is much more expensive."

Yet del Toro insists that "Pacific Rim" is more fantasy than sci-fi aimed at his inner 12-year-old. In fact, sci-fi doesn't float his boat. "Robots I have a huge boner for. Sci-fi robots I find incredibly moving, collapsing on a beach or being maimed or trying earnestly Golem-like."

But the humanity of "Pacific Rim" comes from "the drift." That's what elevates it beyond the rock 'em sock 'em fun. And the mecha warriors are only as good as the pilots inside them, who wrestle with their emotional demons when they're drifting.

"The idea was: Can we have two characters, who don't trust anyone, trust each other? I actually wanted the flashback scene of Mako [Rinko Kikuchi] to be like a fairy tale of a girl being saved from a dragon by a knight in shining armor, and when [her protector] comes out of the Jaeger, he looks like a knight. The movie's about the largest things and the smallest things, whether it's a fist hitting a window in a building or a giant monster and a little shoe. And I thought there was no other way to understand the Kaiju attack than by having it be the girl [running in the street] who's in the pilot suit. To understand that little girl is fundamental."

And to understand the passion of this lifelong animation geek is fundamental to our enjoyment of "Pacific Rim." It's all about del Toro's personal drift, which is infectious.

This article is related to: Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro, Immersed In Movies, Video, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews , Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.