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Studios Go Gigantor at Comic-Con: 'Pacific Rim,' 'Godzilla,' 'Man of Steel,' 'The Hobbit'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 17, 2012 at 4:29PM

The studios have boxed themselves into a corner. Because you can't just keep piling money into VFX to lure audiences to theaters, as their current (failing) tentpole strategy attests. And digital 3-D isn't exactly an event anymore--both "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Ice Age 4" saw lackluster 3-D performance.
Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel'
Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel'

When Snyder started working on the movie with Nolan and Goyer, he says they decided to work from the comic books and ignore all the other movies. "We had to act as if no films had been made, even though we loved them," said Snyder. "We had to say, 'this is a Superman movie for the first time,' start with that logic." So no John Williams: "Hans Zimmer will do something awesome."

Legendary's hire of Brit indie Gareth Edwards of micro-budget "Monsters" fame to do yet another "Godzilla" is a step in the right direction, as a brief exclusive snippet of monstrous destructive dust-spewing footage dazzled the crowd: "Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds," intones the voiceover. "It's very grounded and realistic," Edwards told Hall H. "What would it be like if this all really happened?"

That's also what Guillermo del Toro said about his big-budget homage to kaiju movies (like "Godzilla"), "Pacific Rim" (July 13, 2013). Written by Travis Beacham, the movie pits giant flying monsters form the deep against massive robot fighters commandeered by a mind-melded pair of pilots (led by Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi). It's all original, Del Toro declared. "You'll see some set pieces that have never been seen on film."

He locked his ace designers in adjoining rooms to concoct the monsters, robots and look of the world. "I wanted them to give 110%," he said, "to use their creativity, passion and madness for fuel to make this movie. When you get a big budget people get crazy or lazy. I wanted to get as close to crazy as I could."

Del Toro hates pristine and fake CG and motion capture; he dirties everything up, hits the camera with oil and water and shaking, even scratches the lens," trying to see the big kaiju "rooted in place and atmosphere and elements, like rain snow and mud." He rigged the streets with hydraulic pavement to bounce cars and buildings, shaking the entire set with physical components. "I want to create a sensation of adventure movie with something the size of a skyscraper, so homongous that it could face a tornado and win."

This article is related to: Superman, Peter Jackson, Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Andy Serkis, Comic-Con, Guillermo Del Toro, Guillermo del Toro

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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.