Mechs, Monsters and Movie Making Magic
by Maria Layley (@MazLayley)
This week sees the release of the highly anticipated hit of 2013, Guillermo Del Toro’s action packed Pacific Rim. Originally reviewed for the Nerd Machine by Jonathan Pilley earlier this year, this time we are reviewing the specials that are featured on the 2 Disc Blu Ray. For those of you who experienced Pacific Rim in the cinema and hopefully like me thought it was huge, then you will love the specials which include 14 featurettes each delving deeper into Del Toro’s process while creating his monsterpiece.
Described as “a class of his own” by his Pacific Rim leading actor Charlie Hunnam, Guillermo Del Toro’s reputation of being a meticulous and dedicated writer/director precedes him and this is very evident in the special features. Ranging from the larger than life character designs through to the intricate detail of the sets, one specifically too massive to house on the worlds largest soundstage, Del Toro’s involvement in every piece of this massive mecha puzzle was a running theme throughout all the mini monster features.
A quick synopsis of the movie … Think Robot Jox 10.0 … with monsters … and cgi … and small scale models … and full scale Mech heads. Ok so its not like Robot Jox. In fact it’s nothing like anything before and that was Guillermo’s golden rule. NO REFERENCING! He was adamant on not pulling any external referencing from other sources, he wanted Pacific Rim to be pure and in my opinion will be a movie that others will be referencing for years to come – cough Godzilla! Each segment of the special explores the world of both Kaiju and Jaeger alike, showing you the creation, style and symbolism behind each one. Kaiju were separated into 9 forms of animals all attributes based and sourced in nature, with each Kaiju’s defence and power all having some foundation available in smaller form in nature. Otachi, a category IV Kaiju, has not only a physical form that can be adapted to suit its environment, be it water, land or air, but its defence mechanism, a glandular sac that can found in many creatures. Leatherback, a gorilla based category IV Kaiju, has electrical tendrils, not that unlike an eel, and can discharge an Electric Magnetic Pulse, again all based in a realistic and natural design.
Each Jaeger aesthetics, both internal and external, matched that of its culture: Red and gold for Chinese Crimson Typhoon. Red, White and Blue for US Gypsy Danger. Urban Outback for the Aussie Striker Eureka all the while their designs having roots in World War II war machines, including nose art and notches of downed enemies. Working from inside out the designers started with the pistons and gears at the heart of the Mechs, working their way out to the the skin and the facade. Inspired by the Japanese show Space Giants, Del Toro’s vision was one of immense scale, creating a ‘world saving the world story’ on the backdrop of what he calls ‘a mega wrestling match’ between Kaiju and Jaeger. Scale being the operative word here. He created and designed events and then made sure that even the smallest of details mattered, that every time you watched the film you would notice something different. A new piston when a Mech moves its arms or the moped that falls out of one of the dozens of containers used to bring a 250ft monster to its knees…I think it has knees.
Only a very small part of the specials is dedicated to the relationships built, and at times destroyed, within the film. From the paternal issues caused by the military between Chuck and Herc, to the vague and often ambitious Russian relationship. The main focus, if any, was on Mako and Rayleigh battling their pasts while trying to forge a bond build on painful memories. Which brings us to The Drift… moving on. In all seriousness I would have liked a more in-depth feature on The Drift, as the concept behind it is extremely intriguing, I guess I will have to rely on the Pacific Rim Wiki for that.
There are smaller bite sized featurettes such as the bloopers, which were very sweet and slightly Ron Perlman bias (not a bad thing can I add). An epic sized movie requires an equally epic sized soundtrack, courtesy of Ironman and Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi and you get to see in a small way, how they created each characters own theme. But beyond the intricate details, the sometimes side splitting bloopers, for me the thing missing was an insight into the Kaiju creators, but maybe that will be left for the sequel.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Photo credit Andrew Bernard