Far East meets Old West in monstrous 'Pacific Rim'
05:00 AM, Feb 04, 2013
When the monsters attack in director Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, they’ll bring an Old West swagger to the Far East setting.
Yet it’s the entire globe in peril in del Toro’s sci-fi action-adventure (out July 12), which pits 25-story-tall man-made robots against equally sizable creatures that rise from an inter-dimensional rift in the Pacific Ocean, threatening all of humanity.
Del Toro is halfway through finishing the special effects but Pacific Rim is already “the only movie I’ve done where I don’t want it to end, frankly,” says the filmmaker (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), who co-wrote the screenplay with Travis Beacham. And it won’t have to end for now: They’re already working on a sequel, he says.
The director’s monsters are called Kaiju, a Japanese word that translates to “strange beast.” They’re a homage to the destructive stars of Asian films and TV shows that del Toro watched as a kid in Mexico, such as Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman and Frankenstein Conquers the World, which featured the fire-breathing Baragon.
“I grew up with a steady kaiju diet,” the director recalls.
There’s more than just that anomaly in the future world of Pacific Rim, del Toro says. “It’s really creating a world that’s been shaped by two anomalies: the giant monsters and the giant robots we create to fight them.”
Del Toro put a spin on the humans and their robots, called Jaegers, that reflects Westerns as a key inspiration.
Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and other Jaeger pilots are deemed “riders,” and when they move in the suits to put their machines in motion, “we made it a point to put the sound of spurs like a cowboy,” del Toro says.
The Jaeger station is “basically the Alamo,” del Toro says, and there are rangers and marshals within it most notably Marshal Stacker Pentecost, a spiritual, moral leader played by Idris Elba. “He’s not playing second banana. He’s at the center of the conflict. He’s the only guy who cannot give up.”
The director likens the faceoffs between Jaegers and Kaiju to a pair of gunfighters in a duel although the monsters come packing more than just a six-shooter. One of them shoots corrosive lava out of his mouth.
While it’s sometimes hard to choose “because they are like my children,” del Toro’s favorite Kaiju outlaw is a massive, muscular, brawling battering ram of a creature he lovingly refers to as Leatherback.
“I find him very, very endearing. He has a big belly so I identify with him,” del Toro says with a laugh. “He’s no doubt my main man.”