Have you ever though about how major world events impact movie trends? American prohibition inspired countless gangster films, just as Cold War espionage inspired James Bond flicks. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – introducing the world to the horror of atomic power – a legacy of giant, irradiated monsters was born. In the US, movie screens were flooded with giant mutant insects that terrorized small towns and tossed tanks and soldiers around like they were…well, ants. But in Japan, nuclear mishaps created Kaiju, or literally “strange beast.” The first Kaiju, Godzilla, is probably the most famous, but there’s also Gamera, Mothra, Rodan, and many more. In Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Pacific Rim, he is blending this fine film legacy with another Japanese sci-fi genre, Mecha, which are enormous robotic suits piloted by humans (Megazord, Gundam). The result is one of summer’s biggest blockbusters; pun intended.
Here’s the premise: These giant Kaiju have emerged from a mysterious portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Mankind has fought back, but suffered huge losses. To battle back from the brink, scientists have built Mecha controlled by two pilots who meld their minds together so they can work the gargantuan machine. Still, we continue to lose, but one crew has been assigned to make a last ditch effort to drive back the monsters forever. On the surface, it seems like another Hollywood monster movie; but, if you read the latest from Eventful’s Director Series earlier this week, you’d know that Guillermo del Toro doesn’t conform to established genres. While there will be plenty of action and fighting that demolishes entire cities, it also focuses heavily on the people inside the suits.
In Pacific Rim, the huge Mecha, called Jaegers (similar to the German “Jäger” for “hunter”) are so large that it takes the neural capacity of two humans to operate it. This means that two pilots must meld their minds together, sharing all their hopes, fears and memories. In the same way that two pilots must come together to control a Jaeger, the rag tag group of soldiers assigned to prevent the apocalypse must overcome their different backgrounds to work as a group. This is especially true for the film’s main pilots, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) Both have suffered great personal losses that have embittered them. Hunam has said that, while the film doesn’t feature anything close to a conventional movie fling, the way that Becket and Mori learn to work together is as profound as any love you’ll see on-screen.
Guillermo del Toro has created a terrific blockbuster action film stripped of clichés and redundancy. While many of his previous films take a very serious tone, the director has said that with Pacific Rim, he just had fun. Hopefully you will too, when you see it. Check showtimes and tickets here, and tune in next week for the latest on R.I.P.D., Red 2, The Conjuring and more!