It’s good to have Guillermo Del Toro back in the director’s chair once again. The past few years have not been very kind to the Mexican filmmaker’s career: he turned over directing duties on The Hobbit to Peter Jackson after laboring on pre-production for several years and most recently saw his long-cherished H.P. Lovecraft adaptation In the Mountains of Madness cancelled over concerns from the studio that the film would not be accessible enough to audiences to justify making the $100 million budgeted, R-rated horror epic.
Waiting in the wings for the director was a sci-fi action project set up at Warner Bros. called Pacific Rim, the plot of which has mostly been kept a secret until recently. It has been common knowledge for quite some time that the plot of the movie would involve humans battling giant monsters with the use of huge robots and the recently-released plot synopsis confirms that, and then some.
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes-a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)-who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
The prospect of a mega-budget Destroy All Monsters-meets-Robot Jox action spectacular is a promising one for sure, even if it does look like a step backward career-wise for its gifted director. But after his Hobbit departure and the collapse of the Lovecraft movie I suppose Guillermo Del Toro is hungry for a tentpole blockbuster to re-energize his career and give him the clout to make smaller, quirkier projects closer to his heart. When Microsoft partnered with Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Peter Jackson in 2005 to make a movie based on their Halo video game franchise, Del Toro’s name was the first to be mentioned as a possible director, and even though that news bit turned out to be little more than wishful thinking it’s fascinating to imagine the kind of movie he would have made.
Personally I’m just happy that Del Toro is back doing what he does best, making cool genre movies. He’s too good a filmmaker to be sitting on the sidelines forever as one beloved project after another burns to a crisp in the fires of Development Hell.
Pacific Rim, which was written by Clash of the Titans remake scribe Travis Beacham, also stars Idris Elba (Prometheus), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses), Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek), and frequent Del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman (Hellboy). The film opens on July 12, 2013.