Many people who’ve been following development on Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim have pointed out the surface similarities to popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Del Toro’s film pits building-sized robots called Jaegers (controlled by two soldiers who must form an intimate melding of minds, to work in unison) against gargantuan monsters known as Kaiju, who invade Earth through an inter-dimensional rift.
The original Pacific Rim script draft penned by Travis Beacham (a co-writer on Clash of the Titans) has been retooled to better fit del Toro’s interests, according to the fan-favorite filmmaker of Blade II, Hellboy, and Pan’s Labyrinth. Furthermore, del Toro announced at Comic-Con that Pacific Rim does not reuse archetypal monsters from mythology, anime, or Japanese monster cinema (Godzilla movies, being the obvious example).
We’ve nonetheless been operating under the assumption that Pacific Rim serves as a direct homage to those old-fashioned monster films, borrowing stylistic elements and rejuvenating tired tropes from the genre (similar to what Quentin Tarantino does). Del Toro informed Hero Complex that’s not the case, saying:
“I felt there was a chance to do something fresh, something new that at the same time was conscious of the heritage, but not a pastiche or an homage or a greatest hits of everything. One of the first things I did is make it a point to not check any old movies or any other references. Like start from scratch.”
Beacham’s intent, of course, remains open for interpretation, as it’s possible the screenwriter’s original artistic vision was that Pacific Rim would be closer to a live-action NGE movie. Del Toro is renowned for crafting some of the more memorably twisted and demented screen creatures in recent film history; with Pacific Rim, he hopes to maintain his originality while paying respect to the Kaiju sub-genre (and not just copying what’s been done before).
Spanish-language site Uruloki spoke recently with del Toro, where the director elaborated on his intention to produce Kaiju that only loosely imitate the traditional designs featured in Japanese pop culture (while also delivering a final film that’s very much its own beast):
“At [the table for 'Pacific Rim'] were very clear ideas-for example, have the appearance of the Kaiju, admitted to some extent the idea of “man in disguise” or “man in suit” that is vital to the genre. Sticking to the “species” of Kaiju classic admitted in genealogy (the Kaiju flying the Krusty, the Bug, The Reptile, etc, etc) and try to get their textures and morphology were rooted in very real hipertexturas animals but combining textures, textures monumental, almost geological. In every movie I try to bring someone new. And in every project I bring a team member who is making his first big movie and his first feature film because it always brings a fresh perspective. What we do ask is that people do not derive ideas from films already made. I ask you to express what is theirs.”
Del Toro spoke at Comic-Con about some of the tricks he pulled with the camera lens while shooting Pacific Rim, in order to give the CGI-heavy proceedings a more grounded and realistic feel. The filmmaker relied on RED EPIC cameras during production (the same tech Peter Jackson’s using for the Hobbit trilogy), but explained to Collider why he never considered either native or post-converted 3D a viable option:
“Originally there was a discussion that took a long time to overcome that was to make the movie 3D. And I didn’t want to make the movie 3D because when you have things that big… the thing that happens naturally, you’re looking at two buildings lets say at 300 feet [away], if you move there is no parallax. They’re so big that, in 3D, you barely notice anything no matter how fast you move. “To force the 3D effects for robots and monsters that are supposed to be big you are making their [perspective] miniaturized, making them human scale.”
Taking everything del Toro’s saying into consideration, Pacific Rim should easily feel like one of his films, above all else. That’s very much an encouraging (if not downright exciting) thought, given the quality of del Toro’s previous cinematic output
Pacific Rim opens in U.S. theaters on July 12th, 2013.