One of the more anticipated (and currently debated) films at Comic-Con 2012 was Pacific Rim, the sci-fi monster movie epic brought to us by fanboy-favorite, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy). The film tells the story of monsters plaguing the Earth, and the giant robots humanity uses to fight back against them. At the center of that struggle are two unlikely pilots - played by Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi - who use a "neural bridge" to link their minds in order to co-pilot an old model robot that could turn out to be humanity's greatest hope.
While at Comic-Con 2012, I had a chance to sit down with Hunnam to talk about Sons of Anarchy season 5, but also touched upon Pacific Rim, the concept of having two minds literally merging, and all the psychological and emotional baggage that process would bring. Scroll down to see what he had to say.
In the film, Hunnam's character, Raleigh Antrobus, is a washed up veteran, while Kikuchi's character, Mako Mori, is a rookie who hardly speaks English. Much of the storyline behind all the blockbuster robots vs. monsters action hinges on the idea of these two polar opposites somehow bridging the gap between their minds and working together - a process Hunnam describes as being reminiscent of a classic love story, given a new sci-fi twist:
Well, there's this whole imminent apocalypse that really distracts from a lot of the psychological stuff going on between them, but it's really more of a process of both of us opening up our hearts again enough to be able to trust somebody; it's a love story without a love story. It's about all of the necessary elements of love without arriving at love itself: I need to trust [Mako] and respect her and open up my mind to her.
It's so fascinating, the whole caveat of how we operate this machine - which is through a neurological bridge - we're neurologically connected. So everything in my head is available to [Mako] - and vice versa. If you imagine that - I mean, we're all very careful about how we present ourselves and what we say, and how much of ourselves we let out. And to just allow someone into your brain, to give them complete access to every thought, and memory, and f*#cked up thing you ever did - and every great thing you ever did - its really a big proposition. And for two very damaged people who have decided they're going to keep it all inside because they're terrible human beings who have made so many mistakes - to go through a process of opening up enough to allow someone access to your head - it's really the heart of this film.
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If you didn't read our coverage of the Pacific Rim Comic-Con Panel (which is analyzed in much more detail on our Comic-Con 2012 Wrap-up Podcast), the footage shown at the convention briefly demonstrated how Raleigh (Hunnam) and Mako (Kikuchi) use both synchronized thought and movement to operate their robot (termed "Jaegers" in the film). It's a process that hardcore anime fans will surely remember from an episode of the similarly-themed anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, in which two robot pilots must overcome their differences and use perfect synchronization to defeat an especially troublesome monster. Check out that sequence below:
Granted, Pacific Rim - while clearly borrowing some elements of Evangelion - will be a different beast (no pun), but it's good to know that there will indeed be some human heart beating beneath all the blockbuster metal vs. monster battles. Personally, I'm looking for something with a little more substance than those Michael Bay Transformers films. If Hunnam's words about the film's heart are true, then Pacific Rim could deliver just that.
Pacific Rim will be in theaters on July 12, 2013. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more from Hunnam as part of our Sons of Anarchy Season 5 preview.