Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Trans-Four-mer: why does Pacific Rim looks like a quartet of other films welded together?
“Go big or go extinct’ is the tagline for Guillermo del Toro’s new movie Pacific Rim, a snappy phrase for the supersize generation, where bigger is supposed to be better.
Back in the summer of 1998, posters for Godzilla screamed a similar soundbite: ‘size does matter’.
Maybe, but monsters can be as big as you like in these ground-rattling, Imax-friendly days, but without a decent script and a likeable cast, such films can be dead in the water.
Thankfully del Toro is one of the most creative, original film-makers working in Hollywood at the moment, and has been since he made breakthrough movie Cronos more than a dozen years ago.
I’m proud of the fact my first date movie with my wife was Hellboy, a film I never tire of watching, while his arthouse offerings The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth deserve every bit of praise thrown at them.
So when I heard he was making Pacific Rim, a multi-million dollar sci-fi epic about giant mechanoid warriors fighting huge monsters, my first thought was ‘Robot Jox versus Godzilla’.
“Robot what?” you may quite rightly say.
Well, back in the 1980s, cult film-maker Stuart Gordon, the man behind icky horror classics Reanimator and From Beyond, helmed a low budget fantasy epic about warriors in giant mechanoid suits who square off against one another in vast arenas. It was ‘Rocky with rivets’ if you like.
Inspired by the Transformers toyline (17 years before Michael Bay turned the idea into a multi-billion dollar franchise) it crashed and burned at the box office.
Given the fact Iron Man 3 made around $1.1billion worldwide, it’s little wonder Hollywood money men are falling over themselves to find another project in which guys in mechanical suits spend a lot of screen time trading blows.
With Gareth Edwards, maker of low budget cult hit Monsters, now hard at work on a new version of Godzilla, there are big hopes that can succeed where Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version failed.
If anyone can stitch together assorted genres such as robot warriors and Godzilla-style monsters then it’s Del Toro, the man who perhaps wisely dropped out of The Hobbit after months of pre-production to work on this epic instead. (A version of HP Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness also fell by the wayside).
Given the fact Peter Jackson’s opening movie in the Tolkien trilogy was a bit of a let down, let’s hope Guillermo can work his magic on this mecha-monster mash up.
Naturally it comes with a rallying speech provided as standard in all fantasy epics these days, though given the fact Idris Elba is the brilliantly named Stacker Pentecost inspiring the troops, it’s worth ignoring that nagging sense of déjà vu from Independence Day and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.