Guillermo del Toro has been exciting fans about his giant mecha movie since early 2012 when the first extended session with actors and the cherubic director in Hall H at Comic-Con International shed new light on the then mysterious movie. Guillermo’s films are usually crafted with an excruciating attention to detail and feature protagonists that embody wonder, heroism and honor. Children’s stories, comedies and fairy tales used to be his forte but more recently the Spanish born writer/director has branched out to tackle stories with darker underpinnings and more complicated characters.
His new film Pacific Rim will pit towering mechanized contraptions each having two pilots against otherworldly monsters who’ve passed into our world through a dimensional portal deep in the ocean. At first the story presented to press and fans sounded vaguely familiar especially to the comic book, film, and literature aficionados that listened to the panel in Hall H. Plenty of American literature, Japanese anime/manga, and modern science fiction all have similar stories of giant monsters. Most notably Japanese cinema has tinkered for decades with the idea of different animals overgrown to punish humans who’ve foolishly upset the balance of nature.
American writer H.P. Lovecraft went so far as to detail a race of vengeful gods who would return to wreak havoc on earth through a similar dimensional portal. Guillermo promised us all a closer look when the first trailer was due to drop later in December. In late November viral teasers hit Youtube on the user rickglb455’s account with two videos paving the way for the “Kaiju” invasion. On December 12th when the first hints of the trailer leaked out onto the web the noticed similarities began to pile up as giant mechs battled monsters in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and people started comparing del Toro’s movie with Cthulhu, Evangelion, Godzilla and even Jurassic Park.
It has been nearly 4 months since the first official trailers for Pacific Rim dropped after months of exclusive previews were shown at the conventions of 2012. These first looks were hype machines designed to get people excited with pumped up cuts on action and gnashing robotic sound effects. In the background GlaDOS' voice announced our progression through the quick 2 minute action sequences and prepared us for for a ride unlike anything we'd ever experienced. It could be said that these were trailers specifically cut with last year's moviegoing audience in mind.
Fast forward to May 2013 and now we're only about a two months from Pacific Rim's July release day and it's already shaping up to be a heated competition between this year's Summer Blockbusters. In order to beat the competition and make the most dough Pacific Rim will have to compete in a field where Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, The Hangover Part III and Elysium are all fighting for the same money.
This cut has a much more gradual runup and features music from the final version of the film instead of hard to distinguish sound effects blaring every 3 seconds. It looks like at first we succeeded wildly against the Kaiju using our gigantic robots called "Jaegers". We were winning fights with multiple alien contacts outside cities all around the world. Very quickly the Kaiju overwhelmed our best weapons almost putting our best defenses down for good. Ralieigh picks up narration about halfway through the cut and says that even though we were knocked down and the Kaiju "counted on the humans to hide & fail, they never considered we would rise to the challenge".
In the final 50 seconds of the 2 minute 38 second trailer we are shown dozens of the best shots from the film including many never-before-seen clips giving a glimpse of Gypsy Danger walking through downtown Tokyo. Possibly the most exciting footage includes the main Jaeger fighting a flying Kaiju while wielding an improvised weapon. What's that weapon? A boat-sword. You heard that right a giant sword made from a cargo ship that Gypsy Danger apparently plucked out of the nearby bay. Nothing more has to be said, any movie that features a giant robot swinging around a boat has me in line on day one.
This Viral Teaser preceded the release of the first trailer by about two weeks and showed short newsreel type clips of a giant monster attack on The San Francisco Bay. The monster was supposedly downed by fighter jets and missile attacks providing a way for the world powers to study the creatures that would soon be invading Earth. The announcer eerily prays that there could be no further destruction; that this would be the last attack. But then there wouldn’t be a movie would there? Well maybe there’d be something like Cloverfield but that isn’t this Giant Monster Movie.
Another Teaser was dropped the same day and shows a new emergency broadcast bumper specially created for the now supposedly commonplace Kaiju attack. The test also details that if this had been a real emergency broadcast that it would’ve been proceded by further information or evacuation plans.
What dropped over night on December 11th shocked viewers and critics as this was their first look into Guillermo del Toro’s vision of what has already existed in many popular culture stories. To take on a project like this a writer or director must first be comfortable with tackling a mythos that many fans have ingrained in their head. On the surface the purposeful director was almost admitting that he loved the content and didn’t care where people thought it might be sourced from, but he also needed to show the paying public that it was functional and exciting. Let’s just say he knocked it out of the park while also including a number of nods towards the nerd/geek crowd.
By all accounts the beginning of the trailer starts out with a rousing narration from our protagonist Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) who talks of aliens from another world who had counted on coming to a cowering planet to subjugate. At first it looks as though it might be a simple competitor for the Giant Monster Movie genre or at the very least a Godzilla clone, then Raliegh finishes his somber introduction and we’re introduced to the heavy duty machinery. Jaegers are humankind’s answer to mammoth hostile alien lifeforms and right from the get go we’re shown that they need two pilots to function properly. There’s at least four of these robots from different countries/superpowers who’ve funded their construction and Ralieigh’s piloting one of them with another American at first.
Monsters pop out of the portal in the ocean, they attack port cities, pilots are loaded into Jaegers, Jaegers are airdropped into the ocean, and the fighting commences with metal crunching against giant alien scales. Near the end of the trailer we get the idea that things aren’t going well for the mechas and their pilots during the first half of the film. Bots are getting thrown around like rag dolls, they also get their arms ripped off and we even get a shot of one of Ralieigh’s partners being lifted from his/her attachments while knocked unconscious. Ralieigh has even been shown training with the Japanese pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) so is it possible that they both lose a partner and must team up in the aftermath of an initial defeat?
The Qualcomm sponsored Pacific Rim trailer dropped at CES 2013 almost a month after its older brother (which had already amassed over 7 million views on Youtube in a 24 day period). The new trailer was packaged with a recut truncated opening and showed footage of at least two other Jaeger teams in full gear ensconced within their mecha. This version is cut with a different soundtrack from the first that features more timed guitar riffs and a drum solo ramping up to the fight between a Jaeger nicknamed Gipsy Danger and a rhino-esque monster.
As far as story hints go this trailer shows at least two different suits that Ralieigh will wear over the course of the film: his initial white armor and later a black armor set more like Mako Mori’s dudds. This further reinforces that in some capacity one of the Jaeger teams will be cut in half and pieced with a team from a different country. Considering the two pilots must work in tandem through a neural “bridge” or link the partner changes could be a main sticking point of the story as the new team learns to work together.
This trailer closes in much the same way the December 12th version does with Idris Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost delivering a firm announcement that “today we’re canceling the apocalypse”. I hadn’t noticed it before but Stacker’s also wearing a pilot's suit so it stands to reason he’s got a partner and a Jaeger all his own that will feature prominently in the film alongside Ralieigh and Mako’s units.
If you’re a gamer you’ll also notice GLaDOS has a part in both trailers as the voice for much of the Jaeger launch control systems. Guillermo del Toro was quoted recently in The Toronto Sun as saying that he “wanted very much to have her, because I’m a big Portal fan”. Sadly he says the trailer was supposed to be a full forced hommage whereas the final version of the film will still include the now iconic voice but it will be toned down a bit. Ellen McLain is credited with the VO from the movie so here’s hoping del Toro listens to fans and pumps the GLaDOS filter up to 11 for the final release.