After (to what I believe was a creative) departure from ‘The Hobbit’, Guillermo Del Toro makes his first film since 2008’s ‘Hellboy 2’, with ‘PACIFIC RIM‘. Channelling a mixture of Japanese Kaiju movies (‘Godzilla’ etc*) and other monster features like ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. And then fusing it with Japanese Anime from ‘Akira’, ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ to ‘Gundam Wing’, Del Toro’s latest has had a horrible time of being marketed to some 14 year old teenage boy as some poor-man ‘Transformers’ knock off, fighting monsters to soft rock music (well ok maybe the soft rock stuff does actually happen). As it’s been the case a lot already this Summer, this is another Blockbuster marketed completely wrong. This isn’t some shitty Michael Bay robot film, instead there’s something, which too some could argue, as the most entertaining Blockbuster of the Summer so far. This is really shown by the heart, vibrancies and sheer feeling of joy which Del Toro deploys to tell his story.
Now as mentioned in my last paragraph, the marketing is all wrong (look at ‘Man of Steel with how people called it ”Crap” because it wasn’t what they expected as it wasn’t a Nolan directed film as to what it was suggested). Perhaps it’s been marketed like this to disguise the lack of ”star power” (it’s headlined by Idris Elba (with his amazing speeches), some ‘Eastenders’ alumni (Rob Kazinsky), ‘Horrible Bosses’ Charlie Day and briefly Ron Pearlman). To repeat myself it is the fundamental problem here as there’s something more diverse and vibrant, based at a larger audience base then of a 14 year old boy. While, yes this will not be for everyone, this can be exemplified by the fact that the lead Japanese female character isn’t just some ”Damsel-in-Distress”, archetype which you might be lead to believe. But instead she more a heroine, who has the most interesting backstory of all the characters. And it’s content like this which the films trailers just play down.
Again it’s not for everyone – certain audiences might find it hard to relate with the almost ”token” wrote characters (goofy scientist sidekicks etc). Del Toro’s passion could alienate some audiences (it’s evident he’s drawing on his personal love of the genre) and admittedly the first act does take time to get going. And while yes things do get meaningless destroyed at times (a current Hollywood trend), you can’t help but think – this is the best giant robot action out of Hollywood. And something Michael Bay should learn from. It’s (again) a shame Warner Bros. just didn’t have the confidence to market what actually the film is. And some of Del Toro’s more visual pulpiness and creativity might not be shown as much, but it could be more down the fact this is a big budgeted Blockbuster film.
Personally it’s something far more diverse and enriching then it has any right to be. Not only does it bring a robot fighting film looking at sex and Geopolitics, but also war, propaganda and media satire. It makes you wonder with all these themes if Paul Verhoeven, back in his prime would have made this.
*Imagine if Akira Kurwasawa directed a ‘Godzilla’ film