Filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro has a reputation among film-buffs as the go-to guy for creative creature design, bringing to every one of his films a level of imagination and wonder that you rarely see in films these days. In Pan’s Labyrinth he combined this childlike sense of discovery with a constant pervading feeling of dread, and created one of my favorite movies of the decade. In the Hellboy films he melded this sense of creepy-ass design (the faceless angel of death from Hellboy II) with a wonderful sense of humor (Hellboy fighting a monster with one hand while he holds a box of kittens in the other). All in all, Del Toro is like a kid in a sandbox, building and discovering, always look for cool new toys to play with.
And what cooler toys are there than giant monsters and robots? Especially when they fight each other? Pacific Rim, Del Toro’s latest Kaiju masterpiece, is a long way off, not coming out until next summer. However, he blessed the nerds of Comic-Con with his presence, bringing the very first footage from his film, along with his delightful and eclectic cast, including Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Rinko Kikuchi, and Charlie Day.
The concept behind Pacific Rim is simple: In the future, giant monsters known as Kaiju have decimated the world, and the only weapon that mankind has against them is the Jaegers, giant robots that can only be controlled by two pilots at a time. Then the Kaiju and the Jaegers fight a bunch. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but the short reel of footage that we saw was spent mostly showing off the Jaegers. They look gorgeous, and Del Toro pointed out that the idea was that they not move like humans, but like the giant machines that they are, which he definitely pulled off. We didn’t get much of a look at the Kaiju, although the glimpses we did get were awesome, but Del Toro assured us that there were dozens of them in the film, all with different designs and abilities.
The most triumphant moment of the panel came when one giant-robot fan asked what kind of weaponry the Jaegers were going to have, and did a dance of joy when Del Toro announced that were were going to be capable of that old tried-and-true robo-favorite, the Rocket Punch.
All in all, Pacific Rim panel put a movie that most people had not heard of yet onto their radars, while providing a quick fix for everyone who feels like it’s been too long since they’ve seen a giant robot punch a giant monster in the face. Personally, I can’t f*cking wait.