Remember how cheesy Godzilla was? Toho Co. Ltd. in 1954 was forced to make a film – any film – in a great big hurry after the initial pass at producing one didn’t gel and the release deadline hadn’t moved. The familiar man-in-a-rubber-suit idea happened because stop motion animation was deemed too costly to use, but the suit itself had its own problems. The poor guy who wore it traded off between dehydration and heat prostration, and he couldn’t breathe either – he could only be in the suit with the head on for about three minutes at a time. There was even a valve built into the suit to drain off the sweat. No kidding. It was that horrific a thing to wear.
Despite all this, Gojira (the Japanese name for the monster) led the box office to become the eighth highest grossing film of all time in Japan up to that point, and the man-in-a-rubbber-suit idea floated 27 more films, a ton of spinoff and ripoff films, a pile of satires, and an enduring legacy in the entertainment industry.
We thought, however, that the whole army fighting the giant monster idea had pretty much run its course, the concept relegated to the near slapstick dustbin of cinematic history.
Boy, were we wrong.
Enter Pacific Rim from of all places, Legendary Pictures & Warner Bros. Studios. And directed by Guillermo del Toro, of all people.
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes — a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) — who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
It’s Godzilla all over again, but updated for a modern audience. The effects are professionally done, and you might look at this and say to yourself, “Yeah, this is what Toho would have done if they’d had the technology and the money to throw at it!” The cheesiness of the idea doesn’t actually diminish with the addition of money. We don’t have to suffer through the slow motion ka-bloing, ka-bloing of the monster suit bouncing off the miniatures as they overcrank the camera to get as many frames of film between one giant foam rubber footfall and the next. But man, it gets close. And the voice of the AI for the Jaeger suits? If you’ve ever played the video games Portal or the sequel Portal 2, you’ll recognize it as GLADoS, the villian(ess) from the game. It sure sounds like a dead ringer to us.
All this said, we have to admit a certain guilty pleasure as we watch this trailer, and it does what trailers are meant to do – it makes us want to see more. Enough more to actually want to pay for a ticket to see it in the theater? That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Pacific Rim is slated for simultaneous release in U.K. & American theaters on July 12, 2013.
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