I was on my feet at the end of the WonderCon/Cinemacon exclusive trailer for Pacific Rim. I was on my feet and clapping and cheering. I was covered in goosebumps.
Hype is a dangerous business. Getting excited about big tentpole movies is, very often, a sucker’s game. More often than not the footage presentations at cons are the best possible presentation for these movies - great out of context moments flying by in a three minute package. Three minutes that add up to the only good stuff in the whole film. It’s possible this could be the case with Pacific Rim, but at this point I’m betting it’s not.
First of all, I now know enough people who have seen the movie and been public with their love for it. People like Rian Johnson, who isn’t exactly a slobbering fanboy. I can also tell when marketing and publicity people are just going through the motions or when they’re really, truly excited for a movie, and Pacific Rim is one that has everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary over the moon. But I also know that this is what Guillermo del Toro has been building up to, that he’s the kind of director who took sub-$100 million budgets and made them look like epic tentpoles, so what he’ll be able to do with an actual blockbuster budget will be nothing less than astounding.
What I saw in Anaheim on Saturday only bolstered my belief. The trailer had lots of incredible moments showcasing both the Jaegers - the giant monster-fighting robots - and the kaiju - the giant monsters - but it all built to a moment so transcendent, so awesome, so fucking incredible that when they showed the trailer again I still got choked up with excitement.
A huge monster stomps through the streets of a city (Hong Kong?), towering above the skyscrapers, smashing everything underfoot. A Jaeger enters the frame, the camera set at a worms-eye view, and as the robot steps into the middle of the shot we see that he is dragging behind him a tanker. A giant fucking boat, which he is dragging along a destroyed avenue like a heavy axe before lifting it up and hoisting it like a bat and smashing the goddamned kaiju straight in the face with it.
A giant robot hit a giant monster in the face with an enormous boat.
The spectacle here is beyond huge. But the Pacific Rim footage also showed the movie has something else going for it. Something along the lines of Idris Elba’s already famous line, ‘Today we are canceling the apocalypse.’ This is a movie about triumph, about overcoming odds; the new trailer has a Charlie Hunnam voice over expaining how the earliest kaiju assaults were successfully defeated, but that the tide of the battle has changed. All hope is not lost: ‘They thought humanity would give up. They didn’t take into account that we’d fight back.’* Triumph of the human spirit AND giant robots fighting giant monsters? I’m in.
Some of the other footage was equally spectacular. We saw some examples of the 12 kaiju in the film, including a gorilla-like one and a Rodan-esque flying monster. There was a shot of what appeared to be a kaiju and a Jaeger in battle IN SPACE**. There was a shot of a Jaeger ripping off a piece of a monster and throwing the chunk - bleeding electric blue blood - over its shoulder.
But that bit with the boat - it’s like a geek dream come true. There is no movie in 2013 that excites me more. In other hands I might be worried - is this all just overblown FX and nothing else? - but with GdT behind it all, I know it’s going to be great. He spent as much time building the world and characters of Pacific Rim as he did the monsters and robots.
Hype is a dangerous business, but I am dangerously fucking hyped about this film.
* I’m paraphrasing that.
**SPOILER: I’m pretty sure this shot is a battle above the kaiju homeworld, which is in a different dimension.