This afternoon, The Hollywood News was treated to a very special Warner Brothers presentation of some pre-release footage from the highly anticipated summer release of PACIFIC RIM. This is the film that could be referred to as the movie that writer/director Guillermo Del Toro did instead of last year’s THE HOBBIT, and I was among the many film fans literally blown away by the many trailers that have surfaced online and in theatres earlier on this year.
Today, I sat amongst dozens of excited fellow journalists in a packed Leicester Square Vue to see exactly what Warner Brothers had brought to show us. These type of sizzle screenings are just starting to become a common occurrence for these big summer movies, but are usually reserved for high octane remakes or sequels, like Paramount’s STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, a well received film for which the studio also provided a similar occasion to build hype.
Minor spoilers ahead.
I’ve kind of let the footage that we were shown sit with me for an hour or so after viewing it (which also gave me ample time to fit in a cheeky Friday afternoon pint to discuss it with my peers). We were shown around five scenes from the film, each cut up to take out a few minor spoilers so that we as film fans as well as journalists can still enjoy the film when it is finally released next month (July 12th).
We kick off with an introduction from director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro, who takes us through what we are about to see. It amounts to a collection of scenes, the first being the opening monologue which tells us how the creatures, known as the Kaiju, began to rise out of the sea many years ago and how human beings began the fight to combat the threat by building monster robots, known as Jaegers. This first scene plays as a series of archive news-like footage pieces (CNN, White House released video, BBC etc) with a voice over (possibly by lead Charlie Hunnam’s character – it’s not clear), as to how each threat was taken out. We are told how the pilots of these Jaegers came to be as famous and admired as rock stars, appearing on TV chat shows in the US and endorsing products via commercials – releasing merchandise, spin-off toys of the Jaeger’s etc. It’s all very engaging stuff, and the footage from said news reports is well shot and edited together and the effects as you may expect are pretty amazing even if they’re presented as being shot by bystanders on their mobile devices, camcorders etc. It sets up the film nicely and made this viewer want to see much more.
From here we’re taken to a snow set landscape and what looks to be a grandfather and granddaughter on a metal detecting expedition. It’s here where they find their metal detectors bleeping away, discovering one of these toy Jaegers embedded in the snow beneath them. After digging it up we suddenly hear the sound of something banging really quite bloody loudly in the distance, alarming the two human life forms on screen. It becomes apparent that it is a severely damaged Jaeger stumbling through the thick fog, stumbling so much it is about to fall, really quite heavily. It does quite violently, and in doing so you get to witness and appreciate the sheer size of these massive robots, the surround cinema sound vibrating the floor beneath us and the chair in which we’re sat. Huge. In every way. After crashing to the ground and narrowly missing said old man and granddaughter, a wounded pilot stumbles from the vessel, clearly injured… Identity, again unclear.
The best thing about the extended footage that we saw today was the central scene where it was more character focussed rather than a clattering, huge robot crashing action scene. We see Charlie Hunnam’s washed up fighter pilot Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori clearly affected inexperience partner stepping into their Jaeger for the first time (after being directed to it by a sure-to be-brilliant Idris Elba). It’s hung up in the hanger, towering above then, sparks spraying down like fountains of water from it, illuminating the deck below. We see the two pilots get into the vessel for the first time and fire it up, but things aren’t right with Mako as she falls foul of not letting go of a memory, and before we know it we’re in a Toyko street with a younger version of herself staring at an enormous Kaiju discarding towering buildings as if they were paper models, heading right for her. As fighter jets miss their target young Mako takes refuge in a quiet alley where she meets Becket in full fighter gear, the same as what he wears inside the Jaeger, pleading with Mako to let go of her memory. It’s then when the Kaiju turns the corner and we’re transported back inside the Jaeger that Mako is co-piloting. We see her clearly agitated, beginning to fire up her weapon. We cut to the outside of the Jaeger to see the thing’s huge laser-type weapon arming, the giant robot still in the massive launch hanger. Cut. Very THE MATRIX and even INCEPTION-esque (two other Warner movies there).
It’s gripping stuff, and again, I really wanted to see more.
From here we have a little more character based stuff, introducing more pilots, one couple a couple of bleached-blonde Europeans, and another a being a group of Eastern triplets who also seem to be aces at basketball.
Then we got to see part of the massive 25 minute attack on Hong Kong harbour, which is clearly the set piece of the whole movie. Del Toro describes the piece as starting out in the ocean and ending said 25 minutes later in outer space. This is going to be epic! The problem we had in the presentation was that in this scene there is just too much going on. There’s too much action; its too much in your face, there so much action to take in; in fact, its impossible. The attention to detail is superb, from the droplets of rain falling off the Jaeger’s arms as it draws back to take a swing at the incoming Kaiju, to the mammoth demolishing of Hong Kong harbour and even down to the little video monitors inside the Jaeger that the two pilots control. It. Is. Insane.
We were in one of the West End’s biggest cinemas, watching this footage on one of the biggest screens, but as both I and my colleagues observed, the screen was still too small, too confining and too claustrophobic for what was being shown. We actually saw all of this in 2D, and I will very rarely say this, but I feel that this would have benefited from being in the 3D format, which it will be upon release in a few weeks time.
Early signs are promising, but my early suggestion is to book the biggest, brightest 3D screen for July 12th. You’re going to need it.
Our footage presentation ended with the trailer below. Watch it, get excited and hope and pray it’s the giant robot vs. monster epic it is starting to promise to be.
PACIFIC RIM is released in cinemas in the UK and in North America on 12th July 2013.
Source: The Hollywood News