Between the Marvel Studios panel and the presentation that Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures had lined up for Hall H on Saturday at Comic Con, fans were in for all sorts of greatness to be shown to them, given that they were able to get into the very packed room. All the waiting done by anyone that was able to get into Hall H certainly paid off for sure and first up was a look at two of Legendary Pictures upcoming films that, between them, feature colossal talent, robots, and monsters. While the first film presented was something everyone knew about and were excited to get their first look at, Pacific Rim, the second film announced was a big surprise, as no one quite knew what they were watching until it was revealed to be Godzilla. Continue on to learn more about this very exciting panel.
Something that made the event all the more awesome was the hall itself. As the panel was gearing up to start, the screen above the main stage suddenly got bigger. The curtains adjacent to the screen pulled back and revealed two more widescreens, essentially quadrupling the size of the screen at the front of Hall H. People were pretty excited, not knowing what to expect. Following this, the new screens started to play out like animated menus on a Blu-ray. Depending on the film being presented at the time, it would range from logos from the film, EPK footage with no sound, to mockups of the film environment. It was a pretty cool way to amplify the experience.
Officially kicking things off was the first film presentation for the newest film from director Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim, which was best described by Del Toro as a movie about, “Giant MotherF*ing Robots Vs. giant MotherF*ing Monsters.”
Official Panel Description:
Legendary Pictures: Pacific Rim-From acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic sci-fi action adventure Pacific Rim. 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. Pacific Rim also stars Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, and Charlie Day.
Guillermo del Toro was of course on stage and ready to make everyone smile. The man continues to be a great presence, with his wonderful enthusiasm, passion for his work, his awesome Mexican accent, and of course his penchant for swearing. Del Toro was then joined on stage by a good portion of the cast, which included Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Pearlman. As excited as everyone was to be on stage and welcomed by 6,600 people sitting in the audience, I think everyone was more excited for whatever it was that del Toro had prepped and ready to show. Of course he delivered.
Del Toro noted that this was not going to be shared with anyone else until December and that everyone should just put their “f-ing cell phones and whatever” away, but then he let his footage, which felt like an extended trailer, play. To get into some description: the footage started out with two men, one young and one old, finding a toy robot in the snow, only to see a huge robot approach from the distance and fall over. This then led to footage of all sorts of craziness. Glimpses of the futuristic world were shown. Images of the various robots, the “Jaegers”, were shown, along with the two pilot system involved in controlling them. Throughout a lot of this, we had Idris Elba delivering a speech concerning the war against the monstrous invaders that need to be stopped. The big effects were featured quite prominently as well. Del Toro was not afraid to show a few “money shots” in this first peak at the footage. We were able to see what appeared to be the Golden Gate bridged get destroyed by a monster, followed by insane footage of a Jaeger battling a monster, or Kaiju in the ocean. The scope of this movie is incredible, with the giant fighters literally not fitting into the frame at times. Before it all ended, Elba managed to get out a final rally cry, which was then followed by the shot of a Jaeger putting both hands together and coming down hard on one giant sea monster.
The reaction was of course huge and the rest of the panel was basically a Q&A and letting the audience work off its excitement. Among some of the key bits of information del Toro and the rest of the panel presented, one of the big things that wanted to be kept in mind was to keep the monsters brutal and evil, while treating the resources used to create them with respect. The movie is obviously full of CG effects and while del Toro is a filmmaker who very much likes to work with practical effects when he can, he was very reassuring in the fact that he loves to utilize CG in ways that feel necessary, but are not played up without making them feel as if they are in the moment. Essentially he is stating that he uses them in the same way he uses practical effects. Another key aspect of successfully creating the robots and monsters for the film was in how del Toro approached his designs for them. As with other films he has worked on, creating the Jaegers and Kaijus was done by working inside out. He wanted to know what makes up these creatures and have an understanding of their bodies, what goes into them, and how they work. Eventually del Toro just came out and said that the film was, “robot porn” with lots of “robot on Kaiju action”. It was a very fun and impressive panel and featuring what I believe to be my favorite footage of the day (though it’s not like it was leaps and bounds ahead of the other awesome things that were seen).
Pacific Rim opens July 11, 2013
Following Pacific Rim, the hall went dark and suddenly we were all watching a brand new trailer for something unknown to us. As it opened, with the Warner Brothers and Legendary Logos appearing with text having a distinctive font, we were suddenly hearing narration that was comparing the images on screen and whatever took place to something of biblical proportions. What was seen were cities that have been ravaged by something. Giant holes in the middle of building, wrecks everywhere, and a giant footprint that had a train and the bodies of people within it. Eventually the camera slid over to an enormous creature that could not fit into the frame, allowing us only to see a scaly tail and some claws. This was followed by a cut to black and the distinctive sound of Godzilla. The title appeared and then we got to see a huge cloud of smoke, with the camera pushing through, only to reveal the shadowy head of the creature, as it stuck its snout up and roared into the sky. This footage brought the house down.
After seeing this teaser, which felt incredibly appropriate given that we just saw giant monsters in Pacific Rim, moderator Chris Hardwick brought out director Gareth Edwards (Monsters), who went into some detail on this upcoming American reboot of the Godzilla franchise. The key thing stated was the approach to this Godzilla was to ground the film in a believable reality. Now that may seem silly at first glance, but one should think back to what the original Japanese film, Gojira, was, which was a serious commentary, based on the nuclear devastation that happened within the country. It only happened to use the most effective special effects at that time, which was a man in a rubber suit, but the film is played deadly serious in its original form.
Now, with this new film, hearing that idea is intriguing and given what I saw in Edwards previous film, Monsters, it seems like he is an appropriate guy to try and plan out a feature like that. Of course, I am generally skeptical about suddenly giving an indie filmmaker a huge spectacle film to work on such as this, but the footage seen was impressive, given the way it tackled the enormous scale. There is only so much to go on when it comes to a teaser that lasted a minute and a half, but it certainly did the job of building a level of anticipation and making an excited crowd continue to go wild. It did not hurt that this was just a really cool way to keep people’s excitement levels high, since Man of Steel and The Hobbit would be being presented on stage soon after.