spacetime coordinates: 2020 – 2025 Alaska // Hong Kong // Manila // San Francisco // Pacific Ocean // TokyoPacific Rim is a 2013 American science fiction monster film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman. The screenplay was written by Travis Beacham and del Toro from a story by Beacham.The film is set in the future, when Earth is at war with the Kaiju, colossal sea monsters which have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers, gigantic humanoid mechas each controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link. Focusing on the war’s later days, the story follows Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement and teamed with rookie pilot Mako Mori as part of a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaiju.
Knifehead, the first Kaiju to appear in the film, is a tribute to the plodding kaiju of 1960s Japanese films, and is intended to look almost like a man in a rubber suit; its head was inspired by that of a goblin shark. Leatherback, the bouncer-like Kaiju which spews electro-magnetic charges, is a favorite of del Toro, who conceived it as a “brawler with this sort of beer belly”; the lumbering movements of gorillas were used as a reference. The Kaiju Otachi homages the dragons of Chinese mythology. The director called it a “Swiss army knife of a Kaiju”; with almost 20 minutes of screen time, it was given numerous features so the audience would not tire of it. The creature moves like a Komodo dragon in water, sports multiple jaws and an acid-filled neck sack, and unfurls wings when necessary. It is also more intelligent than the other Kaiju, employing eagle-inspired strategies against the Jaegers. Onibaba, the Kaiju that orphans Mako Mori, resembles a fusion of a Japanese temple and a crustacean. Slattern, the largest Kaiju, is distinguished by its extremely long neck and “half-horn, half-crown” head, which del Toro considered both demonic and majestic.
Gipsy Danger, the American Jaeger, was based on the shape of New York City’s Art Deco buildings, such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, but infused with John Wayne‘s gunslinger gait and hip movements. Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, was based on the shape and paint patterns of a T-series Russian tank, combined with a giant containment silo to give the appearance of a walking nuclear power plant with a cooling tower on its head. Crimson Typhoon, the three-armed Chinese Jaeger, is piloted by triplets and resembles a “medieval little warrior”; its texture evokes Chinese lacquered wood with golden edges. Striker Eureka, the Australian Jaeger, is likened by del Toro to a Land Rover; the most elegant and masculine Jaeger, it has a jutting chest, a camouflage paint scheme recalling the Australian outback, and the bravado of its pilots.
Rather than popular culture, the director drew inspiration from works of art such as The Colossus and George Bellows‘s boxing paintings.
The classic Japanese woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai was a common motif in the ocean battles; Del Toro recalled, “I would say ‘Give me a Hokusai wave’… we use the waves and weather in the movie very operatically.” The director asked that Knoll not necessarily match the lighting from shot to shot: “It’s pretty unorthodox to do that, but I think the results are really beautiful and very artistically free and powerful, not something you would associate with a big sci-fi action movie.” Del Toro considers the film’s digital water its most exciting visual effect: “The water dynamics in this movie are technically beautiful, but also artistically incredibly expressive. We agreed on making the water become almost another character. We would time the water very precisely. I’d say ‘Get out of the wave [on this frame].'”