Comic-Con: Guillermo del Toro Wows with Monster vs. Robot Footage at PACIFIC RIM Panel

     July 14, 2012


Guillermo del Toro is an established, Comic-Con favorite, but that doesn’t mean watching him participate in a panel gets any less entertaining.  The guy is incredibly affable, genuinely funny, and he curses like a sailor.  It’s been four long years since his last directorial effort (Hellboy II), but he’s finally back with a new film, and it’s a biggie.  Pacific Rim is a true monster movie, as the pic centers on a battle between gigantic, human-manned robots called Jaegers and massive creatures called Kaiju.

We got our first look at the truly epic footage Saturday in the 6,500 seater Hall H at Comic-Con 2012.  Hit the jump to read my full recap of the panel.

The Warner Bros./Legendary panel kicked off in true epic fashion, as curtains to both sides of the main screen opened up to reveal two more gigantic screens.  The crowd went wild. Moderator and Comic-Con 2012 MVP Chris Hardwick came out first and introduced the head of Legendary, Thomas Tull.  He was in the middle of speaking when the lights went down and gigantic mechanized logos/computer screens came up signaling the entrance of Pacific Rim.  Tull quipped, “Alright, so that’s how we do that.”


  • Tull said writer Travis Beacham came to him and said, “Can I pitch you an idea about giant robots fighting giant monsters?”  Tull said that this was a great idea, but in order to bring that idea to fruition he knew they needed someone special, “After we kidnapped him, sleep deprivation, the whole deal, we got him onboard.”
  • Guillermo del Toro took the stage like a rockstar to wild applause, “I am shitting in my pa nts, really.  I bought pants twice my size, so I’m okay.”
  • Behind the scenes footage from the film was playing throughout the duration of the panel on one of the giant side screens.  Between the flashes I could make out lots of rain/water work, awesome space suits, and a great deal of running.
  • Del Toro said, “This movie came to me like a big, fat Christmas gift at a time that I needed it in my life,” referencing having worked on two projects that didn’t come together, At the Mountains of Madness and The Hobbit.
  • He wanted to make a movie that was not only great spectacle, but would have huge emotional content with a sense of awe and scale.
  • Del Toro said that 12 weeks ago they were still filming the movie.  They brought footage specifically for Comic-Con, after which del Toro said they’ll go into “radio silence” until the end of the year on Pacific Rim.

pacific-rim-comic-con-posterHardwick then brought out stars Charlie Hunnam, Riko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Perlman.

  • Hardwick asked Comic-Con vet Perlman what it was like to be back here, and Perlman said it was “a miracle” that he’s still invited back here.  The crowd obviously loves the guy and his introduction was met with crazy applause.

They then introduced a clip from the film, with del Toro saying, “It’s time to show some stuff.”  He said that he wanted to do this movie as soon as he heard the pitch from Beacham, and the studio has allowed him the freedom to do what he wanted with the film.  He revealed that the robots have two pilots to handle the head, with one pilot handling the left hemisphere of the robot and one pilot handling the right hemisphere


The footage opened with a old man and a young boy using a metal detector in some snow-covered landscape, before it started beeping wildly and a ginormous mechanized foot came out of the water.  The Jaeger was then revealed (as seen in the first poster), and this thing is absolutely massive.  We saw shots of Hunnam and Riko in their suits, hooking themselves up to what looks like an elliptical in order to control the robots.

We got very few, very brief looks at the actual Kaiju creatures, but from what I could make out it looked like one of them had a head like a hammer-head shark.  Both the Kaiju and Jaegers were created using CG, so there were no practical effects on the actual monsters that I could tell.  Their exterior looks to be hardened, with giant claws that rip through a bridge full of cars.  We didn’t see much dialogue, but my favorite part of the footage was actually seeing the sci-fi world that del Toro has built for these characters to play in; the suits, the costumes, the mechanical environments.

  • The lights came up and Hardwick said, “Holy shit.”  He then asked del Toro how he managed to do all this, to which the director quickly responded, “As we say about icebergs, just the tip.  But only about icebergs.”
  • Del Toro said he didn’t want to create a movie that was an homage to two genres, he wanted to created something new.
  • What del Toro really wanted to show at the forefront was humanity and emotion.  They created a world where these robots exist and wanted to explore what would happen if they were really there.
  • Del Toro wanted to recreate the sensation of being present while a thing the size of a skyscraper faces off against something like a hurricane.
  • The creative team’s goal was “to use creativity, and passion, and madness as our fuel.”
  • Del Toro confirmed that the movie will have rocket punches and “amazing melee weapons, amazing close-contact weapons, and some artillery.”  He added, “You’ll see robot porn.”
  • There are approximately 9 Kaiju and 6 robots.  They designed about 40 Kaijus and “did sort of an American Idol on them” to whittle the field down.pacific-rim-charlie-hunnam-rinko-kikuchi
  • Del Toro talked about the variety of things the Kaiju do in the film, and Tull added, “Trust me, our bank account can speak to how many things he makes them do.”
  • A young girl asked what would happen if one of the two pilots was unable to control one of the Jaegers, and del Toro said that this is answered in the film.  We’ll see one pilot try to drive a Jaeger to safety alone.  Hardwick quipped, “If you lose the right pilot the robot just starts doing pottery.”
  • Del Toro tried to dirty the camera by having it be hit with oil and water and be hit with scratches in order to root the Kaiju in an atmosphere that has elements (rain, snow, mud) so that the creatures become real.
  • One of the things they were very clear about was, “no fucking motion capture,” it was all key framed.  Del Toro didn’t want the robots to move like humans, he wanted them to move like robots.  He also didn’t want the monsters to flaunt their claws, comparing that to martial arts movies where one guy is beating up another guy, while all the others are dancing around showing off their moves.
  • Despite the amount of CG, del Toro said that they did “a shit load” of physical stuff in the movie.
  • They have flying monsters and sea monsters.  “We have monsters up the wazoo.”
  • They designed the monsters and the robots from the inside out, so they started with the anatomy and worked their way out.
  • Del Toro said that they’re trying stuff with the animation of the monsters (by ILM) that hasn’t been done before.

Obviously Pacific Rim is an effects-heavy pic, and with production only recently being completed there was very little that we could see.  That said, the trailer/sizzle reel that they showed was pretty badass and I’m extremely eager to see more of the truly gigantic monsters and robots.

Catch up on all of our continuing Comic-Con coverage here.

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