Some of us don’t have the time to dig through Special Features or Commentary to learn maybe a handful of interesting things about a movie. Never fear for I am here to do the work for you. First up on deck……Pacific Rim. After scouring through everything the Blu Ray has to offer here’s the cream of the crop.
Guillermo Del Toro did not direct the found footage sequences
The opening sequence of the movie that shows us the state of the world and the Kaiju uprising was in fact not directed by Del Toro at all. He admits that he may know how to do a lot of things, but shooting found footage is not one of those. Matthew Cullen of Mirada Studios (which Del Toro helped form) directed these sequences instead.
Del Toro watched Sports movies to prepare for this film.
This one may seem counterintuitive. Instead of watching Kaiju and Mecha movies, for which this entire film is a love poem of, Del Toro likened the story to any good underdog sports movie. Throughout the commentary he returns to this analogy repeatedly throughout the commentary. If you venture a rewatch you’ll see the sports movie tropes in there. (They basically have a locker room fight in the middle of the movie.)
Every Kaiju could fit a man inside.
I know….I know….phrasing. When designing the Kaiju for this movie one of the guidelines was called the “Nakajima Effect.” This was named after Haruo Nakajima who was best known for portraying Godzilla from the 1950’s through the early 1970’s. The Kaiju were designed in such a way that if the movies were made 50 years ago they could make a suit for the Kaiju that a man could fit in. This means the Cloverfield monster was not allowed.
Idris Elba is NOT American.
For those of you Idris Elba fans this may seem like a dumb fact to place here, but after seeing The Wire Del Toro thought Idris Elba was American. Even after watching him in Luther he thought he was American with a great British accent. Only after asking another filmmaker did he find out that Elba was in fact British.
There are a crazy amount of practical sets.
For a movie that takes place in very stylized locations there are a surprising amount of practical elements within the film. For a film of this caliber most filmmakers would just green screen 90% of the environment. Pacific Rim is probably at least 60-75%. Often the green screen just enhances the background and the characters still interact with elements that are in front of them. The control pods inside the Jaegers started out as mostly green screen but slowly but surely Del Toro added more and more culminating in a mostly practical set. For Mako’s flashback sequence when she is a little girl the alleyway is completely practical and the whole stage was set up on a set of hydraulic jumpers. Every time the Kaiju takes a step the entire set would actual shake.
Del Toro takes a jab at Peter Jackson in the commentary. When making a genre movie that takes place within a new universe Del Toro believes that the exposition can be done in an elegant manner with minimal screen time. “Otherwise, you end up like other fantasy movies that end up being three hours long.”
If you own the Blu Ray I would suggest watching the director’s commentary. He never stops talking and never repeats himself. Del Toro discusses his filmmaking process, the themes, and the history of the genre. For those of you who are interested in that last part, I give you the gift of time codes.
History of Kaiju films: 00:32:00
History of the Mecha genre: 00:46:00
The two schools of Kaiju design: 01:10:45