Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Pacific Rim Program

It's hard to move on from the joyfully insane bliss of Pacific Rim-mania, all of which is entirely manufactured in my mind, but it's time to say farewell for now.

Still, it's hard letting go of all things Pacific Rim.  Nevertheless, I can assure you that some additional mania is certain to follow with the impending Blu-Ray release of which I anticipate along with what promises to be another summer of kaiju mania in 2014 with Gareth Edwards' Godzilla.

Until then, aside from perhaps a small Pacific Rim update, it's back to our strange, unexpected and irregularly scheduled program here at Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic.

In the meantime, enjoy the premiere battle royale of Godzilla Vs. Gipsy Danger, while we wait ever so patiently for that dream picture Godzilla Vs. Gamera.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pacific Rim: My Summer Kaiju Mech Obsession

"Dad, I think you're a little obsessed with Pacific Rim."

He may have a point.  It's official.  I've seen Pacific Rim (2013) a second time.  I've gone off the bloody rails.  I'm getting the nerve up for a third run, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely.  I'm also concerned people are going to start to get to know me at the theatre as the Pacific Rim guy.

"Dad, you were taking notes on your phone during the film. TWICE!"

"Okay. But I did get up and step into the hall to do that."

Pacific Rim has become something of a summer obsession.  As writer Cannon noted in a previous comment, I've been totally "geeking out."  I know it's a little sad when your young son has to set you straight or attempt to talk sense into you, but he's trying.  I'm a bit set in my ways though and it's not working.  I appear to be a lost cause.

It's been I don't know how many years since I've been this enthusiastic over a summer film. I'm really not overstating it.  I'm definitely a little more enthusiastic about the film than most. I remember seeing Star Wars like seven times when I was a kid, but we didn't have VHS or even DVD at that point so you had to catch the wave of that cinema drug while you could. And this obsession thing.  Trust me, it's fleeting. I go through these phases. It will pass.  These things always do for me.  But I remain a staunch advocate for the film and it will no doubt rank among one of my all-time favorites as much as Neon Genesis Evangelion will forever remain one of my all-time favorite anime series or all-time series (period). I will be in line for that Blu-Ray and will actively seek the opportunity to present it to friends and family as a Christmas gift.  You have been warned.  A fan-infused Evangelion/ Pacific Rim image.

Pacific Rim will fade for me with a little time, but at the moment I am reveling in the joy of summer cinema thanks to Guillermo del Toro and Pacific Rim.  For me, it was a much needed shot in the arm. I have the giddy fascination of a child-like wonder for the first time in some time. It's incredible fusion of anime and the Japanese kaiju has made for a hybrid of pure movie ecstasy.  Perhaps an affinity for mech-driven anime and kaiju is a requirement, but I'd like to think even casual viewers could bath in the colorful fantasy world of Pacific Rim even for a summer.  And, mind you, there are plenty of fans of both genres who don't necessarily love the film with this same kind of crazed look in their eyes.  So perhaps there is something else in play.  After all, a $224 million dollar haul globally is a little more than a sub culture.

I know I'm a little unhinged at the moment.  How do I know?  Well, I get home from work and I rattle off questions to my son with an almost Chris Farley-like vigor.  His eyes immediately begin to roll.  You can tell he's moved beyond my obsession for it.

"Which one is your favorite robot?"
"Who is your favorite character?"
"That Gipsy sword sequence was so awesome."
"How about Gipsy's rocket punch!"
"How about when Gipsy crushed the Kaiju head and the thing was still alive?!"
"I love that kaiju EMP weapon!"
"I love the lights on Gipsy Danger."
"Would you want to be a Jaeger pilot?"

Of course I do all this to torture my son.


My son replies, "But Dad, how can they make another one?  Gipsy Danger is gone -destroyed in The Breach!  The Breach is closed.  Crimson Typhoon.  Striker Eureka. Cherno Alpha.  They are all gone Dad!"

With my forehead scrunched I reply unscathed to his keen sacrilegious observations.

"Whoa! Easy there. Hold up. Wait a minute. Listen! You rebuild Gipsy Danger.  You make Gipsy Danger better than ever.  del Toro has even spoken of a Gipsy 2.0.  Crimson Typhoon.  We can rebuild him!  We have the technology.  We make him bigger, faster and stronger.  Cherno Alpha and Striker Eureka done!  You want more? They pre-designed roughly 100 mecha for the film. You've got them.  We keep Gipsy Danger and we make four new units that translate into super cool toy collectibles.  The aliens come from outer space this time. Look in the sky!  Here they come!  Ron Perlman is back! It's science fiction pal.  YOU - CAN - DO - ANYTHING!"

I enthusiastically spout off with a kind of lunatic, rapid fire excitement like that of a man hopped up on five bags of sugar.  "With science fiction and fantasy there are no limits and no boundaries my son!" (END SPOILERS).

He tackles me. He's bigger than me now.  He's strong like a mech.  It's all quite painful.  But I gather my old man strength and I immediately pretend to be Striker Eureka and fire pretend torpedoes from my chest. My son looks at me with a sense of hopelessness. I am such a big kid after seeing that film.  Okay, I'm generally a big kid, but that film is like a spark for the imagination.  It's the kind of film that stays with a kid, which is why I think it will one day have the kind of impact with fans of these genres as Blade Runner (1982) did me as a young boy.  Blade Runner wasn't a major hit but it left an impression on an impressionable young boy, and of course much more and the rest is history for many of us.

Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is a colorful, sensational, rousing and triumphant display of good versus evil with all of things I loved watching as a kid that crashed these shores like waves from Japan on Saturday afternoons for Creature Double Feature.  I understand the technology and capabilities have changed but if you can't see the links and appreciate the parallels than there is no saving your cynical heart.

Okay, not convinced.  I know you are, but I'll go on.  I spent a solid hour at the official Pacific Rim movie site watching interviews with Guillermo del Toro and clips from the film.  If you want a better sense of the film watch those clips.  Better yet, go see the film!  But you can learn many fun things from the site about kaiju.

A Kaiju is a 3,000 ton amphibious monster from a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean called The Breach. Here are helpful tips on how to survive the incoming waves of kaiju attacks.

1. Coastal cities are at greater risk. Take refuge 200 miles inland.
2. Financially support the Jaeger project.
3. Know your Kaiju categories (II, III, IV).
4. If attacked proceed quickly to the nearest underground shelter.
5. Do not run. Kaiju vision is trained for rapid motion.
6. Small firearms only aggravate the Kaiju.
7. Avoid all slime secretions.
8. Duck and cover if unable to reach shelter.
9. Make sure Kaiju has vacated area before emerging.

Beyond the website fun, I also have some figures on order.  As of this writing there are just three available.  Crimson Typhoon, Knifehead and Gipsy Danger.  They are currently somewhere floating around in a box over the skies of the Pacific funny enough.

I bought the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi (Thunderbirds, Prison Break, Game Of Thrones). The score is a beast and, like the film, positively a thrill a minute.  To relive the film what better way than to have the music on the iPad. 

I've ordered the book Pacific Rim: Man, Machines And Monsters by David S. Cohen and Guillermo del Toro to enjoy the artwork and production design, stills and close-ups of the mechs.  About the only thing I haven't purchased is the comic Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero with cover art by Alex Ross (Battle Of The Planets by Top Cow). I figure at the very least I will have these things as collectibles to look back and laugh on with my son at my raging and completely unbridled obsession with del Toro's film.

Oh and did you know I'm dreaming about sequel ideas. Well, you wouldn't but I am.  del Toro has already indicated should a Pacific Rim 2 happen he's thinking of a Jaeger kaiju hybrid.  How about Godzilla and Pacific Rim crossover comics?  I can see it.  Legendary Pictures is behind both.  How about a film Toho?  I've been thinking they need to turn Pacific Rim into Pacific Rim: The Anime.  Can you imagine the potential for an animated Pacific Rim anime with these mechs and characters.  They should order up a twenty-six episode series for Pacific Rim Japan style.  Sign up Production I.G. on the animation or the Sunrise folks over at Cowboy Bebop and let's get this thing done already. How about Studio Khara?  I am indeed kaiju dreaming.  But if they can make an animation for Star Trek: The Original Series then anything is possible.

Still not enough, I plan on spending a few days on the beach with my kids before the summer is over.  We all need some good music.  Pacific Rim Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -check!  Toys for the beach sand - check!  Okay, seriously, they won't leave their sealed boxes, but it's a nice thought.  Most important is reading material.  Yes, I have the Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization by Alex Irvine ready to go, because the movie just wasn't enough. So yes, I'll be reading the book.  And that really is crazy.  The last film-related book I did read was Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down (1999).

I can't remember the last time I saw a film more than once at the theatre and pushed me straight over the edge like this.  The time to see a film twice is, well - very difficult.  Pacific Rim really hit me and struck at just the right time.  I've even taken up something of an interest in checking into a few of Rinko Kikuchi's films. I'm pulling out some older kaiju pictures too.  So more to come there. I know this is clearly a full-on geek meltdown and it would seem I need some help, but really I am okay. I think. It's all in good fun.  No worries.

I've been so into Pacific Rim that apparently I missed the birth of the Royal baby.  Have you heard about this?  You see? No interest. Nothing.  I have much bigger kaiju to fry.  To think people have invested so much of their time in watching every move of this family and this baby.  It all sounds a little crazy and a bit of a waste of time to someone as sound and clear thinking as myself.

"Hey, hey! Is that the FedEx guy!? Is my Gipsy Danger finally here!?"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pacific Rim Concept Art

"That was one of the first words I said to the entire team at ILM. I said, 'This movie needs to be theatrical, operatic, romantic.' We used a lot of words not usually associated with high-tech blockbusters ... We went for a very, very, very, very saturated color palette for the battle for Hong Kong. I kept asking John to tap into his inner Mexican and be able to saturate the greens and the purples and the pinks and the oranges.  I would say 'Give me a Hokusai wave' ... we use the waves and weather in the movie very operatically.  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.  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]."
-Guillermo del Toro (Variety) 2013-

If you've had the chance to experience Pacific Rim (2013) you've seen first hand the kind of grand, artistic effort that was put into the colossally beautiful Pacific Rim.  And speaking of water, water colors and art work, concept art plays a big role in film-making.

I don't normally spend this much time on any one film, but I've been thoroughly fascinated by the rebirth of the kaiju and mech concept through director Guillermo del Toro's summer film.  I'm riveted.

In keeping with our ongoing fascination with all thing Pacific Rim I have included a selection of the very best concept art that was created for the film.  For a more intensive look at the world of the concept artist and concept art in cinema be sure to check out the exquisite site, The Film Sketcher, by Maurice Mitchell.  You'll also find exclusive interviews with the artists.

I have an order in for Pacific Rim: Man, Machines And Monsters which will highlight the concept art of the Pacific Rim world as well as feature designs, film stills and other kaiju and mech madness.  This is the first film-connected book that I've purchased since the now long out-of-print Final Fantasy: The Making Of Spirits Within (2001).  I came close to purchasing The Art Of District 9 (2010) and Prometheus: The Art Of The Film (2012), but have yet to pull the trigger.  So you can see the impact visually Pacific Rim had on me personally.  It left a significant sizable impression.

I'm doing my very best to get Pacific Rim out of my system.  For those concerned about me over the weekend you should know I refrained from seeing the film for a third time. No worries I am still okay - I think.