Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This is the last bit of panel coverage I have in me tonight, which means The Hobbit wrap-up, which will be significant as they showed 12 minutes of footage plus a new video diary, will have to wait until tomorrow evening, sadly. I hope you understand as I’ve been running off of 4 hours of sleep, been up about 20 hours and have written up so much over the course of the day already. I’m just beat and I have to be up in less than 4 hours.
Warner Bros went all out for their presentation. Marvel had a kick-ass follow up, but I don’t think many would argue that Warner Bros won the studio presentations this year. They not only debuted first look footage from Man of Steel and Pacific Rim, they also delivered laughs with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis’ The Campaign and surprised everybody with Gareth Edwards’ fantastic Godzilla preview piece, but they also installed crazy wide screen extensions to the main screen that revealed themselves at the start of the panel, opening up tons more screen space to show behind the scenes footage and little bits and pieces as the panels went on.
It was a little like the strip in Vegas… sensory overload.
Pacific Rim began the panel with Guillermo del Toro coming in, sitting down and immediately telling the audience that “I am shitting in my pants!” Guillermo’s one of Comic-Con’s favorite sons and his innocent vulgarity is one of the big reasons for that. Another reason is that he’s absolutely one of us, with the same passions as everybody sitting watching him speak. Oh, and he also makes kick-ass movies.
Pacific Rim looks to be no exception. Man does it look epic. We’ve never seen Guillermo working at this level before. The Hellboy films are relatively big, but still we’re talking $65 million range. The brief footage we saw from Pacific Rim makes the Hellboy movies look like My Dinner With Andre.
The set up is giant monsters have awoken and are wreaking havoc on the earth. Our response was to build these huge robots called Jaegers that require two pilots, one for the left hemisphere of the brain, one for the right. They only work if they are essentially hardwired to this machine and a neurosurge would be too much for one pilot to bare (although Guillermo did let it slip that we would see what exactly happens should one person try to pilot one of the Jaegers alone).
And these aren’t no puny, punk-ass robots ‘neither. The opening scene of the footage he showed has two guys in the snow with a metal detector looking for stuff buried in the ice. The old guy with the detector gets a bigger ping than he bargained for… he holds the detector up as it goes crazy and out of the haze stumbles an injured robot easily 80 feet tall, big swirling energy thing on its chest. The human aren’t even tall enough to clear the top of its foot. It falls to the ground in a huge collapse before they cut out of the snow.
Guillermo made it quite clear that the footage he was showing would only be played here and that no footage from Pacific Rim would be released publicly until the end of the year (do I smell a trailer attached to The Hobbit?). “All you motherfuckers with James Bond glasses don’t record this.”
The footage contained these giant robots stomping through water, pilots getting in to their positions in high tech harnesses, the robots moving in sync with the humans piloting them, walking as they walk (they’re suspended, so they don’t actually move forward, but they can take steps and have machinery attached to their feet… they also have the same type of machinery attached to their arms, so they can fight and the robot mimics them in real time), fighting as they fight, etc.
The Kaiju, or giant monsters if you’re new to the world of movie geekery, glimpsed were indeed massive, at least as big as these Jaegers. By the way, I can’t wait for the inevitable “Moves Like Jaegers” spoof… Weird Al, that one’s a freebie!
We didn’t see any full on Kaiju, really, just glimpses of a hard shell and a clawed hand reaching and destroying a bridge. That particular Kaiju gets fucked up by the big-ass robot. There’s something that stirs in the gut of any self-respecting movie geek at the sight of a big metal dude laying the smack down on a giant creature and that stirring was going on in about 6500 guts in that hall.
Idris Elba shouts the line “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!” to rally his troops (fellow pilots? Looks like) before the collage of robots beating on monsters and monsters beating on robots.
The audience went bananas as the footage came to a close and Guillermo said “As they say in Mexico ‘That’s just the tip!’ We say that only about icebergs.”
Now for some panel details:
-How does a movie like this get made? Guillermo said it helps a lot when the execs you’re meeting with have Sideshow Collectibles on their shelves and toys on their desks like the ones at Legendary and WB.
-“When you get a budget you can do two things: you can get crazy or get lazy. I chose to get as crazy as I could.” – GdT (that’s why we love you, Guillermo)
-The robots have great melee weapons, great close contact weapons… and ROCKET PUNCHES! “Expect obscene robot porn!” -GdT
-There are 9 unique Kaijus and 6 or 7 robots. “We designed 40 Kaijus and we did an American Idol on them. We designed them and then everybody would vote, there were heated discussions, punches were thrown and the better Kaijus are the ones in the movie, the ones that won.”
-Charlie Hunnam signed onto the film sight unseen. He said there were only two directors in the world he’d say yes to without reading a script and Guillermo is one of them.
-Guillermo said there’s a lot of practical stuff (for instance they rigged a whole city street set to shake as if giant feet were actually impacting, causing cars to jump), but this story necessitated lots of CG, so to keep it from looking to fake he attempted to “dirty” the camera… it’s hit with oil and water and they even added scratches to the lens of the virtual cameras. They also don’t treat them like they can do anything. The virtual cameras can’t clear the whole height a Jaeger or a Kaiju. Also only ever shot these guys where there was atmosphere to make them feel real, be it rain, snow or mud.
-“No fucking motion capture. It was all key framed because I don’t the robots moving just like human beings. I needed the robots to move with the sense of a shock absorber joint, a gear moving… You talk to the animators as you would talk to the animators on stop motion or 2D (cel animation). You treat the resources with respect. You don’t take it as a thing that will save work. You take it as a thing that will necessitate ten times more work to come alive.” -GdT
-We have 3 sea monsters, flying monsters… we have monsters out the whazoo!” -GdT
-Any monsters from legend (ie known monsters)? “No, just Ron Perlman!”
Guillermo blew the socks off the Con. Again. July 13th, 2013 can not get here fast enough.