Director Guillermo del Toro revives Japanese monsters in 'Pacific Rim'

Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:10pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a summer swimming in apocalypse movies, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro puts his own stamp on the end of the world with an epic sci-fi battle between monsters and robots, eschewing Hollywood's A-list for a cast of cable TV actors.

"Pacific Rim," out in theaters on Friday, sees mankind fighting giant alien monsters called "Kaijus," derived from Japanese lore, with giant human-operated mechanical robots called "Jaegers," and taps into Del Toro's own childhood fascination with Japanese movies and robots.

"I think that the awe we felt as kids watching giant monster movies was lost," Del Toro told Reuters. "They were so big, so crazy, that they were unreal. ... I wanted to bring it back."

The film follows a succession of apocalypse disaster movies released this summer, including "After Earth" and "World War Z." What sets "Pacific Rim" apart is its lack of an A-list film cast.

Rooted in the epic battle scenes are 10 characters connected to the Jaeger program, exploring relationships that include a father-son team, brothers-in-arms and a romance, all of which Del Toro says give the film "heart."

The director selected actors best known in cult television shows, such as Charlie Hunnam from FX's drama "Sons of Anarchy," Idris Elba from HBO's gritty drug series "The Wire" and Charlie Day from FX's comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Day particularly impressed the director, stepping out of his eccentric, dim-witted character that he is known for on "Always Sunny" to play the intelligent, fast-talking alien enthusiast, Dr. Newton Geiszler.

"Charlie is known for being great at playing dumb, but I needed him to play super smart, arrogant and still be funny, and he was so great at it, it was a big surprise," Del Toro said.   Continued...

Director Guillermo del Toro poses at the premiere of "Pacific Rim" at Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California July 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni