Why I loved Pacific Rim and hate Transformers.
Michael Bay is a director who simply goes for a glossy look, style with no substance. Yet Guillermo Del Toro is one of the greatest directors in the industry and without doubt the greatest (in my opinion) horror director in the last two decades, simply look at Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone and you will see what I am on about. Even though Pacific Rim does include massive robots fighting massive monsters it was clear that Del Toro and Travis Beacham had thoroughly thought out everything he was creating. The sheer size of the Jaegers and the Kaiju was awesome, resembling something like the new Godzilla. But these weren’t massive for no reason. Del Toro drew inspiration from Francisco Goya's The Colossus and aimed to imitate the awe of these paintings. I am pretty sure Bay has never possessed this level of inspiration in any of his films.
The designs of the Jaegers and the Kaiju is impressive. The film is clearly inspired by older Kaiju films and Del Toro does nothing to disguise his inspiration but the director said "conscious of the heritage, but not a pastiche or an homage or a greatest hits of everything". But Del Toro takes on the authorship of these monsters and adds to the lineage of the monsters. Despite the likenesses between Optimus Prime and Gypsy Danger is obvious if you simply view them as massive robots but Gypsy Danger’s design was inspired by art deco buildings such as the Chrysler building and Empire State building. Del Toro even infused John Wayne’s gun slinger gait and hip movements to create something realistic. All the other Jaegers have this exact level of detail in their design. Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, is a mixture of T-series tank and a power station to create something that resembles a power plant. The Chinese Jaeger, Crimson Typhoon, was created to resemble a "medieval little warrior"; its texture evokes Chinese lacquered wood with golden edges. And Striker Eureka, the Australian Jaeger, is likened by Del Toro to a Land Rover; the most elegant and masculine Jaeger, it has a jutting chest, a camouflage paint scheme recalling the Australian outback, and the bravado of its pilots.
The film did have it’s issues, the two scientists characters were annoying as hell and a lot of the film was dark so it was difficult at points to see exactly what was going on. But this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the film what so ever. The cinematography was amazing, especially in the scene Gypsy Danger gets thrown over the bridge. Most of the reviews I read appeared to slate the film but it is admirable what Del Toro attempted at creating. Even though the film does draw on many already existing films, the film was not a sequel or a remake, nor did it come from an existing source so they built everything from the ground up.
Michael Bay’s films are, like I said, glossy and misogynistic. Characters portrayed by the likes of Megan Fox and Rose Huntington Whiteley are simply there for people to gawk and stare at them leaning over some vehicle dressed in hardly anything. Bay’s films do not feature strong female leads. But Pacific Rim featured the character of Mako Mori, a strong, indepedent woman who adds a hell of a lot the story rather than being given a pair of tight shorts and told to bend over a Mercedes.
Del Toro did create a multi-million pound/dollar blockbuster which features massive robots fighting massive monsters but Del Toro weaved the film together using a myriad of inspiration to create something that on the surface may seem like Transformers but dig a little deeper and the film exposes exactly what blockbuster films should be.