The film with the most pun-worthy title of the summer is also the biggest risk of the year.
In the midst of the summer, we have superhero films like Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Kick-Ass 2, and big-name films like The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp, World War Z with Brad Pitt and Elysium with Matt Damon, but lurking somewhere around is a big budget, niche film called Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is arguably the biggest gamble of all the 2013 summer blockbusters.
Pacific Rim was made on a budget of $190 million, but it is not an adaptation, features no A-listers to bring in the fans and, more importantly, could easily be misinterpreted as a Transformers rip-off. This happened last year with an actual Transformers rip-off, Battleship, which was deservedly a flop. Pacific Rim, on the other hand, doesn’t deserve the same reaction.
“Wait, Matt – hold up! How can you make that judgement before even seeing it?” Well, same concerned film fan from my previous article (I swear I won’t use this joke again), the components that went into making Pacific Rim suggest that this may be artistically a great blockbuster, as opposed to those so far (Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness) that have left viewers divided.
When Guillermo del Toro is given creative control, he surpasses expectations. Nowhere was that more apparent than Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro’s back catalogue indicates that he has a fine awareness of the fantasy genre. When he’s given much of the creative control, he has proven to surpass expectations, and nowhere was that more apparent than Pan’s Labyrinth. It was marketed as a general fantasy film, but when people went to see it, they weren’t expecting the post-Spanish Civil War backdrop and the social commentary that produced. Arguably, Pacific Rim should offer us more than what the trailer would have us believe.
Del Toro also favours storytelling over cheap gimmicks, not wanting to be swept in by the 3D that is clogging our cinemas. The director never intended a 3D release, believing the colossal battles between the Jaegers (giant robots) and Kaiju (giant monsters) would suffice in invoking that sense of awe and wonderment. In fact, Pacific Rim was to be released last summer, but a last minute change to convert it into 3D delayed it by 40 weeks. I sneakily suspect the studio pressured del Toro into it to guarantee a profit from their investment (del Toro also wanted the film to be R-rated, which is either a 15 or 18 here in the UK, but producers convinced him to bring it down to a PG-13/12A).
However, despite the quality of the picture and the artistic intentions by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is not looking likely to be the box office smash studios are hoping for. While many of del Toro’s prior pictures have made a profit, none of them have even come close to the budget of this film, let alone the $400 million-plus it would need to make to be considered a success.
Pacific Rim has no major lead actors/actresses to draw in casual filmgoers, and its originality will be a hard sell
As mentioned before, Pacific Rim has no major lead actors/actresses to draw in casual filmgoers, even though there are still some noteworthy performers among the cast (Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Hunnam all star). The movie has an accessible premise, but too many cynics could read it as another giant robot film. Pacific Rim also has an original concept, unlike many of this summer’s films and, as of late, originality is hard to sell to filmgoers, especially big budgeted ones.
I have no doubt that Pacific Rim will be a film to watch this summer. In fact, based upon the collected information, I would argue that this could turn out to be the best of the summer blockbusters. Del Toro has already proven from his prior work that he can make great movies that are accepted by fans and critics alike. It is just a shame that, simultaneously, many cinemagoers could be put off by its niche qualities, leaving this year’s big budget cult film with potentially only a minor box office success.
Featured image: Legendary Pictures
Pictures: Legendary Pictures