Monday, December 17, 2012

The Art of the Trailer: Pacific Rim

My first thought when I saw the feature trailer for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim was that this is the movie a twelve year old kid sees in his head as he's scribbling out a monster vs. robots battle in his school notebook during biology class.

I think that probably suggests the director has conveyed his vision perfectly. Pacific Rim is an inarguable stamp on the movie industry that this is what a monster movie looks like in 2013.

Pacific Rim's story is as simple as every mega-monster movie before it. Horrendously destructive creatures emerging from a portal in the planet's crust will do battle with gigantic robots, built and operated by man in his determined fight to win back his home.

The new trailer only needs to convey tone and scale. If you buy into what you see, you buy a ticket.

On that front, Warner Brothers marketing has nothing to worry about. Guillermo del Toro has conveyed the scale of the battle without question. A hulking monstrous cadaver sails into port strapped to the deck of an aircraft carrier. A single claw rips across a car-filled suspension bridge. Robots are dropped into a bay that barely rises above their knees. There's no mystery to just how big this battle will be.

Of course, there's all of the sic-fi falderal that will follow. The monsters have funny names (Kaiju) as do the giant robots (Jaegers). There's a crazy futuristic way for two operators inside a Jaeger to sync their actions through a "neural bridge", using spine clamps.

But none of that is anything more than a suggestion in the trailer. And for now, who cares? For now, it's all about, please somebody thrill me with giant robots that don't turn into passenger cars. For now, it's dazzle me with the promise of a big time summer popcorn movie.

In terms of the first trailer for Pacific Rim, consider job one accomplished.

Director Guillermo del Toro on the set.
As for cast, there's only a single moment of recognition for a famous actor and that's to deliver a signature line of dialogue. Idris Elba (fresh from summer's Prometheus and fantastic performances in the BBC's superlative Luther) gets the only star moment. The line is already one of my favorites, "Today we are canceling the apocalypse."

One caveat to all of this praise. And if you are a movie fan, it's hard to miss; you can see it with your eyes closed. It's something I call the "Inception effect" and it's rampant in movie trailers this fall. It's that ominous, bellowing, warning siren of a sound track trick that's been showing up everywhere. That sound has become an unfortunate staple of the current sate-of-the-art of the trailer, and it's one I'll be talking about again in a future post.

Until then, here's the first feature trailer for Pacific Rim.

Images courtesy of Warner Brothers.

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