One question that has been plaguing my thoughts ever since I walked out of the dreary and utterly disappointing Man Of Steel. That question is, why does DC/Warner keep entrusting their comic book movie properties to Christopher Nolan? A man who set out to produce a Superman movie and wound up producing an Incredible Hulk movie more morbid and depressing than Ang Lee’s, starring someone who resembles Superman in appearance but not in character. A man who admittedly does not truly care for the material he is supposed to be translating into film. A man who is admittedly apoplectic about the concerns of the comic book fans he’s supposed to be catering to. A man who feels more comfortable turning anything resembling a classic superhero into a moping, colorless, suicide inducing allegory for daddy issues. Why would DC/Warner give their entire comic book HISTORY to him? Yes, I know it’s because Nolan is one of the finest directors working today. Yes, I know it’s because Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a 3 billion dollar worldwide success. Yes, I know it’s because Nolan’s Batman trilogy is also the most critically lauded and awarded comic book franchise ever. Problem is that his bleek, moody, and dystopian societal outlook ONLY WORKS FOR F%*KING BATMAN. Batman is a dark character. So yes, the more gritty and realistic you make him, the better he gets. However, that formula DOES NOT work for the entire DC Universe. A flawed strategy I spoke about and foresaw during my Dark Knight Rises review almost a year ago. DC/Warner was effectively entrusting the construction of their cinematic universe to someone who DID NOT want to construct their cinematic universe.
You’re probably asking yourself why am I ranting about Man Of Steel, Chris Nolan and DC/Warner in the beginning of a Pacific Rim review. Well, it’s because DC/Warner does have another director in their stable that not only knows the material, but has a genuine love for the material. A man who should be constructing their universe. That man is Pacific Rim’s director Guillermo Del Toro. Give me a reason why not him. Worried Del Toro can’t bring fun, eclectic comic book characters like Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Wonder Woman convincingly to life? See Hellboy. Worried Del Toro doesn’t have the chops to do comic book perfect action scenes and sequences? See Blade 2. Worried Del Toro can’t give a film pathos and originality? See Pan’s Labyrinth. Worried that a comic book nerd would be the wrong choice to helm a superhero epic. See Avengers. Worried that a film like Justice League is just too big to bestow upon him. Well, Del Toro was the first person Peter Jackson asked to do The Hobbit before scheduling conflicts interceded. If Peter Jackson was willing to hand over the best fantasy franchise ever made to Del Toro, why is it such a far leap for DC/Warner to trust him with the JLA? Del Toro’s resume just grows and grows almost without notice. Pacific Rim is just another awesome notch on his belt.
Rim is the fulfillment of a promise Del Toro delivered when he leaked the film’s original title at Comic-Con. (Giant F%*king Robots Versus Giant F%*king Monsters) This is a tech versus terror smörgåsbord that draws breath from it’s Toho Company & Manga Studios predecessors and creates something amazingly fresh and original out of it. If I was a producer on that 2014 Godzilla movie or that long awaited Voltron film, I’d shut down shop right now. There is NOTHING I can think of that those two films can do to equal, let alone, top Pacific Rim. Yes, Rim may be cliched empty calories as far as it’s character archetypes and plot are concerned. However, it is the most tasty empty calories you’ll enjoy this summer and probably this entire year. I haven’t seen a film with as many GEEKGASM moments since The Avengers. Instead of the action scenes being incomprehensible, emotionally hollow, blunders, with the visual resonating effect of a strobe light…(Hello Battleship and EVERY Transformers movie)…they end up being well crafted, stunning, and cathartic displays of raw violence. The special effects here are, and I was convinced of this from just the trailer, the best I personally have ever seen. That is not hyperbole. Every effect, every monster tooth, every robot rivet, every building toppling explosion looks breathtaking and FINISHED. Every penny of the budget and every drop of sweat from the VFX crew is on the screen from beginning to end. Guillermo Del Toro understands the concept of fan service. And instead of shying away from it like most, he embraces it. He doesn’t mind having a character in a giant robot shoot a fallen monster, video game style, as a joke just to get a “Hell, Yeah!” from the audience. That is who I would want to make my comic book universe. Someone who wants to please BOTH the fans and the uninitiated. Someone who can have a balls to the wall battle scene and still have time to make the battle fun. Yes, fun. It is not a four letter word, literally and figuratively. Fun is a word that needs to be the lifeblood of genre movies like this. If it isn’t fun, then why the hell should we watch?
Recently, DC/Warner announced that Nolan won’t be producing the Justice League film. However, it’s a safe bet that they won’t have the sense or vision to pick someone like Guillermo Del Toro to take the reigns. They are losing the arms race to Marvel and it saddens me. Not because I want them to win. I love Marvel. It saddens me because the two companies competing is better for the audiences than one totally dominating the other. DC/Warner’s savior is right in their face flapping his arms like a cartoon character, and they still can’t see it. Don’t believe me? Watch Pacific Rim…imagine while doing so the same care, fun and GEEKGASM moments put into a Justice League film….cry your heart out when you realize that will probably never happen….then tell me I’m wrong.