Global News reports that Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim 2 will begin shooting at Pinewood Toronto Studios this November. This news comes after del Toro recently used a Comic-Con appearance to re-affirm his intentions to go in front of the cameras on Pacific Rim 2 this year even though Universal pushed the release date back from April 7th, 2017 to August 4th, 2017. The delay is reportedly to accommodate what is expected to be a lengthy post-production process for such an effects-heavy film since the sequel will delve further into the world of the kaiju instead of re-hashing robots vs. monsters. An animated series as well as planned comic books will bridge the gap between films.
We can thank China for this. Pacific Rim, like so many other summer 2013 movies (e.g., The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D., etc.), was a box office disappointment in the United States and Canada, barely cracking $100 million ($101m). Warner Bros. and Legendary, with “new franchise” on the mind, took a big risk on the project, giving del Toro a budget ($190m) two times bigger than his previous high water mark (Hellboy 2’s $85m). What he made is essentiallyGodzilla vs. Transformers, as Godzilla-like creatures (called kaiju) emerge from the ocean one day and lay waste to coastal cities. In response, humans build humongous robots (called jaegers), each of which are piloted by two people, to serve as Earth’s primary line of defense. It is a big-budget ode to B movies with thinly drawn characters and infectious action sequences that either leaves you reverting to a childlike state of involuntarily fist-pumping at the big, loud things or checking your watch and lamenting a sense of having felt let down by del Toro and company.
Some critics labeled it as a smarter version of a Transformers movie, but audiences apparently decided, “Yeah, we’d rather just have an actual Transformers movie.” A month into its theatrical run, Pacific Rim was treading water, pre-release talks of potential sequels a distant memory.
Then it opened in China, where it set records for any WB movie and became the very, very rare blockbuster to gross more in China ($111m) than North America ($101m). That pushed its worldwide gross up to $411m, meaning they doubled their budget but did so largely thanks to China, i.e., the country that only gives studios a 25% cut of ticket sales. When Legendary Pictures jumped ship to Universal they took Pacific Rim with them and talked their new bosses into taking a second crack at this. With the rate at which China’s film market is growing these days Universal’s decision might pay off; Pacific Rim 2 should be huge in China in 2017.
But are you excited? At one point, I was ecstatic, writing on this site over a year ago, “Finally, we got what we wanted – confirmation that Legendary Pictures is indeed moving forward with a Pacific Rim sequel. Sure, the first movie wasn’t perfect, and, sure, it actually ended in such a way that it’s not really clear what you’d even do in a sequel. But, dangit, we want Guillermo del Toro back to bang his cgi robots and cgi monsters together like an adorable kid playing with his toys.”
Going even further back, when I reviewed the movie for this site I loved it, almost in spite of myself, “Pacific Rim is an audacious mix of story elements and plot points borrowed from other sources and should result in a horrible, derivative mess, yet it somehow, almost inexplicably, ends up being a ridiculously enjoyable movie.”
I mostly singularly praised the big action set pieces, referring to the defense of Hong Kong sequence as “easily the most thrilling thing I have experienced at the cinema this summer.” However, I also joked, “it is not to immune to the Transformers problem of struggling to differentiate one CGI combatant from another. There is an unfortunate amount of, ‘That was awesome! I think. Well, it was loud. Okay, what the hell just happened? Did the jaeger get hit or was it the kaiju?’ Plus, any of the sequences involving jaegers not containing either Raleigh or Chuck as one of its pilots are a little underwhelming because those other Jaeger pilots are no more developed than any of the nameless pledges from The Hunger Games.”
In the years since then, I have been open to the idea of a sequel because how the heck do you say no to anything Guillermo del Toro wants to do? Mr. Pans Labrynth has earned our ongoing attention, and there seems to be a lot of buzz for his upcoming gothic horror movie Crimson Peak (10/17/15). Plus, Ron Perlman is doing his best to will “Hellboy 3” into existence.
However, I’ve never felt particularly compelled to re-watch Pacific Rim. When it was on heavy rotation on HBO I never stopped to watch it for longer than a couple of minutes. I still don’t own it on Blu-Ray, though I hear it looks gorgeous. When I look back on it, I struggle to remember how much I loved the action scenes. I barely even remember any of the characters other than Idris Elba as “Badass Military Leader” and Rinko Kikuchi as Maiku. I vaguely remember being confused by how much the ostensible main character played by Charlie Hunnan looked exactly like his chief rival.
That’s not to say I’ve completely changed my mind about the movie and now hate it. I remember it being a lot of fun, but I also remember it being kind of enjoyably dumb, with cliché after cliche piled on. Spoiler alert, the bad guys are defeated at the end, and the story is over. A sequel will presumably answer the question of where exactly the kaiju came from in the first place. However, I am beginning to wonder if that’s a question people are really asking anymore. I will see Pacific Rim 2 because of Guillermo del Toro, and I’d be a fool to doubt him. Whatever he makes will probably be great. Right now, though, Pacific Rim 2 is not something I’m really dying to see. Maybe I just need to re-watch to be reminded why I loved it so much two years ago.
What about you?