There is no question that when it comes to imagining things, Guillermo Del Toro is a master. If filmmaking is a canvas, he’s the kid in art class with a big imagination. He lives for fantasy, he lives to envision and create new worlds within our own, and above all, he has fun doing it. When his personal notebook was released on the internet, it was revealed to be more than just a bunch of sketches. It was a portal into his mind, his belief and his art as a filmmaker. Each drawing of a character was riddled with arrows and notes pointing to detailed precision that would give way to its visual manifestation on-screen. This type of detail-oriented imagining is almost Tolkein-like, and it makes Guillermo Del Toro a unique filmmaker because you can always bank on seeing something visually that you’ve never seen before.
But with Pacific Rim unfortunately, it seemed he pushed all that aside to just make a fun ride. While it is undeniable that Del Toro had fun making this movie, clearly indicated by the eagerness with which he implemented visual gags such as the zoom in on the Newton’s cradle during a fight between the Jeager and the Kaiju, it didn’t require much thought or effort for him to create. Pacific Rim is essentially a film Del Toro could make blindfolded, because he is a master of visual atmospherics and fantasy-building. A story of undersea monsters fighting giant robots for most filmmakers is something rather “out there”, but for a filmmaker like Del Toro, who gave us such far-fetched yet believable myths like Hellboy, Cronos, and Pan’s Labyrinth, well… the idea is one of the dullest he could have possibly come up with. Again, when watching Pacific Rim, the composition of the fight scenes, and the visual dynamics that play between the mechanical/electrical engineering of the Jaegers with the alien-like biological fantasy of the Kaiju, you can’t help but feel entertained. The movie is clearly a “fun” one to watch, but the fun seems to be of the cheap variety, in that there wasn’t really effort put into making it meaningful instead of just fun. It’s the difference between just going out and playing “camelot” with some cardboard swords in the backyard with your dog, and actually taking the effort to make costumes, think up a story and some characters, invite over several friends to join along and make it a memory. Pacific Rim, in this sense, is a cheap outlet of time-pass for Del Toro, when his resources and his mind call for a much higher level of imagination and much more sincere sense of wonder.