With giant robots versus giant monsters saga Pacific Rim, director Guillermo Del Toro takes his most gigantic leap into the mainstream so far. Even though this is a studio blockbuster with a budget to match, the giant monsters and giant robots are very much part of Del Toro’s wide pantheon of influences.
Growing up in Mexico, Del Toro was exposed to all manner of Japanese anime on TV which dealt with huge mechanical warriors and he also had access to the Kaiju classics such as Godzilla and Mothra. Del Toro’s other influences are so pronounced and deep-seated that he has become something of a brand as a director like Tim Burton and David Lynch. You definitely know when you are watching one of his films. It will usually be some kind of dark riff on fairy-tale tropes full of twisted and tragic beings, either with a kid in peril or some kind of kindly old man in the mix somewhere. Ron Perlman will also appear more often than not.
Despite being attached to so many films over the years, Del Toro has not made a film since 2008 and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. This is mainly due to spending so much time on pre-production for The Hobbit which fell apart when MGM had their financial troubles. Should Pacific Rim be a monster hit then it might become easier for him to get some of his stalled projects made. So we could eventually end up seeing At the Mountains of Madness, The Coffin, The Haunted Mansion, Hellboy 3 and his proposed third part of a loose Spanish language trilogy which started with The Devils Backbone and continued with Pans Labyrinth, and apparently has to do with the end of the world. His fans won’t have to wait long for more work from him however; a haunted house saga named Crimson Peak is currently in production along with the pilot for the TV series of The Strain based on the three books he co-wrote with Chuck Hogan.
Regardless of what comes next, Del Toro still has a quality list of films that currently define his talent. Here are ten of the best moments from the man so far:
10. The nice neighbourhood kids die in Mimic
Guillermo Del Toro’s second heavily compromised movie was his first experience working with a big studio and he faced budget cuts just before filming. This meant that his epic bugs vs. humans saga in New York had to be cut down to fit the new budget.
Nonetheless it’s still a riveting and fairly intense monster movie and the key scene which apparently had studio execs shuffling nervously in their seat was something shocking and unheard of for the time.
The two nice neighbourhood kids (the goofy one and the fat one) who sell Dr Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) the bug samples they picked up under the city, die screaming in the tunnels at the sharp end of giant cockroaches legs. It was a scene that showed a) how nasty the giant cockroaches were and b) that Del Toro had balls. The scene was left intact and definitely adds to the tension.