Different kinds of monsters, or, Del Toro’s decline…

Now, I’m a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro. Cronos was an excellent film, not least because it featured a vampiric protagonist and some awesome set-pieces (that watch!). Then there’s the classic Pan’s Labyrinth, which features some of the weirdest looking and imaginative monsters on screen I’ve seen for a while, and was rightfully met with the critical acclaim it deserved. Some hated Hellboy, but the first one at least wasn’t a bad film. And although the source material wasn’t his, there was still a healthy dose of monsters involved. 

I’d rekindled my love of him last year when I read The Strain trilogy, which links to my research perfectly (9/11 + vampires) and things were starting to go so well again.

But then, oh no. OH NO. Pacific Rim. 

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Before I get bashed in the face with some Del Toro – loving logic, let me explain why I think it’s going to be a disappointment.

1. The trailer. I know, thou shalt not judge a film by its trailer…but in this case. The sound effects, the panning shots, the overdramatic fight between humanity and the aliens….everything screams TRANSFORMERS. And not in a good way. I mean Michael Bay’s bastardised version of the franchise. 

2. The film is about pitting aliens against robots. It’s clearly aimed at 13 year old boys. So why do I care, considering I am neither of these things? Well, Del Toro has become a master of monsters, and he’s trying to position aliens and robots as monsters. Which they’re clearly not.

3. Del Toro has described the film as a “beautiful poem to giant monsters.” See the above point. Robots are mechanical and even those with AI cannot be imbued with the emotions of a monster or villain that are required – vengeance, anguish, psychopathy. They’re cold functioning circuits. And aliens…well, they’re closer to the line but still without the classic traits of the monster.

4. He’s written a story about the incredibly cliched ‘us versus them’ situation. Which, arguably, is a staple of monster fiction – as they are opposing, they are inhuman, and they define our humanity. But if you were going to make a film about robots versus aliens, why not make it more complex than just a glorified battle sequence? (with undoubtedly a brief romantic plotline thrown in there, a hero ‘stepping up’ and a bad guy dying…)

I’m only angry about this because I love you, Del Toro. Go back to what you’re good at. Put down the Transformers DVDs and come back to the light….

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