We were fortunate enough to catch a twenty minute sneak peek at one of 2013's biggest blockbusters (in every way),
While director Guillermo del Toro wasn't there in person, he did appear in a pre-recorded video introduction wherein he proudly explained how he's trying to build a very different type of blockbuster, and one replete with its own fully-fleshed out universe.
While there aren't any major spoilers in our reactionary thoughts below, there are a
few minor spoilers
, so turn back now if you don't want to have any of Pacific Rim's surprises spoiled for you!
The first scene was a voiceover-heavy introduction to the birth of the Kaiju and the antiverse from which they're spawned.
As (we think) Charlie Hunnam's Jaeger pilot Raleigh narrates his way through an abbreviated lesson in Kaiju 101, we're told that the first Kaiju was born from an inter-dimensional rift torn between the ocean plates of the San Francisco Bay.
Cue a montage of the destruction that followed, as news reports stress the catastrophic aftermath, and we see the world struggling for over six days to subdue just one lone Kaiju.
Cities are destroyed, jetfighter bullets bounce off its hide like nerf darts, and skyscrapers implode into confetti.
The news reports shift away from the massacre and onto the creation of the Jaeger program, and it's explained that the giant mech-robots are controlled by two human pilots who have to mind-meld to operate it. Soon, the world - united against a common foe - turned the tide, and began winning.
But with victory came an ambivalence, as Jaeger pilots became celebrities and Kaijus were reduced to cuddly merchandise opportunities.
From there the action cut to a stark and beautiful snowy beach, and a father and son walking along with a metal detector. The quiet was soon punctured by the steady, increasingly cacophonous approach of a Jaeger, and then out of the shadows steps a battered, beaten and near-broken metal giant.
Just like the poster that was released a few months back, the humans are easily dwarfed by the enormity of the Jaeger as it slowly collapses to the ground around them.
From the wreckage spills a bloodied and equally-as-broken Raleigh, and he falls to the ground unconscious, and without his all important co-pilot.
It's a staggering, breathtaking scene that brings the epic scale of the movie and its inhabitants into sharp focus.
Then we jumped to the interior of what looked like a Jaeger HQ situated in the heart of Hong Kong. Idris Elba's Lieutenant-Commander Stacker Pentecost leads Raleigh and his new co-pilot Mako (played by Rinko Kikuchi) through an enormous mech hangar. Fellow super-stylised co-pilots are introduced one-by-one (including an intriguing set of triplet brother pilots, and a duo with shockingly white, anime-style hairdos), as Stacker notes that the tide has turned on humanity and they're losing Jaegers faster than they can build them.
Raleigh and Mako hop into their new and improved Jaeger - called Gypsy Danger - and they begin the process of starting up the skyscraper-sized robot via an array of snazzy, neon-coloured HUDs and the all important mind-meld.
Although Mako can't focus properly, and as the camera zips around their collective visualised memories, she becomes focused on a traumatic moment from her past - and we flashback to Mako as a young girl, stranded and alone in a city being demolished by an impressive, terrifying and crustacean-y Kaiju. As she flees from the horror above her, Raleigh enters her memory and tries to stir her back to reality.
Only his attempts appear futile, as her emotions over-power and she begins powering up the Kaiju's armoury back in the real world. Whilst it's still in the hangar, and surrounded by other pilots.
Visually and narratively, it was intriguing to see that del Toro's keen to explore the psychological ramifications of the mind-meld process, and suggested the human characters will get as much focus as their enormous face-smashing brethren.
The final scene was more of a straight-forward Jaeger vs Kaiju battle - but one that del Toro teased starts in the oceans of Hong Kong, and ends up in space via a 25 minute city-levelling fight of stunning proportions.
The action was fast and furious, cutting between Raleigh and Mako in-Jaeger delivering the punches and missiles of the attacking Godzilla-meets The Hulk's Abomination-alike. Neon blood flies, jaws rip apart and cranes, haulage tankers and shipping containers are used as impromptu weapons along the way.
Subtle, it ain't. Nor is it completely clear at times, as monster mass and robotic metal clash at a speedy back-and-forth punch-up. But while it isn't the clearest of scenes, it's certainly adrenalised. If nothing else, the fights are going to deliver on their 'BIG-ASS MONSTERS PUNCH BIG-ASS ROBOTS IN THE FACE' teen-boy fantasy.
The scenes shown to us were intended to give us a proper flavour of the different aspects of
's impressively detailed and vivid world, and in that respect, it totally worked, and left us wanting to see more.
Each of the Kaijus seem distinctively designed and consistently jaw-dropping in their heft and predatory aggression, while the Jaegers are visually distinctive and fallible enough to have you rooting for them, and the human pilots look set to have enough individual backstories awarded to them to ensure they're little more than robot ciphers.
But it's the world that really draws you in - with heady anime influences (
in particular), and a beautiful, diverse and bright colour palette bringing the characters, Jaegers and Kaijus to life, we're looking forward to being able to spend a couple of hours in a new Guillermo del Toro-envisioned world.