John Cooper gets his juices flowing for Del Toro's Pacific Rim watching with some other big mecha goodness…
I've watched the Pacific Rim trailer a good half dozen times now and it's got me in the mood for giant robot monster action. While I enjoy a bit of giant monster stomping action, I've always preferred big robots. From stand-alone movies to complex long-running anime, there's loads if you know where to look. In the warm-up to Guilermo Del Toro's skyscraper-bothering fun, here's a randomly-selected handful of mighty mecha joy that has floated my boat recently.
DAI-X: Star Fleet
Often mistaken for a show from the Gerry Anderson stable, Star Fleet featured a big, red and – despite the name – not-at-all-Welsh robot who can be blamed for me acquiring a taste for on-screen large scale destruction. As a child it made perfect sense to have head-, legs- and torso-spaceships that all came together into one big robot, but still have each pilot control their part of the body. When they did, the show would briefly abandon its puppet-and-wire-work in favour of a live action, uncoordinated tantrum by a grown man in a suit, stomping around a model set, smashing it to pieces. It was a thing of beauty to an eight year old. I even had the mail-order t-shirt.
The Iron Giant
The film was based loosely on the Ted Hughes novel “The Iron Man” – which I'm very fond of – so I dismissed it at first for going telling such a vastly different story. I now love it, acknowledging that it's clever in its own right, with its ’60s cold war themes, and, at heart, genuinely inspired by The Iron Man novel. The US print of the novel had to be re-named The Iron Giant so that Marvel comics didn't get its knickers in a twist. I'd like to see Tony Stark take on a Space-Angel-Bat-Dragon.
This 1990 movie was mentioned in SFX recently, and rightly so. In it, war has been and gone and now all disputes are handled by giant robots instead. Just before everything went CGI, Robot Jox has some beautiful model work. It might look a bit slow by today’s standards but if you can put up with its cheesier moments, it's a load of fun. A quick search on YouTube will find you the whole thing too. Nom Nom.
Arguably the most successful Western big robot franchise. Love the cartoon, love the comics – new and old – but I really can't be doing with Micheal Bay's live action trailer fodder, as I can't work out what's going on in the fight scenes. I could wave a mosaic of sheet metal samples in front of my face to achieve the same effect. Call me populist but I prefer generation one. Transformers the cartoon ran and ran well past the movie, and gradually absorbed more of its Eastern roots, morphing into Headmasters – a weird numbskulls hybrid – and then into Transformers - Super God Masterforce , by which point it looks like Optimus Prime hanging out in a completely different show.
I love the Big-O anime series and you should too, UK dub and all – because it's bonkers! A mash-up of Dark City , Blade Runner and Twin Peaks with oddly-shaped giant Mechas and a main protagonist fighting crime in his big robot “O”… but that's only half of it. The occupants of the domed Paradigm city have all lost their memory. The main protagonist is named Roger Smith. He has a butler like Bruce Wayne. He has a young female assistant called Dorothy, who happens to be kick-ass android. For each case he takes on he has a big room full of hourglasses. Oh, and when Roger climbs into the cockpit of his semi-sentient giant bot it his view screen pops up with the polite message “Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty”. Er, wow.
Pacific Rim is launched on Friday 12 July in the UK. Visit the official Facebook page here .