What’s not to like about ‘Pacific Rim’? You’ve got fun, engaging performances, spectacular visuals, giant robots (Jaegers) fighting giant monsters (Kaiju), and all of this is filtered through the lens of Guillermo del Toro. Well, no film is perfect, and even fans of ‘Pacific Rim’ (myself included) have to admit that the action in the Jaeger’s Conn-Pod (the cockpit) could sometimes feel a bit disconnected from the fight going on outside, as if our heroes were in a remote control room rather than squaring off with a Kaiju in the streets of a ruined city.
But that’s the thrill of sequels, isn’t it? The best ones don’t just give you more of the same, they run with what worked and refine the things that may have fallen flat. And that’s exactly what next year’s ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ is looking to do with its Conn-Pod scenes. As producer Cale Boyter explains:
“The action is a little bit more insane. That’s been a big thing. A big part of what I felt was in the first movie, it was tough to connect the action that was happening outside to what is going on in the Conn-Pod. So it didn’t make it feel amazing, something that you’d go to bed at night and dream about when you were a kid… Not only are kids piloting this thing, but with the design, we pulled the action inside.”
So how does the film set about doing that? With the events of ‘Uprising’ taking place a decade after the original film, it’s certainly easy enough to justify a few changes to the design and function of the Conn-Pods, but is it really that simple? Apparently it was, at least according to Boyter:
“They’re in the fight, they’re not so pent up. When they fight, it’s like they’re fighting, and the idea is to take anything you see outside the robot is then reflected in a hologram situation. So when a missile comes at them you see it coming in. We wanted to create something a little bit more visual and fun for kids to grasp onto. I think that’s a slight thing, but I think it’s going to help people go, “Oh, I can’t wait to do that.””
So essentially, it was about adding a visual element to the Conn-Pods that was missing before. In that way, you bring, hopefully, an element of danger right and a sense of immediacy right into the control room. And as the trailers have made clear, it’s not just missiles or whatever a Kaiju might throw at them that will appear (holographically) in the Conn-Pod, but the Jaegers’ own weapons as well, from swords to energy whips, to who knows what else. It should be quite a sight.
Directed by Stephen S. DeKnight, ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi. The film is due to arrive in theaters on March 23, 2018.