Monday, 29 April 2013

Pacific Rim - New poster released

A new theatrical poster has been unveiled for visionary director, Guillermo del Toro's (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) latest movie, Pacific Rim.

The poster for this big-budget sci-fi flick is quite visually stunning and depicts a giant robot seemingly terrorising a busy city street. The image is chaotic and evidently extremely reliant on the aesthetic impact of CGI, which will impress some and bore others. The image is bleak and full of menace, which indicates that humanity has no chance against such an unstoppable foe.

The cars appear to all be abandoned and a devastating explosion looks to be on the verge of engulfing the entire street. This robot is causing mass destruction so it's little wonder that the civilians have abandoned their cars and fled.

But wait... these robots are on our side!

Ok so on the basis of the poster alone, you'd be forgiven for assuming that the giant robot is intentionally doing some serious Cloverfield-style damage to the city street. It's not. The image implies that this giant robot is the main antagonist. It's not.

Why is this one-sheet so misleading?

The giant robots are known as Jaegers and were built by humanity to combat the alien threat of giant monsters known as the Kaiju. These Kaiju emerged from a mysterious crevice in the Pacific Ocean and have wreaked havoc ever since (hence the need for gigantic robots). So, with this in mind, why has vital plot information been omitted from the poster?

The design strategy focuses far too heavily on the visual impressiveness of the movie, sacrificing logic, narrative integrity and even character. (I'm sure this will all be rectified soon...)

Aside from the fact that this image is misleading, my main concern is that it may be alienating wider audiences in an attempt to WOW them. Yes it looks impressive, but so did the Transformers Trilogy and Terminator Salvation, giant robots are nothing new and Pacific Rim is at risk of being labelled as a rip-off.

Do these images look slightly familiar?

They are from the 2004 box-office bomb, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

What about this?

It's from a 1950s Superman cartoon.

The giant robot spectacle has been done to death... they just have a bigger budget this time. However, the problem lies with brand recognition. Transformers and Terminator are strong, recognisable brands with instant commercial appeal. By comparison, Sky Captain did not and subsequently bombed despite the star power of Angelina Jolie and (to a lesser extent) Jude Law.

The danger for Pacific Rim is that it falls under the Sky Captain bracket or more recently, 2012's Battleship.

Next up, the title... Pacific Rim.

The Pacific Rim refers to all the nations situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, which means that this film will likely have a global threat as the aliens (or monsters) emerge from the Pacific Ocean. None of that is evident in this poster, it simply promises that the giant robot will cause mass destruction in a busy city street. Ok, so the street is unspecified and could be anywhere, but that doesn't imply a global scale threat emerging from the ocean.

After the disastrous box-office performance of Battleship, it is understandable why Warner Bros. seems hesitant to put too much emphasis on the ocean-setting. But what about the aliens/monsters or the humans? This isn't a film solely focused on robots.

Aside from the visual aesthetics, which are very impressive, the strongest aspect of this poster is the tagline:

Though technically it should be "To Fight Monsters We Created Giant Robots" but it still does the job. Ultimately it is catchy, albeit slightly inconsistent with the rest of the poster.

To conclude, I strongly feel that this is a poorly designed poster for a potentially fantastic film. Regardless of the impressive visuals, it feels bland and misleading, which may prove to be detrimental to the film's commercial reception. Guillermo del Toro is an indie director, who is not known for his big budget CGI movies. However, he is known for his strong, character-driven narratives and none of that is evident in this poster, which is a shame because it is one of the director's defining attributes.

If these giant robots are humanity's last hope... they might as well give up because they don't seem to be very good.

Here's the synopsis for Pacific Rim:

In the near future, giant monsters identified as "Kaiju" arise from a crevice in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a war which takes millions of lives and quickly consumes humanity's resources. To combat this new threat, a special type of weapon is designed: massive robots, known as Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. As time passes, even the powerful Jaegers prove almost defenceless in the face of a relentless enemy. On its last stand and on the verge of defeat, the remaining defending forces of mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the early trials of the mechanical titans. Together, they must stand as the human race’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Pacific Rim is directed by Guillermo del Toro and stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. The film is due for release in the US and UK on 12th July 2013.

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