The Jazz of Kaiju (怪獣) on the Pacific Rim

If you’re anything like me, you grew up loving kaiju—those giant monsters like Godzilla and Rodan and Monster X.  Years later you discovered animé and things like Macross, Dougram and Gundam. Your destiny was set, and thereafter you would have a passion for things giant that could turn cities to rubble and lay down enough firepower to leave a battlefield in ruin.

And then the market died.

Everyone wanted zombies and vampires and Jedi. There was no place for people like us to turn. I still lament the kaiju/mecha dead zone that was the 90s and post-turn-of-the-century decade. Let’s face it, Mathew Broderick’s sacrilegious reboot-attempt of Godzilla was criminal, and most of the kaiju films during that period all too frequently left a bad taste in the mouth. In fact, I threw up in my mouth a little with just about every one.

I was despondent. It’s as Colonel Kurtz said, “I… I… I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn’t know what I wanted to do!” I’ve spent the past five years—having said goodbye to old friends—yearning for the wonder years, for a halcyon youth where the impossible was something I could find on Saturday mornings and late-night, sub-standard cable channels.

And then I saw a movie preview that brought it all back… but on steroids… on crack… on angel dust mixed with napalm. That one preview gave me hope for a brighter future. The film is called Pacific Rim, and it combines not two, but three of my favorite facets of film: kaiju, mecha and Guillermo Del Toro. I haven’t been as excited about a new movie release ever, and that includes Avengers, Revenge of the Sith and all three Ironman installments.

I’ve watched every Pacific Rim preview that’s come out since (thank god for YouTube and fandom), and it looks simply spectacular. What’s more, what I’ve seen of the story thus far, there’s more than just the conflict of giant mecha going toe-to-toe with giant monsters. The dual-pilot angle has me really intrigued, and there’s a sense of the samurai that is laced throughout those delicious snippets of footage that I’ve chased down like a cat chases mice. Add to that the gift Del Toro has for both action movies and heroic characters, and I’m convinced that the movie will be—for me at least—the next great blockbuster.

This is the “Jazz of kaiju.” The promise of  Pacific Rim is the promise of regaining lost passion for something I loved, and it’s being resurrected in the body of gods borne from twenty-first century CGI.

HAIL KAIJU! HAIL MECHA! HAIL DEL TORO!

(I only hope my passions aren’t dashed upon the rocks of corporate greed and Hollywood’s propensity for making bad movies because they don’t understand the trope.)

P.S. Maybe I’ll even start making models again.

Q.

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