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As awesome as it often is, Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is a film that is definitely not without its faults. Take, for example, the big action sequences, where piloted robots called Jaegers take on giant interdimensional aliens called Kaiju. Badass as these sequences are, there is definitely a disconnect between what's going on outside, and what's happening to the pilots, and it ultimately has an effect on their stakes. This is an issue that the upcoming sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising, is actually tackling head on, as producer Cale Boyter told us when we visited the set earlier this year:
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 inside 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.
Back in January, I joined three other reporters flying to Sydney, Australia to visit the set of director Steven DeKnight's Pacific Rim Uprising while it was still in production, and we had the pleasure of hanging out with Cale Boyter a lot during the day. The filmmaker was very open and honest about how the sequel is building on what was established with the first film, and part of that was addressing how the follow-up would be fixing certain issues. After noting that part of the movie's larger story would involve bringing in younger pilots, and discussing the action in the cockpit of the Jaegers (known as Conn-Pods), he specifically explained how the new movie would make it feel like the pilots are more directly in the action.
So what is the answer to making it feel like the pilots are inside the Jaegers doing battle and not just in some far-away control room? As you can see from the image at the top of the article -- taken from the teaser trailer -- one big part of it is the use of holograms. What is happening to the Jaeger the pilots are controlling will be specifically represented as CGI projected inside of the Conn-Pod. Cale Boyter explained,
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.'
While Pacific Rim has some great Kaiju vs. Jaeger battles, even the biggest die-hard fans will understand what the producer is saying here. There was some unquestionably amazing production design at work in the movie, and the whole concept behind the operation of the giant robots is great, but it did sometimes create the look of Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) using equipment at the gym. Pacific Rim Uprising looks like it will be taking those ideas and upgrading them to give the audience a better experience watching the Jaeger pilots work.
After years of waiting, Pacific Rim Uprising, starring John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi, is almost here. Thanks to our wonderful, extensive interviews with the movie's cast and filmmakers on set, we have tons more to share from the experience, so be on the lookout for that, and prepare for the blockbuster's theatrical arrival on March 23, 2018.