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SDCC '12: PACIFIC RIM 'Cancels the Apocalypse' with Robot vs. Monsters

Hall H was blown away by the Legendary/Warner Bros. panel presentation before the first second of footage was even shown, because we saw something that's never been done here: the curtains surrounding the large main screen in Hall H pulled back and revealed two extra screens that extended along the walls, wrapping around and providing an extra few degrees for the footage that would play for the duration of the panel. I'm also fairly certain that they installed a new set of subwoofers in the hall, because the walls were rumbling with thunderous sound throughout the whole WB panel. Even Thomas Tull, the president of Legendary Pictures, seemed impressed, saying "All right...so that's how we do that," when the new screens finished their animated intros.

This is Guillermo del Toro's first film since 2008, and after some struggles getting multiple movies off the ground, he's turned to a story that totally makes sense for someone of his genre status: Pacific Rim, which is basically giant robots versus giant monsters. Del Toro was on hand with much of the cast (Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman) and debuted the first-look footage for us, which looked like a pretty perfect match with his sensibilities.

The CG looked a bit unfinished, but since the film doesn't come out for about a year, there's no need to worry about that. The robot designs were essentially like a 25 story Iron Man stomping through the streets and it looked pretty incredible as it beat the hell out of a massive CGI lizard creature. Idris Elba and the rest of the cast looked almost like they were dressed in armor and suits from the world of Ridley Scott's Prometheus, complete with the gorgeous graphics in all of the displays and readouts highlighted with oranges and purples that really pop on screen. There wasn't much given in the way of story, but the Comic-Con crowd was totally pleased with robots punching aliens...that's all the story we need for now.

Del Toro seemed genuinely thrilled to be directing a film again, and he spoke about his intentions for the movie. "I wanted to make not a war movie, but an adventure movie...not only great spectacle, but have a huge emotional content on them and a sense of awe...if you don't have a sense of awe and scale, everything is lost...What we went through was a process of developing a movie like fans. We wanted to create something new, to bring a different sense of drama, a different sense of scale...I can promise you this – the tone and the scale of the battles is astounding. What would happen in the real world if these things were there? I really wanted a movie that was able to recreate the sensation you have in an adventure movie of what it was like to be there, battling a thing the size of a skyscraper."

We didn't really get a ton of story details aside from what's previously been revealed about it, but del Toro was so passionate about creating a new world and bringing us something totally new that it was hard not to be swept up in the hype. He primed the audience for "some set pieces in here that have never been seen on film," and said that the film was going dark in the marketing department until this Christmas. The geek crowd rightfully went nuts, and I'm looking forward to seeing the full story behind what del Toro delightfully called "absolutely obscene robot porn." Pacific Rim hits theaters next summer, but there will be plenty of talk about this (including our own video review of the panel) to hold hardcore fans over until we see some more footage.

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