Director Guillermo del Toro will make a big splash with American audiences on Friday with ‘Pacific Rim’, the “monsters vs robots” movie. Discovering del Toro is Flixnerd’s exclusive peek into the visionary director’s filmography.
I first found myself discovering del Toro back in 1993 with his film ‘Cronos’ and his tale of a man who opens a Pandora’s Box of troubles when he uses a device that promises eternal life to its owner.
While I was too young to appreciate the languid pacing of ‘Cronos’, I was impressed with the style of del Toro’s film. I felt as if I had been transported to a fantastical world where the beautiful and grotesque merge in a sublime and yet, unholy marriage.
In 1997, del Toro released ‘Mimic’ to critical and financial success. ‘Mimic’ benefitted from its casting of then-up-and-coming actors Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam as entomologists scurrying to find a cure for virulent bugs that hunt humans.
Guillermo del Toro again impressed me with his visual style, dark and ominous, as well as with his knack for putting characters in jeopardy whom we care about. Character development and atmospheric suspense….discovering del Toro was consistently impressing me. Now, I became a fan.
In 2001, the movie ‘El Espinazo del Diablo’ or ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ laid the groundwork for what would later become his most critically acclaimed film, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.’
We’ll return to ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ in a moment.
‘Hellboy.’ This is the moment where del Toro enamored himself of fanboys across the globe. Ron Perlman as the wiseass, cigar-chomping, stone-fisted, cat-loving protector of mankind brought Mike Mignola’s cult comic book to vibrant life.
The release of ‘Hellboy’ in 2004 signified an arrival of sorts for del Toro. Working with his largest production budget to date, del Toro created a vision onscreen of supernatural crime-fighting freaks that caught on with audiences.
In 2006, del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ delivered a moving, imaginative, and sometimes gruesome fairy tale to audiences. Not only was the film a fantastical journey into a dark realm, it also was layered with political and social subtext about Fascism, sexuality, and the loss of innocence.
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is a companion piece, of sorts, with ‘The Devil’s Backbone.’ In ‘The Devil’s Backbone,’ the murder of a child results in a vengeful spirit haunting an orphanage for boys during the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
Just as in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ the evil human characters are Fascists while the idealistic children and elderly characters are portraying the “weaker” Socialists, whose parties’ political demise was underway in Latin America.
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the critical praise which surrounded it, showed the film world that the “serious” film critics and awards voters were discovering del Toro, too.
Guillermo del Toro was nominated for an Academy Award for his original screenplay, as well as the film garnering a nomination for “Best Foreign Language Film” in 2007. Ultimately, Oscars were awarded to cinematographer Guillermo Navarro for “Achievement in Cinematography” along with Eugenio Caballero and Pilar Revuelta for “Art Direction” in del Toro’s intelligently fantastical ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.’
Guillermo del Toro’s passion for film is well-known. The director is as much of an ambassador for genre films as he is the creative force behind them. He is currently developing multiple genre projects including: a television version of ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ a live-action film of ‘Pinocchio,’ an adaptation of his collaboration novel ‘The Strain’ into a TV movie, and a rumored second sequel to ‘Hellboy.’
Guillermo del Toro isn’t some “director du jour” who is chosen to direct a hot studio concept. He is an impassioned and visionary creator whose unbridled love of film and childlike enthusiasm compel him to share his characters with audiences. Guillermo del Toro makes films that he wants to see, too.
With ‘Pacific Rim,’ perhaps American movie-goers will find themselves embracing and discovering del Toro also.
In an homage to the giant monster or “Kaiju” movies made popular by Japanese film studio Toho decades ago, del Toro is determined to give audiences a modern film where the heroes and villains are larger than life.
If any one director is proven to be a perfect choice in sharing a visually stunning, fantastical action movie with heroes that audiences will cheer for…del Toro is your guy.
‘Pacific Rim’ hits theaters nationwide on Friday, July 12.