‘Pacific Rim’: Del Toro on directing big-budget kaiju epic [video]

July 14, 2013 | 3:42 p.m.

So, how was it for Guillermo del Toro to get behind the camera once more with “Pacific Rim” after a five-year gap since directing 2008′s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”?

“It was like riding a bicycle,” the writer-director said last week in an appearance at an advance screening of the film at the Edwards Long Beach Stadium 26 & IMAX in Long Beach, part of the Hero Complex Screening Series. “Except,” he added with a smile, “I seldom ride bicycles — but I remember when I did.”

“Pacific Rim” is set in a near future in which a shifting of tectonic plates has unlocked the portal to another world. Kaiju — the name and the genre come from the strain of Japanese B-movie cinema sired by Toho’s original “Godzilla” — pour through the rift, and before long coastal cities have been destroyed. To fight back, the military creates the Jaeger program, which entails the construction of 25-story robots operated by two pilots who control the machine through a psychic bond.

It’s the closest thing to live-action anime Hollywood has produced.

Although critics responded warmly to the film — The Times’ Kenneth Turan gave it a rave, calling Del Toro “a fantasy visionary with an outsized imagination and a fanatical specificity, a creator of out-of-this-world universes carefully conceived down to the smallest detail” — but it finished only third at the box office this weekend, behind the animated movie “Despicable Me 2″ and the Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups 2.”

(“We played to the fanboys,” Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., which distributed the film, told our sister blog Movies Now.)

Still, Del Toro has described the experience of making “Pacific Rim” as a joyful one. Hear more about what he had to say by watching earlier installments from last week’s interview here, here and here.

– Gina McIntyre | @LATherocomplex

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