Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by Peter Sciretta
The Hong Kong Incident Zone set was a huge set of mass destruction. Among the rubble is a four-stall bathroom which has been ripped out of a skyscraper building; overturned cars; a street of storefronts torn apart; pieces of flickering neon; air conditioning units; and a double-decker bus which has almost been ripped in two. The central point features the 50 foot wide top of a skyscraper, featuring a huge sign for the Hong Kong Reserve Financial, completely ripped off and sitting in the rubble. Street lights and support beams are bent and ripped apart. A blue wheelbarrow carrying blue pieces of Kaiju organs. A massive hole in the ground is fifteen feet deep. This is where the anti-Kaiju refuge area that we saw on a different set would be placed.
One of the art directors said this is the first time they dressed a set using forklifts and jackhammers. Much of the set is made with real materials, unlike most sets.
The set was built as a non destroyed Hong Kong, then destroyed and redressed to play as a different area, post-monster battle. The Hong Kong set was used as four different streets and sets, with the placement and dressing of elements changed each time.
Legacy effects (formerly Stan Winston’s company) created the practical effects on the film.
They had to build different helmets/suits for the different Jaeger pilot groups. The Chinese jaeger helmets are dark red and have a big star as part of the visor. The Russian helmets look a bit more steampunk, brown leather material mixed with a bronze/gold-like metal, with eye holes like camera lenses. The helmets are constructed with custom LED lights and a communication system which allows actors to hear their lines and the crew. The helmets also have a working fan system built in.
The screenplay has 40 pages of suit work, and Legacy constructed 34 suits for the movie.
Legacy also constructed stunt masks for the stunt performers, which feature a real-looking mask of the star actor’s face. Since the helmets feature a wide open face, this helps complete the effect that the actors are doing the stunts without expensive facial replacement. We’ve seen these kind of latex masks before on Terminator Salvation.
Guillermo and screenwriter Travis Beacham went through 15 drafts of the script.
Del Toro wanted this film to have intense battles and feel really visceral while keeping a marketable rating. There isn’t much gore and the Kaiju blood is blue, which doesn’t mean much to the MPAA.
Guillermo says that At the Mountains of Madness and The Hobbit were great training grounds for this movie, which helped them prep this fast and get going quickly. del Toro came on board after hearing just the pitch alone, and was originally attached as a producer when he was prepping to direct Mountains. When Mountains was dropped he quickly jumped on this project.
Tom Cruise was originally considering this project after Mountains failed to move forward. But he ended up going with other projects instead. (From the timeline, it looks like those projects were Jack Reacher and Oblivion).
Guillermo said he would gladly revisit these characters and this world, but he has no idea if there will be a sequel.
We will see glimpses of the Antiverse, which is the other side of the breach from which the Kaiju emerge. It’s a different dimension with a completely different gravity and sense of time. It has a fantastic look, with very polarized color.
We won’t learn the monsters’ entire game plan. Guillermo del Toro believed that if you know too much about their plan, even in the end, the excitement goes away. We will learn why the Kaiju are coming to our universe and the answer is terrifying. But answering that question poses new questions. There are only a few minutes in the movie featuring the Antiverse, so a lot of mystery remains.
What do they do with a monster’s body when they kill it? What happens when a Kaiju poops? We will find the answers to these questions.
The speed of the robots is governed a bit by gravity and a bit by the action. Each robot has a different style of movement.
Del Toro didn’t want the monsters in each country to be married to a landmark, for instance a monster attacks Paris and attacks the Eiffel tower. Although, as you’ve seen in the marketing, one Kaiju does violence to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.