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'Pacific Rim 2': Can it recapture the glory of the original?

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(Read caption) 'Pacific Rim' stars Charlie Hunnam (l.) and Rinko Kikuchi (r.).

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A sequel to director Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 movie “Pacific Rim” is moving forward, with a director reportedly having signed on to helm the film.

Steven S. DeKnight, who has served as a director and executive producer for the Netflix series “Daredevil” and created the Starz TV program “Spartacus,” will direct the sequel to “Pacific.” 

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The original “Pacific” movie was co-written by del Toro with Travis Beacham and took place on an Earth where creatures known as Kaiju are attacking various cities. Humans decide to fight them by having pilots use robots, known as Jaegers, to battle the Kaiju.

The movie received mixed reviews and did not do overwhelmingly good box office business in the US. But the film performed better abroad and that may be the reason a sequel is now moving forward.

“Pacific” seemed to be somewhat of a passion project for del Toro. “Monsters have always spoken to a part of me that is really, really essential," the director told the Associated Press upon the film’s release. "All of my life, I felt out of place. The tragedy of every monster in every movie is that they are out of place. That's the essential plight of monsters.”

The film was inspired by the Kaiji genre of Japan, which has monsters attacking and includes the “Godzilla” films. But AP writer Jake Coyle wrote of del Toro’s process on “Pacific,” “He boxed up his [Kaiju] DVDs before starting work on ‘Pacific Rim,’ intent on making a movie that wasn't a mere homage.” 

While “Pacific” owes various aspects of the movie to the Kaiju genre, the characters of the film, including Jaeger pilots Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), are original, as is the story.

That’s something that’s somewhat of a rarity in today’s Hollywood blockbusters, which are mostly drawing inspiration from comic books, novels, and previous movies. In 2013, the year in which “Pacific” came out, the list of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of the year is dominated by projects based on previous material, with the exception of a couple of films like the space-set movie “Gravity.” 

Even when not creating a blockbuster, del Toro has gone with original stories, though that’s more common with smaller-scale films. Both last year’s Gothic tale “Crimson Peak” and and the Spanish-language World War II story “Pan’s Labyrinth” were either written or co-written by the director. 

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“Pacific” co-writer Beacham told the Los Angeles Times at the time of the movie’s release that he felt new material was lacking in Hollywood.

“I grew up in the ’80s and you had these original, big-budget sci-fi adventure things all the time, not based on any source material – you’d have ‘Gremlins,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘E.T.’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ the list goes on and on,” Beacham said. “I would love it so much if ‘Pacific Rim’ was but the first in a new wave of that sort of thing. I feel like as an industry, we’ve gotten too dependent on source material originated in other mediums. I’m as big of a fan of it as anyone else is…. But in addition to that sort of thing, it would be great if we had more content that was originated in the film industry itself.”


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