9 Things You Need To Know About The World Of "Pacific Rim" Before You See The Film
It's not just giant robots beating up huge monsters. It's just mostly giant robots beating up huge monsters. Buzzfeed spoke over the phone to Pacific Rim creator and screenwriter Travis Beacham. (Warning: Spoilers!)
1. Who is in the P.P.D.C (Pan-Pacific Defense Core).
Do you have to border the Pacific to be in the P.P.D.C.?
Travis Beacham: Other countries are involved, but it's mainly countries with a border on the Pacific Rim. Other countries contribute experts and personnel, but as needed — but the main member states are generally the ones bordering the Pacific Ocean. But not all the ones bordering the Pacific are member states. We'll definitely be getting into that in other material but yeah, we tried to think very realistically about the politics and the surrounding world that it takes place in.
Is it North Korea?
It's North Korea.
TB: (laughs) No comment.
2. The driving factors behind the Jaeger mechs.
Why giant mechs?
TB: There are a few things that didn't make it into the movie but were sort of repurposed dramatically for stuff in the graphic novel. I think from the beginning we always knew about the "Eureka" moment in which the Jaegars were created. I always thought it would be cool if you have this guy and he's watching news and trying to think, What do we do about these giant monsters? and then he sees his kid playing toys and has this idea of, Oh, we sort of already have the answer. And what I like about that is because, you know, anytime you watch, say, a zombie movie, it never takes place in a world where people have seen zombie movies.
What influenced the design and operation of the Jaegers?
TB: A lot of different mech stuff is an influence on it. Just having consumed all of this growing up, Voltron, Big O, Neon Genesis Evangelion, there are so many things about the conventions that are internalized. Someone made a comment the other day, "Oh, you need love to drive it. This is so anime." And while that wasn't a conscious decision, it was part of the subliminal matrix of influences.
3. Where the kaiju are coming from.
Are they only attacking from the Pacific and not, say, the Atlantic Ocean or the Great Lakes?
TB: Yeah. The outlet they're entering our universe from, this kind of fissure, is at the bottom of the Pacific. Just the depth and width of that ocean gives them a lot of medium they can travel between tracked or fought. So they come out of this breach and the monitors detect when they come out and what general direction they're going in, but we're not able to engage them really until they surface. We don't know what's on the other side of the breach…yet.
4. Hints to their origin and motivations.
Do the monsters bleed blue for effect or because it's easier to get past the MPAA?
TB: It was a purely otherworldly thing. It's extremely toxic, and having glowing blue blood as an expression of how alien they are.
Are all the kaiju the same species of creature?
They all have the same origin. They all have the same purpose. There are a few that look similar — different body types with variations. But for the most part they all look very different.
Have humans been able to reverse-bioengineer anything cool out of them?
TB: There is some interesting biological research that we'll get into in the movie and possibly even in later movies. But the general overall idea is that these things are very hard to work with. They're engineered to be sort of catastrophic in every sense.
Engineered by you and del Toro or by some third party in the universe itself?
TB: (laughs) Read into that what you will.
5. How catastrophic the damage to humanity has been.
How many of these monsters are we dealing with?
TB: By the time the movie starts, around 46 kaiju have attacked. And the Jaeger program is being dismantled, but there is some involuntary dismantling going on too. As the kaiju get more and more powerful and come more frequently, they also do a lot more damage than they used to.
The P.P.D.C. is fighting them off, but have people abandoned major population centers on the coast?
TB: There definitely has been a mass exodus for those who can afford to pick up and leave. One of the things, sort of, about the world of Pacific Rim is the economy has been very drastically effected by this. But you still have people, like those in tornado alleys or hurricane zones, who just refuse to move. There have also been some forced evacuations of coastal cities, just not in America.
In the graphic novel, they talk about "acceptable damage parameters" in the Jaeger simulations. What exactly are acceptable levels of damage?
TB: This is about what was wrong with the nuclear strike option. Not only were they dealing with nuclear fallout, but they were vaporizing all this toxic kaiju blood and spreading it over the same area in the radioactive zone and making a place extremely unlivable. So the Jaegers might always have a certain amount of blood and biomass spill, but you can contain to a small of an area as you can, say 10 city blocks.
6. The worst solution the world government has.
In the graphic novel, they're starting to build a wall. This just seems like a horribly flawed plan.
TB: Their intention is to wall off. The less realistic of the politicians would want to wall off the entire Pacific Ocean, but by the time the movie is starting, the plan is to wall off major population centers. The wall is just made of alloys and geared to be super heavy, but it's meant to be an absurd, overly bureaucratic, terrible solution.
Will the politicians want the mechs repurposed for commercial purposes, like rebuilding cities?
TB: The Jaegars are so purposely constructed as weapons, it would take a lot of retrofitting to get them to that level — and at this point, at the end of the graphic novel, the kaiju are coming so fast and so big, it's not so much they're retiring the mechs, it's just the kaiju are totaling them.
7. The negative side effects of piloting a mech.
What is the neural link exactly? Can pilots, say, feel pain if the Jaeger takes damage?
TB: Yes. Because the way it works, it's a two way street. If it was just a one-way street and you were just controlling the mech with your mind you would be numb to any kind of sensory feedback. It's like the current problem with cybernetic limbs. You need some way to get feedback from it, otherwise every time you try to pick up a styrofoam coffee cup, you don't know how much pressure to apply and you end up crushing it. In order for the Jaegars to achieve a level of motion and a level of balance and control, the pilots have to be able to sense the mech with their own nervous systems.
So a pilot could die if a kaiju critically damaged the mech?
TB: Yes. It wouldn't absolutely happen that way but it would be a strong risk because your body would think it was experiencing whatever the the Jaegar was experiencing and would react with a similar level of shock.
8. How strong the bond is between Jaeger pilots.
When recruits enlist for Jaeger training, do they have to sign up in pairs?
TB: You can come in any way you want, but the connection between two pilots is so important that usually people who enlisted together are the only ones to make it to the end of the training. If you come in by yourself, they'll do a personality test and that kind of thing to match you up with someone who's compatible, but you're definitely at a disadvantage. It's a trimester training program. So if you make it past the first test, even though you're not guaranteed to drive a Jaeger, you are guaranteed a rank and job in the P.P.D.C. if you want it.
Does being essentially mind-melded to another person while piloting the mechs have any weird effects?
TB: This is something that doesn't happen with all of them. It's known in the program as a phenomenon called "Ghost Drifting" when you sort of are aware of each other and experience each other's thoughts in a literal sense even when you aren't connected to the machine. We don't really explore that in the movie, though it is something that becomes important. This is one of the things about the graphic novel, really — that a lot of stuff in it foreshadows the movie, and there's a fair amount of stuff in it that foreshadows other stories down the line we hope to tell in one medium or another.
9. The best thing they had to leave on the cutting room floor.
Was there anything, either in the graphic novel or the film, that you loved but ended up cutting for one reason or another?
TB: There was one thing that was pretty cool but it just didn't work out. Initially, the two leads, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), spoke different languages for the bulk of the first half of the movie, but as they got calibrated to each other and were linked and finally began to trust one another, the way it was written was Raleigh would hear her speaking English even outside the link. I loved the idea conceptually, but when we started to think about how it would play out on screen, it seemed like a super esoteric thing for a popcorn summer movie.