"This is a movie where the hardest thing to do is keep it simple," says director Guillermo del Toro, describing "Pacific Rim."
The film, which tells the story of giant robots fighting giant monsters, is del Toro's ("Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth") first directorial effort in five years.
It takes place in the future, where monsters from another dimension, known as the Kaiju, escape from a fissure in the ocean floor and attack. All the people of earth band together and build giant robots, called "Jaegers," to fight back.
The Jaegers are so complicated to operate that they require two human pilots, who are then mind-melded together. This is called "the Drift."
"The idea of the Drift is the first thing I pitched," says del Toro, recently in The City to promote the film.
"You can make a more profound use of the idea, but it would upset the tone. In my opinion, I'm making a movie for kids. I wanted to keep the tone balanced so that you have a certain hyperness to the movie," he says.
"But if we make a second movie, I would like to explore the Drift some more," he continues.
Changing his usual tactics on this movie, del Toro decided to allow for improvisation.
"I normally shoot really constraining the actors with the camera, almost like a ballet," he says.
Del Toro knew that actors Charlie Day, who plays a goofy scientist, and Idris Elba, who plays the stern leader of the Jaeger task force, would not perform well under constraint.
"I decided to shoot them with two cameras, and so I opened the door to us finding stuff on the day," del Toro says.
Another first: He got to work with artists from the Bay Area's Industrial Light & Magic on the movie's huge effects.
"The three things you can know about any VFX artist in the world is that they like monsters, robots and Cheetos" he smiles. "They were fulfilling their dreams, and they got well-fed."
Above all, del Toro says, "Pacific Rim" was one of the most enjoyable movies he'd ever worked on. He prepared for the worst and got the best.
"Some people say they like kittens and puppies. I like monsters and robots," he says. "I smile when you say those words, and I think that everybody involved in the movie felt the same way."