Tranzilla (or Godformer)

Pacific Rim

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Rikuchi; directed by Guillermo del Toro


Look! Smashing through the city! It looks like some kind of giant, lumbering lizard! It’s… it’s Godzilla! He’s back and chomping on buildings, crushing cars and hurling buses! And he can’t be killed with military weapons! Run away!

Wait! That’s not Godzilla! It’s… a Transformer! How awesome! Those toy cars that clankingly convert into gigantic thundering machines that topple buildings and block traffic and battle each other! They’re invincible! Head for the hills!

Hold on! It looks like it’s Godzilla and Transformers! Argh! And it looks like you got your Transformer mixed up in my Godzilla movie!

Oh yeah, well it’s more like you got your Godzilla messing up my Transformer movie!

Hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

No, what?

Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Mako Mori in Pacific Rim.
Photo by Kerry Hayes, © 2013 Warner Bros.

If your Transformer were to be combined with my Godzilla, we just might be on to something!

Hey yeah, two great filmic tastes that would go great together! We could market it to people who really really like giant lizard movies…

And to people who really really like those dumb Transformer movies.

Yeah, and it would taste like… hey, just a minute! What did you say about people who like Transformer movies?!

Nothing, these two cinematic genres pull in millions of dollars and we could be…

You said people who like Transformer movies are “dumb” didn’t you? Well, you know what? I say people who like Godzilla movies are lowly reptiles! So there!

Now, now… let’s not go there! Let’s work together to make this combination something special — not just a Godzilla movie or a Transformer movie, but a “Godformer” movie!

Well, ok, but I’d rather call it a “Tranzilla” movie — has more “zing”!

Just like you Transformer-lovers to want “zing.” Ok, we’ll call it Tranzilla, but I insist that it must have human characters who are three-dimensional and with more substance, not like those insipid airheads from the Transformer movies.

Ok, well I say we have to have the stellar special effects of giant things smashing glass and metal skyscrapers so that it looks real cool, not like that fakey lame model-looking stuff from Godzilla and other monster movies.

Sure, we can do that, but in order for us to see these cool effects, we can’t have the 3-second, rapid-fire editing from the Transformer movies. That frenetic editing and choppy camera movement gives me a headache.

Whatever, but then I think we should have the humans use nuclear material — in their weapons and to power the giant walking Transformer machines — so that we can show that nuclear stuff isn't so terrifying — for power and protection.

If we have to be that explosive, then I think we need to also show how the disparate peoples of the world can ban together to confront a common global threat, and then see this collective get dysfunctional when resources run scarce and they have to respond to the needs of their own kind.

Fine, but while we’re at it, let’s not be constrained by the stiff and professorial scientists who drone on and on about the poor beasts’ upbringing. We need kooky scientists who are human and ambitious and provide comic relief.

If we must, but then we also must have the monsters possessing Godzilla-like abilities such as exuding lightning bolts and other oozing weapons on the Transformers — it can’t just be about metal clanging on metal.

Whatever you say, as long as we can have the lizards and the machines engaging in many many epic battles that escalate in intensity and weaponry — they should even have new, especially lethal weapons that they had all along but decide to deploy much later and only when things seem hopelessly dire for the fate of humanity.

I won’t object as long as we actually have a plot where things are really at stake and human beings are struggling with their personal demons as well as the giant walking, hulking ones and where the special effects are in service of that plot — even if it is a pulpy comic book plot of global annihilation. In other words, it has to be grounded in some modicum of realism — how people would actually behave in such circumstances — that sort of thing.

If you say so, but then we have to have great-looking sets and its gotta be big so that the Transformer crowd won’t be let down. The soundtrack has to be turned all the way up to 11 or more so that the audiences’ eyes and ears bleed.

If I agree to that, then I am going to insist that the giant Transformer-like machines be inhabited by humans — none of that sentient walking hardware with some sort of hokey spiritual cartoon nonsense. Humans have to be the heart of the machines and operate them in order to defeat the giant monsters. Oh, and it must take two of them in each giant machine so that they can bridge their minds and operate the thing as one. We’ll call that mind-melding gadget the “drift” and it will allow the duo to be aware of each other’s thoughts and feelings to add that extra dimension of tension and depth so lacking in the Transformer movies.

Ok, now I’m not following you. That sounds too complicated. We need to keep this at the “popcorn” level for the summertime audiences, and the Transformer crowd.

Well then, I have an idea. Let’s do this “drift” thing right now. You hop into the right chair and I’ll be in the left and we can merge our visions and you can get a flavor of this melded filmic concoction. And we’ll call it Pacific Rim!

Pacific Rim?! What kinda name is that?! Whatever happened to “Transzilla”?

You’ll see, when you get the “drift”!

Doug Young is Senior Policy Director in Governor John Hickenlooper’s Office of Policy and Research. He also shares his award-winning film critiques with readers of The Statesman.