Why Guillermo del Toro Is Having The Most Fun In Hollywood Right Now

Why Guillermo del Toro Is Having The Most Fun In Hollywood Right Now

The imagination of del Toro continues to inspire.

Big budget original film ideas are few and far between. That's not to say Hollywood's recent favor for adaptations and reboots is completely lacking in originality, but that every year it seems more and more of the biggest blockbusters are live action remakes, novel adaptations, or additions to past franchises. In other words, Hollywood is playing it safe, sticking with the ideas that are guaranteed to make money because they have already proven they can.

Among the slew of trailers for superhero films and fifth installments to dying franchises that came out this summer, though, was a trailer for Guillermo del Toro's newest fairy tale: The Shape of Water, set for release this December. Del Toro's original storyline follows a deaf janitor through a secret government lab in 1962 as she uncovers the lab's experiments on a newly discovered humanoid sea-creature. Del Toro's newest film joins tens of original film concepts written, directed, and produced by himself since 1993. From a little girl's dark fairy tale entwined with the horrors of being a child of the Spanish Civil War in Pan's Labyrinth to a Brontë-esque horror film about a writer turned ghost whisperer whose love story traps her in the haunted halls of her husband and his sister's dilapidated mansion in Crimson Peak, his work is not only original, but endlessly fun, creative, and thoroughly thought-out.

The film that best displays del Toro's willingness to allow his imagination to wander and his abilities as a filmmaker, though, is Pacific Rim. The 2013 action film creates a world in which humans decide that the best way to kill giant aliens is to build giant robots powered by pilots mentally linked through relived memories that linger and stick in their partner's subconscious. While inspired by Japanese kaiju movies and anime, the story is completely del Toro's and co-writer Travis Beacham's. Under del Toro's direction, the film becomes a colorful, optimistic, and completely over the top journey, which is exactly why it succeeds.

Del Toro shares none of modern Hollywood's fear of cheesiness and extremes, allowing him to play with huge concepts and invest himself wholeheartedly in them. His films revel in their absurdity with the enthusiasm of a child playing pretend. Why can't a giant robot pick up a boat and swing it like a baseball bat at an alien? Why can't the robot wait until just the right dramatic moment to reveal it had a sword attachment? He never lets logic or the fear of going too far with his imagination keep him from letting it run wild throughout every movie he creates, inevitably offering the same child-like enthusiasm to his audience in the process.

Del Toro uses his bold style to enhance his characters, as well. Action movies so often forget that no matter what happens in the plot, the story's characters are what take it there. In contrast, none of del Toro's characters can be described simply. One of Pacific Rim's main characters, Raleigh, defies the norms for the brooding hero through combining that aspect of his characterization with a soft and loving personality. Despite a tragic death being literally burnt and scarred into his side, he remains gentle and hopeful. His co-lead, Mako Mori, is such a well-crafted character that she inspired a test on-par with the Bechdel Test and other tests that examine the strength of female characters in film: the Mako Mori Test, in which at least one female character completes her own narrative arc, specifically one that does not rely on a male character. Though the point of view character is Raleigh, Mako's story is what drives Pacific Rim. Those two characters are joined by a set of incredibly detailed major and supporting characters, from the program's director, Stacker Pentacost, to its scientists, Hermann Gottlieb and Newt Geiszler, to its team of Jaeger pilots. Each has a story to uncover, pieced together through memory montages, room and costume designs, and dialogue, that becomes an integral part of the film's heart.

This attention to the people who make up del Toro's universes is evident in every film he creates. Pan's Labyrinth makes ample room for Mercedes and Pedro's story, despite the majority of it existing separately from Ofelia's arc. Crimson Peak makes sure that you not only fear its ghosts, but learn about and sympathize with them. No character exists without a reason.

On a grander scale, del Toro's universes themselves carry as much or more detail as de Toro's characters do. Backgrounds and props are carefully placed so that each one adds to the story. The entire opening sequence of Pacific Rim is filled with world building, as news clips flicker across the screen. If you put together the clues del Toro lays throughout the film, you begin to wonder about Mako and Chuck's childhood as you realize they both grew up together. You spot a glimpse of Hermann's memories and put together that he wanted to be a pilot. You find that Kaiju bones have been integrated into cityscapes and imagine the remains left throughout the world. These details give life to del Toro's world and make them feel real despite their absurdity. Every moment of his films bears weight and importance, are meant to invest your mind in the world del Toro so enthusiastically offers. His mind's eye is detailed enough to live in.

Films like these, ones that put imagination, heart, and depth into every aspect, whatever the concept may be, are successful. Del Toro does it even in stories that are not his own original ideas, like Hellboy and The Hobbit films, just as he will likely do with future projects like his take on Pinocchio. There are plenty of other directors and writers who can do this, too, even in original work, but very few who have been able to make it big in the box office. Hopefully, as he continues to create new imaginative spaces for his audiences, del Toro will inspire a few of the audience's own worlds, too.

Cover Image Credit: Collider

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One Year After..

A take on my experience dealing with the death of a sibling. 

          As a young impressionable girl, you always looked up to your older brother in many different aspects of life. Mostly, learning what you can and can’t get away with. An older brother is someone who gives you Indian burns on your arm until you scream but will take you out for an ice cream date afterward. He will teach you how to ride a dirt bike and take the blame when mom gets mad. An older brother is someone who was born with a main goal of protecting his little sister and loving her more than she could ever know. He teaches his little sister to not take sh*t from anyone and that it’s okay to be stronger than the boys she plays with on the playground; “because if they push, you better push back.” He teaches you to love sports because you grew up watching him play baseball. He prepares his little sister for pain, for the many heartbreaks he knows that she is going to have to live through. Your parents are there to keep you on a straightened arrow but your brother is there to make sure fun can be included in that plan. Unfortunately, what all of these lessons he relayed over the years don’t teach you, is how to live without him. 

It is impossible for others to understand what was going through your mind when you found out. One second you were sitting in your apartment, trying to get your already crazy life together and  then, at the blink of an eye, everything changes. Life as you knew it was broken. Anger, confusion, and sadness suffocate you until you completely black out and just stare, emotionless at the lights going by as you’re traveling down the highway to your childhood home that you shared with your brother who, you now realize is never coming home again.

 “Why did this have to happen?” is the never ending, never answered question that races through your head. I eventually learned you can’t ask why because it will absolutely tear your sanity to shreds. 

When you lose a sibling, you lose a piece of you. The biggest part of your childhood is gone and it’s hard to actually face the fact that you will never get to see this person again, hear their voice that one last time, see their smile again and at this point, you’re begging for one last Indian burn. Only being able to see him in your dreams is this uncontrollable feeling of constantly wondering if he is going to visit you tonight while you’re sleeping. He has become the angel you never knew you needed, until now. 

In your darkest hours is when he will show the most love and protection. 

When you walk down the street, you see someone that reminds you of your brother and for a second there’s a sense of hope that this entire mess was just a bad dream. But, then you must come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a dream, its your new reality. Your new reality will become more real with time and you’ll start to get back into a routine. As one year passes by, you notice your brother in your actions and through your words and that’s kind of scary because you know and can feel that he is smirking at you for making the same dumb mistakes that he did in the past.

Of course you wonder what it would be like to have never lost your big brother. To have never experienced such an immense loss that spins your world upside down. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about him, but there is so much more to him than just his death and what has happened as a result of it. 

When the day that I had to burry my big brother came, I somehow muddled up enough strength and composure to read the poem that got me through his death in front of 2,000 people. The outpouring of love from his friends and my friends who drove over 2 hours to support me on this terrible day will never be forgotten or unappreciated. I didn’t quite know how to act or what to think. No one ever gave me a handbook on “What to do when your brother passes away while you’re in college.” I was given this poem by one of my brothers friends, who lost his older brother as well and this poem is truly is one of the most special things in the world to me. This poem was a light that was meant to lead me to where I am today. I would love to share it. 

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…

Author: David Romano 

If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,

If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,

While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you

And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,

That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place was ready, in heaven far above

And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love. 

But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.

For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.

It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.

I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,

I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized that this could never be,

For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.

When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow

I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.

When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.

God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne

He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”

Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last

And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.

Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.

You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.

So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?

So when tomorrow starts with out me don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

If my brother never passed away, I’d probably still just be a girl selfishly enjoying college and making mistakes without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still do those things, but my outlook on the world has definitely changed. 

This whole situation as a whole sucks but it just forces you to become a stronger person. You become a different person after the death of your sibling and are eager to live life in honor of them. You’re eager to do things that you have never done before because you know you have an angel looking out for you. You become brave because your older brother embodied that characteristic. You become obsessed with bettering yourself because you now have a bigger reason to live.

Now, one year later, you live every single day to the fullest since you really don’t know when your last could be. Valuing relationships you never thought you needed to take a second to be thankful for, being closer with your parents because you aren’t the only one who lost part of your life, and cherishing life in a different light are just a few of the many things that this whole experience encouraged me to do. You really find the simple things in life that are often overlooked and appreciate its presence in the world. 

I hope anyone going through anything similar can read this and have hope that it will get better. Yes, there will be days that you want to scream but the better days, where he shows you that he’s with you are worth it. Im forever grateful for the twenty five years I was able to spend with him, even though it doesn’t seem like its enough time. We beg for more time and thats something that we always cant salvage.

 Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and thank you for the strength you have given me, My sweet angel. I live everyday for you. 

I’ll always love you Dylan. Xoxo. 

Gracie, your little sister. 

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What I Learned From The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian

My opinion about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian

Everyone wants to make decisions that will not disappoint, betray, and harm the people they care about. In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian, Arnold has to make tough choices, but does not want to deceive his tribe, friends, and family. Arnold is displayed as an emotional and tough character which leads to him landing at crossroads often. The bold choices Arnold makes change his relations with the members of his tribe, his best friend Rowdy, and some of his family members. Arnold’s choices shape his character and his affiliations throughout the book.

When Arnold is at crossroads he makes decisions that disturb his relations with his tribe, his best friend, and his family members. These conflicts surface when Arnold decides to enroll into a rival school (Alexie 51). This event befouls his relationship with most of his tribe members, as they hate on him for betraying their trust and not meeting their expectations. Arnold also loses his best friend my enrolling into Reardan High School. Rowdy yells, “WHITE LOVER” and then punches Arnold in the face and walks away (Alexie 52-53). This indicates that Rowdy abandoned all trust and faith in Arnold for seducing him. Arnold also breaks the morals of his tribe and his personal morals by joining Reardan. Arnold’s tribe was always rivals with Reardan as it states in the text, “We all got really mad and vowed to kick their asses the next game” (Alexie 50). This suggests that Arnold and his teammates hated Reardan and wanted to get revenge. Transferring to Reardan breaks all his morals, as he is going to the school that demolished him and his friends. This quote also shows that it was wrong of Arnold to join Reardan because of the long scarred history between the two rival schools. All in all, Arnold’s choices put him at odds with his tribe, best friend, and personal morals.

Cover Image Credit: Audiobooks

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