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.
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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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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Life Is Short, So Buy The Concert Tickets

It could be the last time you ever see that band.
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"Life is short, buy the concert tickets."

A motto I have lived by for as long as I have been able to go to shows on my own. I have bought concert tickets in a tattoo shop for a show two days away, and I have bought tickets for a show months away. I have bought tickets instead of groceries and other bills. Perhaps that is what makes the shows so worth it.

Over the years, I have gone to countless concerts, crowd-surfed and moshed at the majority. Primarily, I’ve attended punk shows like Social Distortion and Flogging Molly. Spending every last dime on a concert creates a feeling of last chance euphoria. I always enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that came with that my bank account being drained buying the tickets, gas, merch and snacks for the ride. It’s the story of my life.

In my experience, the shows become even better. The last show I went to was an Irish Punk show. I gave a man 10 bucks to get me a beer. He gave me his credit card, locked arms with me and sang the lyrics at the top of our lungs. One of my best friends and I spent that whole show moshing and crowd surfing, knowing very well we were broke and had to work in the morning.

As the summer season comes around the corner, bands are beginning to announce their summer tour dates. Many of the bands I follow have announced their tours, and sure enough, I dropped 300 dollars in a matter of an hour on shows, only to find out there are many more coming that I want to see. Student loans will always be there. Rent, bills, insurance, will always be there. Buy the concert tickets, spend time at a punk show (or any show). It could be the last time you ever see that band.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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