Review copy provided by Titan Books.
The short version? Wow.
If you, like me, fell head-over-heels in love with del Toro’s grand, epic, gorgeous giant-robots-fighting-giant-monsters, co-operation-is-the-key-to-survival summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, this shiny, textured, large paean to its production is undoubtedly relevant to your interests – although at a recommended retail price of stg£29.99, its possession will probably for the most part be limited to those with deep pockets, deeper enthusiasm, or generous friends and relatives.
The first, most striking thing about Man, Machines & Monsters (apart from the unfortunate incidental sexism of the alliterative title) is how beautiful it is. I want to pet it while humming preeeettttty, for the same visual intelligence that made Pacific Rim such an impressively satisfying spectacle is evident here: not just in the stills and concept art, as might be expected, but in layout and design.
The images. They leap off the page. You feel as though you should be able to reach into the book and touch what they depict. So pretty. So many gorgeous stills and concept art. Not enough pictures of the Russians, alas, but plenty of Idris Elba. There are some detachable items: Jaeger badge stickers, copies of pages from del Toro’s notebooks, Jaeger designs and Kaiju sketches, but me, I wouldn’t like to remove them – they’re plenty fine where they are, and compared to the rest of the book, the quality of paper they’re printed on is somewhat lacking.
As for words? There are four sections, integrated with the art. “Monsters in the Mist,” about the script and story and characters. “The Cray Kids in the Submarine,” about the art and design process, particularly designing the Jaegers. “Doing It For Real,” which talks about production and special effects, and makes the point that del Toro built as many sets as the budget could bear – including the inside of the Jaegers, which were mounted on airbags and gimbals to simulate movement. And “Simulating the Apocalypse,” which talks about the visual effects and the sound design, and the process of designing the Kaiju.
Visually stunning. Lovely. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.