Pacific Rim is out, and is being popularly hailed as Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to the giant monster (“kaiju”) movies of his youth—for that reason alone everybody everywhere should salute Mr. del Toro.
Let’s talk about the subjects of del Toro’s love letter. But let’s establish some ground rules too, because otherwise we’ll be here all day and I have some movies to watch. I’ll limit myself to kaiju that 1) have appeared in a live action motion picture (kaiju on TV are cool, but the big screen is where they are, well, the biggest), 2) are not just large but insanely larger than normal human scale (a great white shark is not a kaiju, a mega shark maybe is), and 3) that pose an existential threat on at least a citywide scale (King Kong might mess up 5th Avenue a little, but he’s not going to destroy New York City). Yes, this disqualifies from consideration Ultraman and his kaiju of the week, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Kroll, the housecat and spider from The Incredible Shrinking Man, and almost any bad guy from either Voltron series, but all are worthy entries.