Alfonso Cuarón says ‘Pacific Rim’ made ‘Gravity’ feel like a ‘tiny Sundance film’

We’re going to have a few nibbles of a recent interview with director Alfonso Cuarón leading up to a larger piece dealing specifically with his work on the space spectacle “Gravity.” Today, with the summer movie season not too distant a memory just yet, I thought I’d ask Cuarón for his thoughts on “Pacific Rim.”

It’s not arbitrary. You might recall back in 2006 when Cuarón’s “Children of Men” was in the race with Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Babel” that much was made of the “three amigos,” this trio of Mexican filmmaker friends from way back who had accomplished their greatest feats in one year, each of them in the thick of the circuit. All three ended up with nominations, whether for writing, directing or editing. “Gravity” is Cuarón’s first films since “Children of Men,” though Del Toro and Iñárritu have respectively made “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and “Biutiful” in the interim.

“I love ‘Pacific Rim,'” Cuarón tells me. “I know that’s Guillermo and his passion, since I first met him and was going through his film collection and seeing all these Japanese films. As a kid I was a fan, myself, of this Japanese show called ‘Ultraman’ and I could see all of his amazing love for that.”

“Gravity” has taken up nearly four years of Cuarón’s life as of late. He and his team had to invent the proper technology to achieve the look he was looking for (much like what happened on “Children of Men,” in fact) and the result is a massive film with humbling scale. So it’s high praise when he says Del Toro’s film made his work feel minuscule by comparison.

“When I saw ‘Pacific Rim,’ I said, ‘Man, I’ve been three-and-a-half years now doing ‘Gravity,’ and now you’re making me feel that I just did this tiny, tiny indie Sundance film.’ But what I love about ‘Pacifim Rim’ is it’s done without any post-modernist, ironic approach. He really loves his characters. He loves his monsters. And at the core of it, what he loves is the characters inside the robots.”

“Pacific Rim” recently crossed $400 million at the worldwide box office. A sequel from Del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham may well be on the way after overseas receipts helped balance out lackluster domestic numbers.

Stay tuned for more from Cuarón as we build toward that big “Gravity” feature. In the meantime, mark your calendars.

“Gravity” hits theaters nationwide on Oct. 4 and you’ll want to be there.