Pacific Rim: Uprising Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
The Kaiju threat is back, now it is up to Jake Pentecost to stop them, while proving to the world that he is just as good as his father!
Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Cast: John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Scott Eastwood, Charlie Day, Jing Tian, Burn Gorman, Ivanna Sakhno, Karan Brar, Wesley Wong, Mackenyu, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin & Rinko Kikuchi.
Run Time: 111 min.
US Release: 23 March 2018
UK Release: 23 March 2018
German Release: 22 March 2018
The sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s fun blockbuster Pacific Rim, which sees huge robots fighting giant monsters, is out in cinemas right now. Steven S. DeKnight, a regisseur and producer of TV series, took over the reigns as director and writer, while del Toro himself left the directing chair to focus on The Shape of Water, but stayed on board as a producer.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t have much faith in this movie! From what I saw in the trailers and the marketing campaign, this looked like a cheap knock-off of Travis Beacham’s original work. Then again, I thought that the first Pacific Rim trailer looked like it was selling another silly monster-action flick, similar to Battleships, but was proven wrong. So I went to the cinema with an open mind, ready to be positively surprised but sadly, this is exactly what I had expected. This second part falls into the typical sequel trap; trying to be louder, bigger and better than its predecessor while forgetting to tell an interesting story.
Ten years after the Battle of the Breach, Raleigh Becket has gone missing, while Stacker Pentecost's biological son Jake (Boyega) is selling stolen Jaeger parts on the black market. Following teenie Amara (Spaeny), who stole something from him, Jake gets in trouble with authorities and is facing a long incarceration time. Mako (Kikuchi), offers him his old position in the PPDC as a Jaeger Pilot, to save him from Jail. He reluctantly accepts but when the Kaiju attack begins anew, Jake needs to ask himself what kind of man he wants to be.
As I stated in my other review, what I love about the first Pacific Rim are the immense similarities to mecha-animes and that is also true for Uprising, as it feels like DeKnight is trying to hold tight to those parallels - at least during the giant action scenes. Even though the plot is a complete mess, I need to confess that the bombastic battle segments are highly amusing. Watching the giant, human-driven, mechs punching Kajus - or other robots - through buildings or monuments is pure entertainment and the film does deliver on that!
However, until it reaches that point the narrative is nothing more than build-up to the final battle. Sure, the opening sequence is fun but doesn’t really count as an action scene, as it is over way to fast. The only other battle we obtain is around the midsection of the second act, yet for a feature whose main aim is to present mechs fighting enormous creatures, two big action parts seem a little small. DeKnight and his team of writers tried to make Pacific Rim: Uprising more than its predecessor is, by adding extra characters, side-stories as well as a twist that is plain stupid. The story is dull, filled with shallow clichés, while voice-overs and exposition heavy conversations are used to fill in the audience on what is happening.
The dialogue is utterly silly, sounding at times as if a child had written it. Boyega’s character is constantly obsessed with his good looks, referencing everything conversation back to how good he looks. He will often mention that to a teenage girl, which makes it even more awkward to watch but it doesn’t stop there, as the character is also preoccupied with the level of attractiveness of his buddy Nate.
John Boyega stars as Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost (Elba’s role in the previous movie), and is the lead character of this blockbuster. Boyega is as always very energetic and charismatic, but the way his character is written is disappointingly weak! A shame, since Elba’s Pentecost Sr. is one of the highlights of Pacific Rim. Scott Eastwood joins the cast as Nate Lambert, Boyega’s buddy co-pilot. Eastwood didn’t really add anything to the plot, he is mostly just standing around, trying to look badass while giving orders.
Cailee Spaeny plays Amara Namani and was shining star of this silly feature. She blew me away, stealing the show every time she was on screen. She is charming, energetic and gives a great performance. That said, adding children to train them as Jaeger pilots is one of the biggest gripes I have with this sequel. It feels as if DeKnight was trying to move away from the more serious tone set by Guillermo del Toro, to make the narrative more PG friendly for a wider audience.
Charlie Day returns to his role of Dr. Newton Geiszler, a character I found utterly annoying in the predecessor but they manage to make him even more irritating in this one! I have nothing against Day, but he is just a comedian! To twist his character in the way the plot does, was not only completely reckless but the actor himself hasn’t got the range to pull it off!
The film’s highlights are probably the visual effects. Just as in the first Pacific Rim, the main focus of the action scenes in Uprising lie in CGI battles, displaying huge robots kicking some Kaiju butt onto the silver screen. The computer effects are well handled and the fighting choreography feels believable enough. However, at times it seemed like the mechs were optically upgraded to resemble a Power Ranger Megazord, with all the ludicrous weaponry that is integrated into them. Other than that, the picture itself contains strong vibrant colours, with most shots being fairly well lit but the cinematographic style does look cheaper.
Verdict: This sequel is an absolute disappointment! It tries to outplay the original movie by adding more Jaegers with bigger weapons, bigger Kaijus to up the threat and includes an absolutely stupid story with an even dumber surprise. It tells a boring tale, with half of it being an expositionary build-up to the final battle. The dialogues sound as if an eight-year-old had written them and don’t get me started on the poorly developed lead character, portrayed by the brilliant John Boyega. At least Cailee Spaeny managed to draw a smile on my face with her grand performance and the effects are good, including entertaining action segments. However, it is not enough to save Pacific Rim: Uprising, which is nothing more than a pale shadow of Guillermo del Toro’s first blockbuster and deserves a disappointing 5 out of 10!
Pacific Rim: Uprising, did you see it yet? If so, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of it. If you liked my review give it a thumbs up and subscribe!