Pacific Rim: Uprising
The first Pacific Rim film was a disappointment for me, feeling like an entire film full of missed opportunities. They somehow managed to make a movie about giant robots and monsters disappointing. The effects were subpar, the characters uninteresting, and every fight scene felt like a half-thought idea.
So does the sequel fix this? Is this one a decent robot versus monster flick?
10 years ago, giant monsters called Kaiju attacked Earth and were defeated by human forces in gigantic robot suits called Jaegers. Now, all seems peaceful, until rogue Jaegers start appearing and there are hints of a reemergence of the Kaiju. We follow Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of a famous warrior (Idris Elba). Jake teams up with an old rival from training (Scott Eastwood) to train a new group of trainees, who can hopefully defend the world. One of these new trainees (Cailee Spaeny) is a former junkyard scrapper who built her own mini-Jaeger.
We also have returning cast members Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori, Burn Gorman as Dr. Gottlieb, and Charlie Day as “Newt” Geiszler.
Most of you will go into this movie wanting action, pure and simple. You will want giant robots battling aliens. And if that’s your only requirement, this movie will do it for you. The action is fantastic, with most of the fight sequences taking place in the daytime in full sunlight. The action looks cleaner and is much more interesting than in the first film. In the original, there were some huge missed opportunities and moments that would’ve been way cooler than what we saw onscreen. In this movie, I never had that feeling, they managed to take advantage of each action scene to the fullest.
The cast is really hit and miss, though plenty of folks will enjoy John Boyega as the lead. He’s charming, though I felt the humor and poor writing didn’t do him justice here. The real standout is relative newcomer Cailee Spaeny, who manages to add an energy and zest to the sequences she’s in.
Here’s the point where I need to remind you of a few things. I’m a critic so my job is to critique. If you want action and that’s it, go see this movie and you’ll have a good time. But my job is to compare this to other big action blockbusters and tell you if it’s a good movie. And unfortunately, this is not a good movie.
Pacific Rim: Uprising has a few major problems. The script is nonsensical and lacks polish. The core story is disappointing, in that they manage to actually withhold Kaiju until the climax of the film. There’s a few twists and turns that felt like this should be the last-ditch attempt to revitalize this franchise, like the fifth or sixth movie in. This doesn’t feel like a second movie. It’s so simple, just have robots fight monsters, but they instead muddle it with a nonsensical story and a bloated cast of people we don’t care about.
Let me talk about Scott Eastwood for a second. I don’t understand why Hollywood is putting him in these huge franchises. He lacks charisma and energy and he is the most uninteresting person in this movie. We also get other unnecessary characters including Tian Jing (The Great Wall, Kong) that really don’t have a place here, aside from a few deus ex machina moments.
The script also really tries to force humor, capitalizing on Boyega’s charisma. It however fails most of the time. It’s cringeworthy and unneccessary.
If you want action, this will do it, though you’ll have to completely ignore the plot that makes zero sense and the characters that are poorly written and often unnecessary. Again, the fights are rad and the special effects are pretty amazing, but I can’t say this a good movie by any means. It’s a straight-to-DVD quality script with a blockbuster budget.