Pacific Rim: Uprising Review
A half baked sequel that just about manages to pack a punch
Just when you thought the world was safe a new threat emerges that sees the Kaiju return in an attempt to annihilate all of mankind.When Pacific Rim was released back in 2013 it was met with a positive reviews with generated impressive box-office results. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, who also wrote the screenplay with Travis Beacham, Pacific Rim saw giant man controlled robots called Jaegers, tackle the otherworldly Kaiju monsters that erupted from deep beneath the sea. The film starring Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam was fun-filled, action packed popcorn fodder that saw Man versus monster in a battle to save the world from a potential apocalypse. Pacific Rim: Uprising picks up some years after the big blow out battle where war was waged against the future of mankind with Jake Pentecost (John Boyega). The name should ring a bell for fans of the first film as Jake is the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) the fallen hero who gave his all to save the day in Pacific Rim. Unlike his heroic father, Jake - a former Jaeger pilot - spends his time scavenging and bartering spare mechanical parts to get by.When he crosses paths with Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a young Jaeger-pilot-wannabe-fan-girl he finds himself thrust back into the Pan Pacific Defense Force. Reunited with his old drifting (the process whereby two people link mentally to control the Jaeger) partner Nate (Scott Eastwood) and restored to his former rank, Jake reluctantly falls back into line. Together they mentor a group of young cadets, including Amara, each eager to step into the cockpit and prove their worth. The efforts of our young future heroes come under threat though when the head of the Shao Corporation, Liwen (Tian Jing), along with her right hand man Dr. ‘Newt’ (Charlie Day) announce they are working on a series of Jaeger drones that can be controlled remotely which would make Jake and his young crew obsolete. But it’s not long before the new technology being rolled out turns out to have a seriously major malfunction, one that has the potential to wipe out the entire human race.
Director Steven S. DeKnight seems to have taken a leaf out of Michael Bay’s style book in his efforts to conjure up a sequel to Pacific Rim. At times it feels as though you’re sitting through a toned down version of the most recent Transformersfilm as it is very Jaeger heavy for the first two thirds, heavily reliant on setting up the new generation of Jaeger pilots.
This does become slightly tiresome, with an attempt at wise-cracking humour that doesn’t always land, and a struggle to establish all the new characters which for the most part are forgetful. It does manage to get back into the swing of things by the climax - which is worth waiting for. The third act big blow out is a gigantic set piece that finally delivers the goods. The CG isn’t the best, at times looking a bit rough around the edges, but if you can get past that then it is a decent enough payoff that sees the Kaiju get some well deserved screen time. With four names given credit for the writing it’s no wonder that at times the script feels a little desperate and strained along the way. It’s very formulaic and predictable in places but we’re not here for the deep and meaningful. It skims over the connection to the original film - there is zero mention of what happened to Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket - so it might be worth a re-watch beforehand.
The third act finally delivers the goods.
Pacific Rim: Uprising introduces a number of new, apparently significant, characters but doesn’t spend the time fully fleshing each of them out resulting in them feeling somewhat disposable. The main attraction is of course John Boyega employing his native London accent in the same vein as Elba from the first film. Boyega is likeable as Jake and does a good job of driving the narrative along, bringing some charm and, at times, funny repartee with his co-stars. With the heavy burden of his father’s long standing reputation resting on his shoulders, Jake has a lot to prove and Boyega is believable as the son who has to prove his worth. In her debut role in a feature film, Cailee Spaeny gives a good performance although she’s never really given much of a chance to really stand out as she’s often in Boyega’s shadow. Making a return are Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb as well as Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in a much smaller role.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is in no way as good as it’s predecessor, lacking some of the nostalgic flair that was evident before. With a lot of time spent on exposition and set up it does lack some momentum but thankfully it does manage to find its way and eventually gets back into the swing of things and when it does it makes for an entertaining and fun watch.
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