Pacific Rim Uprising
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Written by: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder & T.S. Nowlin
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang, Adriana Arjona & Rinko Kikuchi
Review by Cory Webber
Pacific Rim Uprising takes place ten years after the original film. Jake Pentecost (Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the hero from the first movie, reluctantly leads a new generation of Jaeger pilots.
The movie opens with Jake Pentecost living as a freeloading scrapper of Jaeger tech. He is a far cry from his heroic, speech giving, ass-kicking father. After getting caught, he winds up being assigned to train cadets to be future Jaeger pilots…apparently his family tree grants him some legal leeway.
Right away the tone is set that this movie is loose, free and has a different sort of energy and humor from the first. Whether or not this was meant to differentiate the two movies, it kind of falls flat. The editing gave it kind of kinetic energy similar to the Transformers movies.
Also, the humor seems off-brand, I guess is a way of putting it. There is one part in the opening narration where Jake says something to the effect of “I’d rather squat in an abandoned mansion than live in a crappy apartment.” This is said while it shows an overhead shot of a mansion, partially destroyed by a fallen Kaiju, then switches to an exterior shot of an apartment building literally called “Crappi Apartments.” The odd part is that this ADD-type visual gag, a la The Family Guy, is never seen again. It seemed like they wanted to set the tone early that this was different from the original; however, the rest of the movie largely plays out like its predecessor. This may or may not be a result of having four writers.
As far as the overall plot, you could pretty much see the beginning from the end. However, there were a couple of decent twists in between. The main issue with the story is that I didn’t really care for the characters. The relationship between Jake and Amara (Spaeny) has some nice moments, but the pathos never really extended out beyond the screen. As a result, I didn’t really buy the other relationships, like the tension-filled one between Jake and Lambert (Eastwood), or the vague love triangle rift between them and Jules (Arjona).
Now, I understand that the above complaints don’t have anything to do with why we see these kinds of movies. It certainly had nothing to do with why I wanted to check it out. We’re here for the giant robot versus giant monster action. In that regard, Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t completely disappoint. The action set pieces are grand in size, and in destruction. The editors did a nice job of keeping the action scenes well paced and executed. I mean, I could watch Jaeger v Kaiju battles all day.
In addition to great action, the special effects were pretty solid. However, some sequences seemed like they weren’t fully rendered, leaving some details looking, well, bland. Interestingly enough, my main gripe with the original movie was that the epic battle scenes mostly took place at night and in the rain. This made it hard to fully enjoy these robot/monster CGI fests. It seems like it may have been a good choice as some of the CGI in the action scenes here looked more cartoony than I wanted. While the Transformers movies may be dumpster fires, their special effects budgets allow you to bask in their CGI glory in broad daylight.
Overall, the movie felt almost as if the studio had a hard time greenlighting the sequel. And, the original talent that made the first one a fun popcorn flick such as Guillermo Del Toro, Idris Elba, and Charlie Hunnam were sorely missing; however, Boyega can carry a film…he just more than likely pulled somebody shoulder muscles with this one.
Pacific Rim Uprising Blu-ray Special Features
- Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Stephen DeKnight
- Hall of Heroes
- Bridge to Uprising
- The Underworld of Uprising
- Becoming Cadets
- Unexpected Villain
- Next Level Jaegers
- I Am Scrapper
- Going Mega
- Secrets of Shao
- Mako Returns
- Feature Commentary with Director Steven DeKnight
Verdict: Skip it.
Unless you really want to watch some Jaeger on Kaiju action, go ahead and give Pacific Rim Uprising a pass. Now, if you can’t resist, maybe wait until it’s streaming somewhere. Most of all, this movie made me want to see a Mech Cadet Yu movie.