PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
Starring: John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Adria Arjona, Scott Eastwood
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Written by: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nolan
Based on Characters by Travis Beacham
Review by Stephanie Cooke
I went into Pacific Rim Uprising VERY AFRAID for the franchise. The original is ridiculous (ridiculously amazing, that is) but I love it like crazy. It’s honestly a film that I’ve seen an insane amount of times. It’s wonderful and unapologetic in its absurdity, and it’s fun as heck. Without Guillermo Del Toro leading the film, would Pacific Rim Uprising hold up? Would I continue to love the films or would this sour them for me?
Let’s run through the checklist of things I needed for the movie to be great:
Giant freaking robots? CHECK.
Giant freaking monsters? CHECK.
Giant robots fighting giant monsters? CHECK.
Giant freaking robots fighting each other? BONUS CHECK.
Did the plot entirely make sense? Ehhhhhh… ahhhh… NO, NOT REALLY but what about the first movie made you think they were going to make Pacific Rim 2 a little more grounded? I mean, there was a weapon irrationally called “rocket elbow” in the first one sooooooo, I’m not sure what everyone else was expecting, but I got what I came for.
Of course, what I came for a Stacker Pentecost prequel where I got to lovingly stare at Idris Elba for two hours but you know what? What I got worked just fine for me too.
The plot of the film THANKFULLY doesn’t revolve around a resurgence of the kaiju coming back through the breach. DON’T WORRY, THERE ARE MONSTERS but the story doesn’t just go the “Oh no the breach opened again” route. Thank god.
It’s 10 years after the first film has ended. We follow Jake Pentecost as he tries to make his own way in life, escaping the shadow of his father which, of course, doesn’t really pan out for him. After a run in with the authorities, him and a young self-taught jaegar mechanic get sent to serve with the PPDC just as a new threat emerges. Pentecost must step up along with several new jaegar pilot recruits to save the world once again.
The film goes HEAVY on the exposition for a while and it’s a bit of a slow build to the excitement but it’s a fun ride along the way.
I think my one gripe is a similar one that I had from the first movie (SHUT UP WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE PLOT. WE DON’T ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT, OKAY?) I really wanted to see more of the Jaegars in action. They definitely gave the new ones more screen time than the Jaegars from the original (RIP Cherno Alpha) but I could’ve watched an entire movie of the pilots running around in their Jaegars just being buddies and doing buddy things. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, that sounds an awful lot like Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. I definitely don’t want those so I take that back.
Still, I always want more of the jaegars and other jaegar pilots.
Which brings me to the Jaegar pilots in Pacific Rim Uprising… err, the cast.
John Boyega (or John BoJAEGAR, amirite?!) plays the son of Stacker Pentecost (love of my life) and brother to Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Mako makes a return to the film as do Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as Dr. Newt Geiszler and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, respectively. Scott Eastwood is there too, but does nothing for me whatsoever, so let’s move on.
Cailee Spaeny makes her major movie debut as Amara; a young, scrappy mechanic who’s recruited to the PPDC after building her own mini-Jaegar out of junk. I was a little ehhhh on her at first but she quickly grew on me and became a character that I felt semi-invested in. They don’t really give all the actors/characters enough time to establish a STRONG NEURAL HANDSHAKE (get it, guys? GET IT?!) but with what we’re given with them on screen, I felt it was enough to tell the story that the team wanted to tell.
While Jake winds up being a “Ranger” which is one of the official pilots and also an instructor to the recruits, Amara becomes a pilot cadet. It’s there that we meet a bunch of other youths that are in training to kick kaiju ass, or like, just generally defend the world. But in Jaegars.
The Jaegar cadets and the supporting cast of the film are great in their roles and diversity shines with:
- John Boyega (a Black man)
- Cailee Spaeny (a woman)
- Tian Jing (a Chinese woman)
- Adria Arona (a Latina woman)
- Karan Brar (an Indian man)
- Wesley Wong (a Chinese man)
- Shyrley Rodriguez (a WOC)
These actors have relatively prominent roles and it’s FANTASTIC. Among the Jaegar pilots, Boyega, Spaeny, and Eastwood definitely take front and center, but the fact that these other actors are there too and have speaking roles and more significant roles in the Jaegars than previous pilots have gotten is AMAZING. The film leans on the characters we’ve seen before, Day and Gorman were huge fan favourites, but they shake up their roles and definitely add to what came before.
My sold out movie theatre freaking loved every second of it. Especially the guy behind me.
I wish that I loved anything at least 10% of the amount that the man loved Pacific Rim Uprising. He took every minor thought and feeling I had about he film and turned them up to 11.
Movie: CRAZY THING HAPPENED
Audience: Whoa, neat (internally)
Man behind me: HOLY WOW WHOA WHOA WHOA WOW THAT WAS F*CKING AWESOME!
Diversity CAN sell. Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and now Pacific Rim Uprising (supposing it does well…) are showing Hollywood what we want to be seeing on screen more often.
And on top of being an all round FUN movie, Pacific Rim Uprising is funny. John Boyega (Bojaegar… I’m not stopping! Can’t stop, won’t stop!) is funny. I’m not exactly surprised by this but he did a great job of bringing in and delivering the punchlines to jokes that felt organic and fun throughout the film.
I’m like 93% sure that John Boyega called his jaegar pilots his “Bojaegar Pilots” at LEAST once during the film. AT LEAST. If he didn’t, and I just happened to mishear… don’t correct me. I’d disappointed and I don’t want to know.
At the end of the day, Pacific Rim Uprising took what we loved about the first film and put into a sequel that doesn’t quite standalone but definitely brings something new to the table for people to enjoy.
MUST SEE! It’s a must see it in theatres. A must see it 3D (and I NEVER recommend that nonsense…). A must see in IMAX, if possible.
Pacific Rim Uprising is enormous amounts of fun and if you’re going in with a mindset for a hokey, fun action film like what we got from the original, you’ll be set. Just turn your brain off and set it to jaegar autopilot (sorry not sorry). Don’t poke holes in the story. Just watch and enjoy it for it’s beautiful craziness because the subtitle for the film (and honestly maybe even for the original…) should’ve been DON’T ASK QUESTIONS. So don’t.
I am absolutely here for a third Pacific Rim. I AM ALL IN. Please let that happen. Please let it be good. Ridiculous but good. Like this sequel.