Pacific Rim: Uprising Movie Review
Giant Robots vs. Giant Monsters. This should be all I need to say. You know if you’re going to enjoy this movie or not based on that simple description. If you are aware of the first PACIFIC RIM (click the link to read my review), you should know what you are getting into with PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. If you haven’t seen the first film and only have seen the most minimal advertisement, you should still know exactly what you are getting into. So please, don’t complain to others or more specifically write me about the lack of character development, dumb dialogue, or unexplained details to story or plot details. PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is not that clever, emotional or quality movie one might be looking for, nor is it trying to be. Does it achieve it’s goal as a dumb, mindless popcorn entertainment? Yes. Unfortunately that genre of purposely being dumb giant has a fairly low ceiling.
In the same vein as GODZILLA or KING KONG, PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is a giant monster movie bringing the familiar destruction to tall buildings and cities with civilians screaming for their lives. Similar to the original, giant monsters from another dimension called Kaiju are destroying the world. To counter them, humanity has created giant robots called Jaegers piloted by two or more humans who must be drift compatible, roughly meaning they link their minds to operate the machine, which mimics their actions.
This crash course explanation is skimmed over briefly in the film, hoping viewers remember how everything works from the first one. Ten years after our heroes defeated the Kaiju, the world is still repairing itself trying to prepare for the possibility of another attack and an understanding of why they were here. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba from the first film) and brother of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi returning from the first film), has abandoned training and chosen life as an underground criminal. He will soon be called back into action bringing on a young feisty child recruit named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) who has created her own small “Scrappy” Jaeger built from junkyard parts.
Abandoning the dark, rainy fight scenes from PACIFIC RIM, director Steven S. DeKnight chooses brightly lit, colorful battles in cities and snow. The variety of locations definitely livens up the picture and helps get a clearer view of the battle dynamic. PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is far more digestible than the over-stuffed TRANSFORMERS movies, however, it does bring on a certain candy-coated POWER RANGERS vibe in the final battle. Thankfully the film gives a little more action to the different Jaeger machines that was sorely missing from the original.
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is mildly fun, standing on the shoulders of Guillermo del Toro’s artistic vision from the first (the recent Oscar-winning director is credited as a visual advisor for this film). John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI) continues to prove he is leading man material and newcomer Cailee Spaeny proves she has some charismatic chops worth casting in future films. Scott Eastwood is a bit bland as Boyega’s rival and teammate while Charlie Day’s comic relief, villainy mad scientist doesn’t quite play as well as it should. A few of the other supporting characters are either meaningless or forced in for arbitrary conflict-resolution plot lines.
Bottom line is you should know exactly what you are getting into with PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING – giant robots vs. giant monsters and even other giant robots! The movie doesn’t really offer anything extremely new to the genre, but it’s a fun genre to get behind if you don’t take it too seriously. The film opens stronger than it ends by expIoring the darker side of life after the destruction, then quickly abandons that story in favor for a more paint by numbers monster battle. I would have preferred to see a more clever, satirical approach in the vein of STARSHIP TROOPERS, but ultimately PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING achieves its goal as mildly enjoyable mindless entertainment. It’s giant robots vs. giant monsters for Pete’s sake!