As much as I love a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters, I have to say that Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to Pacific Rim, is a typically lesser film.
I think, though, where it fails most is simply in the lack of the unique tone of Guillermo del Toro’s original. That weird, over-the-top acting, that goofy vibe that made it feel a bit like a Japanese manga – that’s what made it all work. Where that film had that quality to make it feel like silly fun, this sequel takes itself a bit more seriously, and that creates a less interesting – dare I say, boring – film.
In Pacific Rim: Uprising, Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger (giant robots) pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju (giant monsters) threat.
John Boyega and Jake Pentecost is fine. he has the charisma and chops to do the job, but the dialogue just isn’t as good. Scott Eastwood look the part, but doesn’t have enough interesting things to do to make him more than a prop. Cailee Spaeny plays Amara Namani, the young hot shot, and sh’es good. the rest of the young recruits are very pretty and go through the motions of training to be Jaeger pilots with all the usual conflicts and pranks that offer us a chance to get to know them. Not that it really works all that much.
Let’s face it, Pacific Rim: Uprising is all about the robot on monster battles. And we get that. But first, we get some robot on robot battles. And there lies the big difference between this sequel and the original Pacific Rim. Also, in general, Uprising feels leaner, more efficient. The first film got all the exposition and explanation of how things work out of the way. This sequel both manages to benefit, and be hurt, by that. It’s leaner, but it loses the sense of being new.
Also returning are the scientists Geizler and Gottlieb, played respectively by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. They are both fine, but Day seems particularly like he’s less, well, like Charlie Day. It feels like anyone could have come in and played this role in this sequel. He simply doesn’t stand out here.
The effects look decent and there is certainly some fun robot-on-monster action, particularly late in the third act. And that’s really what we came for, right? But despite all that, Pacific Rim: Uprising just doesn’t reach the level of fun the first one had.
Director Steven S. DeKnight does a solid job directing but the script just didn’t have the same feel as the first. But then, he had some pretty big shoes to fill. Nobody’s Guillermo del Toro.
DeKnight is still doing good work on the Netflix show Daredevil, and I have always been a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel TV shows, as so many of us have. So no hard feelings here.
Pacific Rim: Uprising still eeks out a three kittenhands here. It’s still a good big screen film, but it’d sure be better if you could sneak into a showing of it. If you have a 60-70 inch screen TV at home, that will be good, too.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, Thinking that Isle of Dogs will be better.