“Pacific Rim Uprising” stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, and Rinko Kikuchi. Released on March 23, 2018, the film involves a new generation of Jaeger pilots working together to save the world from the Kaiju.
The film features the directorial debut of Steven S. DeKnight, who is known for his involvement in shows like Spartacus and Marvel’s Daredevil. It is a sequel to the 2013 film, “Pacific Rim”. Before he achieved Oscar glory for his work on “The Shape of Water”, Guillermo del Toro helmed a project whose concept is much too big for words, and no, I’m not talking about Transformers. While “Pacific Rim” didn’t earn any big box office numbers in the United States, it received generally positive reviews for its visuals, action sequences, and its sense of nostalgia, and it was a box office success in the international markets, especially China. Because sometimes, China is known for being Hollywood’s box office savior. As usual, we are now getting a follow-up to the mech-vs-monster beat-em-up that may have a potential in being the start of a brand new cinematic franchise. Aside from “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Pacific Rim” was the movie that fully introduced me to del Toro’s visual storytelling. The film was pretty darn amazing in terms of its scope and the action. With the new director in charge of the sequel, will it be able to capture the same amount of amazement as the original?
Taking place a decade after the events of “Pacific Rim”, the story focuses on former pilot Jake Pentecost (Boyega), the son of Stacker Pentecost, who is called upon to teach a group of young cadets how to pilot their giant robots known as Jaegers. But when a mysterious plot involving the return of the Kaiju emerges, Jake and the cadets, along with a young orphan (Spaeny) and his former co-pilot (Eastwood), must learn to trust one another in order to prevent another global catastrophe. If you’re wondering if you should see the first movie before you see “Uprising”, I would say that you should in order for you to fully understand the concept of pitting huge human-controlled robots against giant monsters that emerge from the bottom of the ocean. In terms of story, it’s quite optional since the sequel briefly mentions a few moments that happened in the original from time to time. What makes “Uprising” a bit different compared to the first film would have to be the scope. “Pacific Rim” had a unique sense of scope that felt like a gritty robot-vs-monster epic. This film has a scope that felt like an ordinary sci-fi action blockbuster, or in this case, a Power Rangers knock-off. People who enjoyed the scope in the first film may or may not be pleased with how “Uprising” looks. I guess if you look at it as its own film and not expect it to be anything else, I think that you’re going to have a fun time with this. For me, personally, despite its difference in scope, I think it definitely offers the same type of experience as the original. Fun, a bit dumb, and action-packed. John Boyega was really impressive in his performance as Jake. How Boyega envisions a guy who is forced to fill in his father’s shoes was believable enough to make me care for him, even though the way they tell this type of story was a bit average. He definitely shows that he can carry another franchise forward other than Star Wars. Scott Eastwood also did all right as Nate Lambert, Jake’s co-pilot. His performance wasn’t anything too special, but he wasn’t as bad as people are saying he was. He’s not trying to be like his father or anything. He’s just being himself. That’s basically how I feel about him. As for Cailee Spaeny as Amara, her performance wasn’t anything special either, but her character serves as a suitable and likable ally due to Spaeny’s comfortable acting talents. The film also features a couple of actors reprising their roles from the first film, such as Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori, Burn Gorman as Hermann Gottlieb, and Charlie Day as Newton Geiszler. Like his performance in the original, Day had a few good moments, but at times, he can get a bit too over the top. The story and the characters didn’t have a lot of emotional depth that will impress the toughest critics, but DeKnight was able to provide a convincing amount of entertainment to overshadow those difficult errors. The visual effects were undeniably stunning, mostly the Jaegers and the Kaiju, and the action sequences were epic enough to make young kids cheer for more. Even the young boy who sat two seats next to me thought the action was awesome.
Overall, “Pacific Rim Uprising” may not be able to capture the same type of scope as the original, but that doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t as fun and action-packed as the first. While the story and the character depth were far from perfect, I had a really good time watching it on the big screen. The cast was entertaining, DeKnight’s direction was pretty decent, the action sequences were hard-hitting and intense, and the visuals were top-notch. If you like the first film because of the fight sequences or if you’re just into something that involves giant monster fights, this one should suit you just fine.