Pacific Rim Uprising is a science fiction film, directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and it is the sequel to the 2013 film Pacific Rim (review here). The sequel stars John Boyega, as well as Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, and Zhang Jin, with stars of Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman as their characters from the first film.
The Story/The Direction:
This film takes place ten years after the original film in 2030. The jagers are fighting other jagers and a new kind of Kaiju. The first half of the film deals with rivalries and a corporate espionage plot that is very recognizable from other films. There's a few twists and turns that the film takes that keep the film somewhat fresh. DeKnight, who is known for writing and directing episodes of Smallville and Marvel’s Daredevil, makes his directional debut with this film. His style is able to emphasize something that the prior film did not do well, the characters. This is perhaps the best part of the film.
Boyega is absolutely fantastic as the Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba's character in the previous film. His charming performance is much better than Charlie Hunnam's Raleigh Becket. Eastwood does decently as the straight man when he's on screen with Boyega and Gorman and Day bring back the fun relationship that their characters had. Spaeny is fairly good as Amara working even better with Boyega. Them together brings a brother-and-sister dynamic to the film. Kikuchi returns as Mako but she's immensely underused, which is a huge flaw in the film.
Mako, in the previous film, was essentially Pentecost's daughter and their relationship was one of the cornerstones of the film. As both children of him, Mako and Jake should have had an existing relationship of some sort however that is not the case. There is no family connection between the two as the film concentrates on Jake and thus Mako is immensely underused in the sequel. What also is missing from the sequel is the mythology that the original had. This film focuses on being only a film about big robots fighting other big entities. Each detail was thought out by del Toro all the way down to the operation of the jagers. He had the operations connected to a drivers personal connection to the other driver. This film takes that away as it is "understood" that it happens but this takes away some depth to the giant robots. Also due to del Toro's absence from the film, the Kaiju are more like unseen villains that are talked about. The prior film gave them motive and background. While this does allow for better characters than the original, the action scenes where the battles occur are in cities that are only there to be destroyed whereas the original had people in them. The audience felt for the thousands or millions of people affected by the destruction.
Thanks mostly to Boyega's performance, this film can be enjoyed as a popcorn flick that does have some obvious cheese as being a film about big robots fighting other big entities. If that's all any viewer wants in a film, this film exceeds at that. However, the flaws of this film equate it to that of the Transformers films but those films run immensely long which can tire out the viewers. The film wasn't better than the first one as the effects were on par, the stakes weren't' really any higher, and any interesting points that the prior film had is gone. Nevertheless, the short 111-minute runtime of this film takes some of that away and makes a fun average film to watch but audience members will probably forget about it.
Rating: 2.5/5.0 bowties
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