Friday, March 23, 2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising - Review

A sequel not bringing back the original director is never the best omen for its potential success, at least from a critical standpoint, and that director being fresh off an Oscar win is even more disappointing for fans of the first film. Luckily there is still plenty of Jaegar and Kaiju action to make up for the lack of creativity and a charismatic lead in John Boyega certainly can’t hurt either.

Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) is a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity's victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through cities and bring the world to its knees, Jake is given one last chance by his estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), to live up to his father's legacy.

Thankfully doesn’t default to the classic they’ve come back bigger and more powerful, well at least not at first. It does manage to create an objective for the Kaijus that the first film lacked, making their goals somewhat tangible rather than just mindless destruction. The story very unoriginal but at least bearable for a majority of the runtime until it delivers the most ham-fisted sequel set-up since Independence Day: Resurgence.

The character development is non-existent, though hardly a shock. John Boyega is wonderfully charismatic but he can only carry silly dialogue so far before it becomes a slog. Charlie Day gets to be even more cartoonish than before, gaining more power than he had before and thus an ego as well. Scott Eastwood is there. Cailee Spaeny is charming enough, but bouncing back and forth between the storyline with the cadets and with Boyega’s plot makes her role very limited.

Look let’s be honest, who doesn’t love giant monsters and robots fighting? Its big and dumb and an absolute blast. This time around, there isn’t rain or darkness to shroud the fights and it’s nice to be able to actually see everything that’s happening. The huge over-the-top visuals really don’t roll around until the third act but when they hit, they hit hard on the silliness.

Overall, Pacific Rim: Uprising delivers on most of its promises but it’s more of a question of is that enough? It is wholly silly and largely un-unique, but it does feature extravagant action scenes with Jaegars and Kaijus. The film is alright, a fine watch on the biggest screen possible, until the weirdest last five minutes of a film in a while sort of derail any good will it had going for it. 

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