Equal parts Gundam, Godzilla, and Power Rangers, it was a one-of-a-kind cocktail that didn’t generally prove to be a roaring success at the box office. Our friends in China, however, ate it up, and it was due to its tremendous overseas success that a sequel even happened.
But Guillermo isn’t the one behind the wheel this time around. That distinction goes to Stephen S. DeKnight of “Spartacus” fame.
You’d be forgiven for going into this film doubting it would live up to the first; the original was so specifically attuned to Del Toro’s sensibilities, that expecting something similar from somebody else doesn’t quite feel like a fair fight. Pacific Rim: Uprising does its best to steer the ship without Del Toro’s influence, and does a satisfactory job delivering what Pacific Rim does best – big robots, big monsters, and big punches.
The film centers around John Boyega’s Jake Pentecost (also a producer of the movie) – son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from the original, of apocalypse cancelling fame. Joining him are a group of new Jaeger pilot cadets, including the Jaeger building wunderkind Amara Naman, the Tony Stark of Jaegers, played by Cailee Spaeny.
The beginning of the movie bombards you with new characters and information. Most of this ends up left by the wayside by the middle of the runtime – and it really feels like two scripts were forced together, one with way more context, and one far more streamlined. The result is a plot that holds up just enough to keep the film moving along. Granted, there is one plot twist halfway through that is generally surprising, and adds some much needed oomph to the bare bones story. Luckily, the story mainly focuses on Jake and his journey, and Boyega oozes enough charm to carry the whole thing on his back with a wry, witty smile.
But let’s be honest, if you’re going to see this movie, you aren’t there for the story so much as you’re there for the ridiculous giant robot fights – and boy does Pacific Rim: Uprising deliver on that front. There is much less emphasis on the size of the Jaegers this go around, with the robots seemingly almost weightless while jumping through the air and performing crazy acrobatics, but that’s no bad thing. The fights show off some crazy, over the top, bombastic fun with new Kaiju evolutions and Jaeger tech delivering one crazy weapon, skill, and feat of skyscraper crushing spectacle after the other.
Pacific Rim: Uprising delivers where it needs to the most. The plot is passable with a few nice surprises thrown in, and the action is the right kind of cheesy anime craziness that fans have come to love. If you enjoyed the original Pacific Rim, it’s safe to say you’ll probably enjoy this too. 3 stars.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is in cinemas now.