Despite the huge disappointment that there is no “Leatherback” or any other ape-like kaiju monster in the new Pacific Rim sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising, this is still a mostly fun entry into the giant monsters vs. giant robots genre. (My overgrown-gorilla hopes for 2018 are all riding on you now, Rampage!)
Even though there is a well-constructed fantasy world within these films, as conceived by Guillermo del Toro and current writer/director, Steven S. DeKnight, I’m not even going to pretend that I remember that much about the first film in this fledgling franchise – let alone the details of specific robots (jaegers) and monsters (kaijus.) I’m good with just watching the giant adversaries duke it out, and on that primal level this new film delivers – bigly!
The first act of Uprising is a bit of a snoozer as we are introduced to new characters: Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the scavenging son of Pacific Rim’s famous hero, Stacker Pentecost; Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), a kaiju-incident-orphaned young girl with a knack for scrapping together illegal jaegers; and Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), the lead pilot of the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC).
It’s worth noting that Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, is seriously starting to show his dad’s mannerisms, accent and facial features. At several points I thought I was watching a young Eastwood – and, to be honest, it was kind of cool.
The rest of the cast is internationally diverse and that’s all good, but it is a blatant business decision that the film was designed to cash-in overseas – and I’m sure it will do very well in those markets; nothing wrong with that except for the obviousness of it.
The ball gets rolling after an awkward product-placement segment (apparently Oreos survive in this future world) and Jake and Amara are forced to join the PPDC. A rogue jaeger makes an appearance and the Earth is soon in its end-days once again – unless our heroes can save the day.
Again, for me, the insane battle sequences are worth the price of admission alone, but the human drama here is adequate, if a little sluggish at the beginning. If you’ve ever seen a military movie (from An Officer and a Gentleman to Starship Troopers), then you’ve seen this kind of movie melodrama before.
Don’t let the slow start here dissuade you, Pacific Rim: Uprising gets bigger and faster and more fun as it goes, literally, with a final that is worth the wait. Grade: 6.5/10