Director: Steven S. DeKnight Genre: Sci-Fi/Action/Adventure
Run Time. 1h 51min. Age Rating. 12A Released: 23rd March 2018.
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Tian Jing, Charlie Day.
10 years after his father alongside a crew of other Jaeger pilots ended the war, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) lives in the damaged coastal areas, selling goods and Jaeger tech on the black market. When he’s threatened with prison his sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) offers him a chance to train a new batch of Jaeger recruits against the possible arrival of new Kaiju.REVIEW
Pacific Rim Uprising is a strange beast for us, on the one hand we loved Del Toro’s Mech vs Kaiju brawler. It was by no means perfect but featured tremendous designed beasts and astounding action, it was as you’d expect with a Del Toro film, all part of a well crafted world to boot. Even though that film failed to make a big splash at the box office on its last outing. we were still hopeful a sequel would emerge and when the sequel was announced it looked like we got our wish. The sequel eventually found its way in to being, casting the excellent John Boyega in the titular role and inviting back a few familiar faces, it was all looking promising, so how did it all turn out?
In short, underwhelming. If anything Pacific Rim Uprising feels like this year’s Kong: Skull Island, a film that you’d think would be worth looking forward to and then sitting through it only to come out feeling like a poorly tied balloon, deflated. That’s not to say the film’s all bad, even Kong: Skull island had it’s fair share of good moments, but it doesn’t quite have the impact we’d hoped a 7000 tonne rocket punch would have.Taking place 10 years after the supposed closure of the rift at the end of the first movie, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) is living in the destroyed coastal areas. Getting by selling and trading anything he can get his hands on, and the best goods going are Jaeger parts. After home built Jaeger (nicknamed Scrapper) lands Jake and fellow junker Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) at the Jaeger academy, Jake must train the young cadets alongside fellow Jaeger pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), in preparation for the second coming of the Kaiju threat.
The first thing you probably need to know about Uprising is not many of the cast make a return, in fact there are only three: Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and the two excessive scientists Dr. Newton and Dr. Hermann played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. The rest of the cast is made up of fresh faces (for better or worse). Though it has to be said John Boyega kills it as the film’s lead, happily chewing away at the B movie dialogue and carrying what could have been a very dull affair in many other actors hands, with pure swagger and charisma. Spaeny and Eastwood do well with the material they’re given, but there’s no doubting Uprising is the the Boyega show, and he carries it with ease.
The strange thing is that Pacific Rim Uprising feels a little miss marketed as the majority of the film takes place at a Jaeger boot camp. Then when the action does get going it seems to almost be wholly against rouge robots instead of towering Kaiju. Still when the action goes down it’s entertaining enough, even if it comes across as a slightly better directed Transformers showdown. The thing is you come to Pacific Rim to see incredible monsters dueling and the only monster action we get is solely saved for the third act. A third act which never outperform any of the battles featured in the film before it. That may seem overly harsh, and we don’t mean it to as the action here is generally good, but Uprising never once evokes that same sense of awe as its predecessor. What we are left with is simple yet entertaining popcorn fodder, instead of the grande seat edging clashes we’ve come to expect.
The other thing to be aware of is how the Uprising feels like its taken things in a different direction, leading to a film that feels more tonally inline with the Transformers franchise. It’s how director DeKnight chose to shot the film, with a much brighter and ‘cleaner’ look to the world, not to mention how the action feels fast and bouncy instead of the sluggish power of the battling behemoths before. Which hey, may not be a bad thing for everyone, but as fans of the original Pacific Rim it certainly does feel like a let down. Nothing really screams Pacific Rim sequel until the final clash, and by then you’re left with a film that’s more ‘in the spirit of’ sequel than anything resembling a direct sequel.
There’s plenty wrong with Uprising and a lot of that seems to stem from the script, it feels like a lot of the story has been chopped and moved about so much the film’s lost what it originally intended to be. That’s not even touching on the treatment of certain character’s who’re treated like they’re integral to the plot, yet only crop up a few times as if to remind you of their existence. It doesn’t feel consistent at all, and as the stakes rise any sense of peril or fear for its heroes plunges the other way. Then there’s the issue with the surrounding cast who are nothing more than dead weight, emboding bland Caricatures that you’ll forget about the moment they’re off screen.
It’s robot action is solid and Boyega excels as the charming lead, but there’s little else to make Uprising worth your time. It’s an expendable experience, one that may have been better left at the scrap heap, instead of the theaters.
Still unsure about heading out to see Uprising? If you like these films below we think it’ll be worth heading out to catch this giant robot flick.