Pacific Rim: Uprising is nothing like it’s predecessor Pacific Rim and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Guillermo Del Torro downgraded himself to a producer role to focus on The Shape of Water, giving the directing duty to Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus and Netflix’s Daredevil). Charlie Hunnam’s character Raleigh Becket is missing without a trace and there is no mention as to his whereabouts.Ron Perlman’s character Hannibal Chau, the Kaiju organ hoarder is also noticeably absent *shrug*. Idris Elba is also no longer in the franchise physically and understandably so he gave his life “canceling the apocalypse” in the first film.
So does anything carry over from the first film carry over into this sequel? Well yeah, sort of?
Rinko Kuri’s character Mako returns but her role has been reduced but it’s still very important to the story. Let’s just say she’s following in her adopted father’s footsteps.
Our two favorite brilliant but bumbling scientists return to the film. The kaiju groupie Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and the uptight Gottlieb ( Burn Gorman) are back and add a very unique twist to the film’s story.
The drift returns and is the mental link between two pilots, it’s also known as the Neural Handshake that helps the two pilots control their Jeagers fluidly returns in the film with some upgraded features.
The kaiju are back as well but in very limited numbers but there is a perfectly good reason for that.
Now before you gasp at the mere mention of that alone and wonder how in the hell is this film any good? I will explain eventually.
In the film, it has been 10-years since the events of the first film. The underwater turnstile for the giant monsters known as the breach is still permanently sealed and most of the world has recovered from the damage they cause when they make landfall. Most of the Jaegers in the world have been decommissioned and left to rot sealed off Jaeger scrapyards. The new sci-fi king, John Boyega (The Force Awakens/The Last Jedi) plays Jake Pentecost son of the legendary deceased Jaeger pilot Stacker Pentecost. Instead of fulfilling his once-promising career as a Kaiju destroying Jaeger pilot he opts for a life in the world of the criminal underground. He makes his living off stealing Jaeger parts and selling them on the black market.
During one of his scavenger hunts, he encounters a 15-year-old hacker and Jaeger scrapper named Amara (Cailee Spaeny). When the two go for a joyride in an unauthorized Jaeger she built from all the parts she stole they get arrested. Jake’s adopted sister gives him an Amara a second chance by re-enlisting them in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps’ Jaeger program much to the dismay of the of the by the books no-nonsense ranger Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
Jake reluctantly re-enlist but he takes the job to help Nate train the newest and very young Jaeger pilot recruits including his cellmate at one point Amara. He thinks this is gonna be a quick and easy job and he can be back to life as a scavenger living by his own rules. His plans are quickly changed when a rogue Jaeger makes an appearance by throwing a monkey wrench into plans and forcing him to take being a Jaeger pilot again seriously. Another thorn in the side of the Jaeger program is the introduction of manless drones being created by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) head of a powerful multinational company.
Now there are plenty of reviews panning this film because Toro is not behind this one but that is honestly also a good thing. Unlike Toro’s film, DeKnight’s sequel is much more fun. When Jake isn’t in a Jaeger he is very witty outside of it and his on-screen chemistry great. Boyega proves he can carry a film as the lead in the film and definitely knows how to squeeze in a joke or two. The other characters in the film do what they are supposed to do but it’s Amara who stands out from the rest of the newcomers easily.
But make no mistake the stars of this film are the giant robots and monsters and they shine more than they ever did in the first film. They are even more tricked out than before and doing even more ridiculous things on screen that Jaeger fans dreamed off. From strapping Kaiju blood filled rockets on their back to taking on rogue Jeagers in the middle of the Antarctic, it’s mech vs monster overload and it’s glorious.
This film isn’t intended to blow you away with dialogue or with a mind-blowing story, it’s intended to impress you with its action and it accomplishes that mission very easily. If this movie does well at the box office and all signs point to it doing so,don’t be shocked if there are more movies coming down the pipeline. John Boyega is a star and he deserves his own franchise to shine in, Pacific Rim: Uprising might be the catalyst for future films in this franchise with him leading the charge.
Verdict: Go see it!
Photo: Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures