“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is the sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 movie, “Pacific Rim” in which giant monsters do battle with giant human-controlled mech-suits. That’s all you need to know about that movie and now in this movie, the monsters known as Kaiju have returned to wreak havoc on Earth and now the humans, lead by John Boyega’s character of Jake Pentacost, have to suit up in their Jaegers once more and do battle with the Kaiju…again.
I personally really enjoy “Pacific Rim”. The human and emotional element are certainly lacking, but it’s the type of movie that knows what it is, a loud, dumb action movie with all sorts of epic monster battles. It was clearly directed with a type of flair that only del Toro could pull in a giant monster film, but he’s not directing this sequel. Instead it’s Steven S. DeKnight directing and the loss of del Toro is definitely noticeable as far as directing goes and in terms of everything else, this is about as standard of a Hollywood sequel as it gets.
I like John Boyega a lot and he does give a good performance despite his character being so cliched. The character is the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first film and he starts out the movie as being a carefree rebel who just wants to live the easy life and avoid this war against the Kaiju. But he’s ultimately called into action and he’s dealt with the burden of living up to his father’s greatness, but you’ve seen it all before. The whole struggle with his father’s legacy is as cliched as it comes and it’s simply not interesting to watch. As I already said, Boyega is a rising star and he’s legitimately good in this role, but the writing for the character is done in the most stock way possible.
Other performances include the return of Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman from the first movie and while they’re all perfectly functional in their respective roles, it all comes down to the characters just being poorly written, especially Charlie Day as he’s given a purpose in this movie that is nothing short of terrible. But when we have bad characters being played by decent actors, we also have bad characters being played by bad actors and that’s specifically target at Scott Eastwood. The character has some past beef with Jake and it’s every bit as boring as you can guess, and Eastwood simply doesn’t have what it takes to be a legit actor. If he’s trying to pass up as someone who can do an OK grumpy impression of his father, Clint, then he’s serviceable, but in terms of giving a decent performance? Go away, Scott Eastwood.
This movie’s big problem is that it focuses too much on the humans and it’s constantly trying to build them up as super important people that we actually care about. No, we don’t care about them. The humans in the first film weren’t great by any means, but del Toro knew that and he at least showcased what we all really came to see: Giant robots fighting giant monsters. But now in this sequel, there’s too much importance on the characters, particularly some little girl and her little group of other kids and it’s clearly only in this movie to pander to this whole idea of badass, empowered kids that Hollywood is going crazy for nowadays. The little girl character is a waste because the girl herself does come off as a good talent.
But as for the action, even that feels tedious. Sure, it starts out as entertaining to see giant mech-suits fighting each other, but it starts to get boring quickly, mostly in part to the fights revolving around characters that aren’t interesting in the slightest. The big bummer, however, comes in the fact that there’s a very limited amount of Jaeger vs Kaiju action. We barely get to see what we came for in the first place and by the time we do get it, it’s at a point where the movie is nearly over and it’s dragging on to its end. The action simply isn’t as exciting as the first movie, nor is it done in the grand scale that del Toro did it in. The monsters and mechs felt truly enormous and powerful in the first film, but now they just look like an average CGI effect with no gravity or weight to them. And there’s only so much you can watch of “giant robot punches giant monster” before you start to get restless.
Overall, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is the sequel that we were all afraid it was going to be. The action is boring, the characters are weak, and it feels like an overblown CGI slog that Roland Emmerich could’ve directed. If you’re a fan of the first movie like I am, then my recommendation is to simply stay home and watch the first one, free of having to see a sequel that destroys everything that made del Toro’s movie as fun as it was.
Rating: Some Ol’ Bullshit