a PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING musing
Released in 2013, PACIFIC RIM was a passion project for recent Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro. He wanted to just create the kind of movie he loved growing up, giant monsters fighting giant robots. And that’s what we got with that movie, and pretty much what we get with its sequel, PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. (The original subtitle for this movie was MAELSTROM, which is so much more unique and badass.) UPRISING, directed by Steven DeKnight, in his feature-film directorial debut, has some fun with the mythology and world set up in the 2013 film, and is ultimately a fun watch amidst the chaos. There are a lot of missed opportunities in terms of interesting storytelling, so maybe I enjoyed this movie as I actively rewrote it in my head.
Ten years after the events of the first film, the son of hero Stacker Pentecost, Jake (an excellent John Boyega working diligently through cute jokes to cringeworthy lines), is dragged back into the, essentially, robot army of Earth, along with a scrappy younger girl, Amara, played by relative newcomer Cailee Spaeny. Their chemistry is what made the first two acts pretty solid, and Boyega’s charisma somehow manages to make Scott Eastwood’s acting passable. The monsters/Kaiju haven’t attacked in ten years, but as newly developed drones are about to deploy and help the humans and their robots/Jaegers, the Kaiju make their way back to Earth.
The machinations to get the Kaiju back are pretty bonkers and ridiculous, but I would have been okay if the actual Kaiju monsters didn’t show up at all. MINOR SPOILER ALERT - The Jaeger/Kaiju hybrids would have been more interesting as the big villains - END SPOILER. There just seems to be a lot of mindless, tiring action in the third act that could have been cut out to improve the story and characters in the first two acts. It gets pretty messy in the end, but Spaeny and Boyega together improve the last act with their interactions; if only we had gotten more of them before.
(P.S. why did they have to insert commentary on drone warfare? It was so outrageously out of place and doesn’t make sense in the world they live in. Also, I not a fan of Charlie Day’s schtick…)
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is a pretty blatant international box office play with its Asian-focused cast, and doesn’t really have anything to say. It seems like the director was sidelined and hired to make a serviceable movie. And it worked to a degree; I can’t deny I was having fun during the fight scenes, no matter how tiresome they became. There are a lot of missed opportunities in this relatively pedestrian action spectacle, but the things I liked about it made the whole affair not a bad sit.
RATING: DIDN’T WASTE MY TIME
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)