In all honesty, I was surprised that we finally got a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. I say that because even though it had a fair share of mixed reviews with a lot of fans enjoying it, the film underperformed at the box office when it was released in the summer of 2013 as it grossed $101 Million domestically on a $190 Million budget. For me, still haven’t re-watched it since I saw it in theaters, but the more I thought about it, it’s a fine Sci-Fi movie. But five years later, we finally get to see giant robots fight off against giant monsters once again in Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Picking up ten years later, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost, was once a promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life secure humanity’s victory against the Kaiju. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world down, he’s given one last chance to live up his legacy.
Del Toro (still a producer) unfortunately didn’t come back to helm the sequel, instead, Steven S. DeKnight (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Netflix’s Daredevil) is tapped to direct his first feature film. Even so, nothing this sequel made me anxious to see what happens next since none of the trailers weren’t Though I thought the first film delivered as awesome visual effects and some well-done fight sequences (that I wish I saw in IMAX), it really let me and others down on the quality of the both the story and characters. Though still hesitant about this will play out, it’s no big surprise that Pacific Rim: Uprising didn’t try its hardest to be entertaining.
For a first time director on a huge movie, you can kind of tell that DeKnight is handling the second installment of a franchise and it felt very small scale without feeling anything gigantic. Everything is a step back for how del Toro put his vibrant style to his filmmaking. Now, it comes off as a little boring and cheap. This was also written by four writers (DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin), and you just know it’s going to have some cliches that you’ve seen before. Both films do suffer from a bland story that doesn’t get any attachment to the plot or any of the characters. One of the aspects that I didn’t like about either film is “drifting” to help them fight better. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t need to be included.
Boyega was primarily the main reason this might be at least good. But he was honestly my favorite thing throughout the film since he always brings his charisma to any role he gives. He was considered a better lead character than Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh in the last film, which they didn’t mention him at all. Even when the film isn’t at all good, he really does try his best to carry the film even when the terrible script.
Newcomer Cailee Spaeny’s Amara Namani is the street kid who knows how to build her own mini-Jaeger, and she was perfectly fine in the role and she and Boyega had some alright chemistry as she’s taken under Jake’s wing when she becomes a cadet.
Almost all of the action sequences didn’t really grab me. The action delivered in the first film was something of an eye-spectacle with the fights between the Jagers and the Kijus. This barely has it in here. Sure, there are some fight scenes, but it takes a while for the two enemies to actually battle on another.
Any attempts at the humor thrown in here are perhaps the weakest because it seemed like they were trying too hard to get laughs out of the audience. Lucky enough this didn’t contain the cringe-type comedy that came out of the Transformers franchise, but it really came off as lame. The last half is basically one giant fight scene
Some of the cast from the previous film appear in this such as Rinko Kikuchi’s Make Mori, who I totally forgot who she was. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman also made their return as Dr. Newt Geiszler and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, respectively, and they were fairly entertaining before, but they don’t have that much to do. And Day’s performance in some kind of character shift just made the plot even more ridiculous. I even had a chuckle at one moment. And then Scott Eastwood who just doesn’t provide anything special almost underused to a point.
There was never a point where it was engaging because of the plot and it just continued to become this loud noise that can’t be enjoyed. For someone who really enjoys a well-crafted Sci-Fi, this is on the scale of being dumb, and not in a guilty pleasure way. But it easily made me question if I actually thought the original was even good or not.
Poor storyline, no big scope, and just not that entertaining, Pacific Rim: Uprising an unworthy sequel adding no stakes to be found from the previous film.