I’d rather just play with some toys
“Pacific Rim: Uprising”
By Jason Wiese
When a film that I do not like spawns a sequel, the feeling is usually mixed. One half of me asks the question, “Who wants to see any more of that?,” while the other, more optimistic half asks, “Could this be a chance to right some wrongs?”
Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 cinematic adaptation of playing with robots and monster action figures in the bathtub, is a conceptual dreamboat. I mean, who would not want to see humans pilot robots the size of skyscrapers to take on gargantuan beasts sent to Earth by interdimensional creatures to wipe out humanity? If the film was not a predictable, tone-deaf mess with cringeworthy dialogue and insufferably bland characters, I would have thought it was perfect. But after seeing Steven DeKnight’s follow-up, Pacific Rim: Uprising, I might be willing to give the original a second chance.
John Boyega (Star Wars’ Finn and Attack the Block’s Moses) is Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who gave his life in the original Pacific Rim in an effort to, as he called it, “cancel the apocalypse” in the final battle between the man-piloted mechanical Jaegers and the evil, monstrous Kaiju. Ten years later, Jake, to avoid jail, reluctantly accepts an offer from his half-sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, reprising her role) to train young cadets to be the next rangers and prepare for the day the Kaiju may return.
Despite his reluctance, he very quickly turns to become a team player, rekindling his rocky friendship with his former drift partner Nate Lambert (Clint’s son Scott Eastwood, who proves in this film that the apple can indeed fall far from the tree), collaborating with in-house science consultants Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and forming a close bond with troubled, yet ambitious cadet Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). Soon, the world will be desperate for Jake’s skills behind a Jaeger when a certain plot point that you would swear came from the minds of the Zucker Brothers (the guys behind the essential masterpiece in film parodies, Airplane!) will reignite the war between machine and monster.
If you are like me and thought that Pacific Rim, even in Del Toro’s hands, was a misguided mess, just you wait and see what Mr. DeKnight and his three (yeah, THREE!) co-screenwriters cook up this time. Instead of taking advantage of the original’s most redeeming qualities, it seems they made a conscious decision to scrap all of that and add an extra pile of “what the hell?!” to fill the gaps.
The plot is pure ludicrous, which I would go further into detail as of why if I did not have such an infuriating time trying to keep up with it. The acting is atrocious, minus the silver lining that is John Boyega. The battle sequences, despite some impressive special effects, feel cheap and thoroughly uninspired.
Honestly, I made an effort to shut my brain off and just let my entertainment-hungry heart lead the way. Unfortunately, my head and my heart agreed this time. Pacific Rim: Uprising is not the worst popcorn movie I have ever seen, but in a year in which, surprisingly, some of the most impressive films thus far have been big budget spectacles, this one feels especially weak.