Movie Review: ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’

March 28, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Movies, Reviews | Leave a comment

Pacific Rim: Uprising is not better than it’s predecessor, but if you’re looking for a popcorn flick with giant robots and monsters fighting, then you might want to consider this one. It’s not great, but it’s kind of enjoyable.

John Boyega plays the lead in this movie, with Cailee Spaeny making a strong play for second place. Unfortunately they are the only two interesting characters in the movie, and that’s mostly because none of the other characters are really explored or developed. At least Boyega and Spaeny do good jobs at playing their characters. Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba’s character in the first movie) and spends the movie trying to find his place. He was kicked out of the Jaeger program and has spent his years since then as a thief living on the streets and abandoned mansions. It’s there that he runs into Spaeny’s character, Amara Namani, who has built her own Jaeger, which is also highly illegal. The two of them form a bond that sticks through the rest of the movie as they both wind up in the Jaeger program, and eventually fight other giant robots and alien monsters.

Now the interesting thing is that there are no giant monsters in this movie until nearly the end of the movie. Except for a few quick flashbacks, they’re just not there because the rift was closed and the world has been at peace for years. However, there is a subplot which introduces some “enemy” Jaegers, so you get some Jaeger vs Jaeger action. This gets ramped up to the point of them fighting a bunch of mutant Jaegers, and eventually the giant monsters show up, so they get to fight those. Just keep in mind you’ll have to wait a bit to get to the big things fighting each action, and the really good stuff–the giant monsters–doesn’t kick in till even later.

So let’s go over what didn’t work so well with this movie. Well, for starters, the story is super weak and not all that captivating. There’s a plot about a Chinese corporation building Jaeger drone’s which can be remotely piloted by just one person, thus threatening the existing Jaeger program. There’s Jake trying to figure out whether or not he wants to embrace being a Jaeger pilot. There’s Spaeny trying to figure out how to drift with other people so she can become a pilot. And there’s an entire thread with Charlie Day’s character, Dr. Newton Geiszler, a character who carries over from the original movie. None of these plots are all that interesting. They either don’t make a whole lot of sense, thus you shouldn’t think to hard about them, or there’s just isn’t any investment in the idea to make you care. Mostly, they’re just not developed well. They’ll all half ideas that are never completely examined or focused on. For instance, Jake is kicked out of the Jaeger program because he tried to pilot a Jaeger by himself and it fell over. That’s it. His dad, for some reason, was ticked off by that and kicked him out. Pretty weak. And in this movie, they quickly stick him back in simply because they’re in need of instructors, not because of any looming threat. Without getting into too much spoiler content, Geiszler’s plot could have been interesting, but they never go into his motivations, so you have no idea why he wants what he’s doing.

But let’s face it, no one is going into Pacific Rim: Uprising expecting plot. This is an over the top action movie. While it does deliver action, it’s nothing breathtaking or groundbreaking. The cinematography and direction could have been way better. The directing on this film should be no surprise as Steven S. DeKnight has no experience as a movie directory. All of his past work has been TV shows, and at that, only a handful. He’s very much a new kid on the block, and going by this film, he doesn’t have much to offer. The director of photography, on the other hand, is Dan Mindel, who has worked on some big movies, like The Force Awakens for example. So, whoever is to blame, they really soft balled it with the action and visuals. It’s what you’d expect from a action sequel being churned out by Hollywood. It doesn’t raise the bar.

One last thing worth mentioning, and something I didn’t realize until I started looking up the cast and crew. Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Eastwood, is in this movie. He plays the Jaeger pilot who used to be Jake’s buddy, and eventually they become buddy’s again. Regardless, his character is the most annoying and least interesting in the entire movie. I don’t think it’s his fault so much as that’s the way the character was written. I mean they actually make the point of saying he has a stick up his butt in the movie, so if that’s what they wanted from the character, he nailed it. The bad side is that it doesn’t add anything enjoyable to the film.

In the end, Pacific Rim: Uprising is a weaker shadow of its predecessor. There’s big robots fighting other big robots and monsters, but it’s not better than what we’ve already seen. It’s not exactly more of the same, either. The feel of this film is different. It’s pretty much a lesser film in all ways. As is, I give it a two and a half out of five metal bikinis. If you’ve got MoviePass, it’s worth checking out, but if you’re going to be paying full price for a movie ticket, you’d be better off watching this on Netflix down the road.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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