The first Pacific Rim film was released in 2013. Despite being directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and suffused with his trademark visual style and edge, it failed to break even in the United States but went on to score over 300million dollars from foreign territories.
A sequel wasn’t guaranteed but producers and the studio have eventually made it happen five years later. del Toro has left the reins, handing it over to first time feature length director, Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus, Dare Devil) but staying on as producer.
Also boarding the producer vehicle for the first time in his career, thanks to a lucrative gig headlining the new Star Wars franchise, is Nigerian-British actor, John Boyega. Boyega joins Pacific Rim Uprising as Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s Kaiju War hero. Stacker Pentecost from the first film.
Pacific Rim Uprising is set ten years after the Battle of the Breach, in which the Jaegers rallied around cities all around the Pacific to defeat the evil alien Kaiju. Most of the original who participated in this battle cast isn’t returning for round two. Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori no longer pilots Jaegers and has graduated into an administrative role in what may ultimately be described as a cameo. Charlie Day’s crazy scientist, Newt Geiszler still provides some of Uprising’s biggest laughs but his character is no longer as interesting, despite an added twist.
Amidst the ruins of the post-apocalypse, Jake Pentecost is merely coasting along in sunny California attending debauched parties set to Wizkid’s Daddy Yo, and selling once profitable items on the black market. He used to be a Jaeger pilot at some point in his life but he’s burned out pretty hard. Nothing much interests him anymore until he comes across Amara (Cailee Spaeny,) a tough, talented kid who has built and powered her own Jaeger.
Jake and Amara are soon hustled into service to be commandeered by Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and before long, all three are battling ferocious Kaijus, returned from their resting place at the bottom of the ocean. A sub-plot involves Chinese star, Jing Tian as a corporate executive applying factory produced Jaegers as surveillance drones but even this is all in service to the movie’s ultimate reason for existence.
If there is any reason for greenlighting this big bore of a sequel, besides making money and setting up yet another profitable franchise, it is to set up another giant, violent, noisy CGI powered show down that is as numbing as it will be engaging for fan boys awaiting the next Transformers bore.
Despite or because of the millions of dollars sunk in, Pacific Rim Uprising is as basic as can be and Boyega’s easy, laid back charm, prominent when he is trading quips with his co-stars is wasted in the turgidity of DeKnight’s direction. The fight scenes are competent and may occasionally thrill even the most stoic of viewers but the heart and visual flair that del Toro at least managed to pour into the first one is absent here.
Just machines clanging and beating the dreck out of one another.