Pacific Rim: Uprising
You can’t get more of a clichéd blockbuster than a story about giant robots beating the hell out of giant alien-monsters. Back in 2013, with Pacific Rim, this bombastic concept was flavored with color and faint life by now Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro. With a sequel five years later, the absence of Del Toro is deeply felt.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is a sequel no one really was asking for. The story follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the heroic commander who perished in the first film (played then by Idris Elba) as he seemingly shrugs off his inherited skill and drinks his worries away, until he is called upon to save the world like his father once did.
By losing Del Toro Uprising loses a lot of the visual uniqueness that made the first film such a guilty pleasure for some. Instead TV director Steven S. Knight is given his first film job, and he can’t stave off falling into cookie-cutter blockbuster territory. The fact that the film also lost its leading man (Charlie Hunnam who refused to come back for a sequel) and that that film’s co-lead is relegated to a mere cameo (Rinko Kikuchi) here, makes Uprising see more like a bland reboot than a sequel at all. We are infused with many new characters, we barely get any from the first film (the funny duo in the first film played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman do return, though the slowly become obnoxious). John Boyega does weed us through to the finish line with his charisma and charm, and it’s nice to see that the Star Warsactor can carry a blockbuster as a leading man, but there’s only so much one man can do.
As for the actual monster vs. robots fight, we barely see any at all. The filmmakers seemed to think that we were interested in these new characters they were throwing at us and so we really only get about 20 minutes of action in the nearly two hours of runtime. That said when the fight breaks out the effects leave you in awe; Uprising is able to portray the sheer scale of the huge robots and monsters in a way not many other effects-heavy films have been able to do. This might have to do with how they actually took measurements and made their creatures in proportion to the city they are set in.
Pacific Rim: Uprising doesn’t offer much fun overall. It’s fairly unoriginal, lacking Del Toro’s flair, so that we get as typical and stale of a studio-movie you could expect of today.