Review: “Pacific Rim: Uprising” Is A Pale Shadow Of Its Intriguing Predecessor
Pacific Rim: Uprising is a sequel to the original sci-fi action film Pacific Rim co-written and directed by the visionary award-winning director, Guillermo del Toro which was released in 2013. Now, five years later, we have a new director– Steven S. DeKnight —at the helm of affairs.
More often than not, a new director usually means a new direction because different directors have their varying styles and approach in the way they construct movies. For the first Pacific Rim film, the story follows the story of General Stacker Pentecost (played by Idris Elba) who sacrificed himself to save the planet when otherworldly monsters called kaiju invaded the earth. They came to the earth through a breach in the Pacific Rim sent by an alien race called the Precursors. To fight back, the humans built giant robots called Jaegers and fought back, eventually closing up the breach to the Pacific rim with General Pentecost blowing himself up in the process. For those familiar with Guillermo del Toro’s work (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape Of Water), they will agree that the first movie maintained his signature balance of odd, weird and fascinating.
Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the events of its predecessor and tells the story of General Pentecost’s son Jake (played by John Boyega) who is desperately trying to leave his father’s legacy behind. When we first meet him, he’s a party animal who lives for the thrill of the moment. An encounter with a young girl called Amara (played by Cailee Spaeny) who built an illegal mini-Jaeger gets him arrested and eventually takes him back to the camp of the Rangers where he is united with is his former partner and rival Nate Lambert (played by Scott Eastwood).
In this film, most of the elements that work well do so because of the presence of John Boyega. Idris Elba is an actor whose shoes are not easy to fill but Boyega does a good job of owning his role. He had the most screen time and every time he was present, he brought an easiness and likeability to his role that you can’t help but adore. Burn Gorman and Rinko Kikuchi also return reprising their roles in the first film in splendid fashion. Charlie Day, however, loses most of the elements of his original character and returns to play a character that can be compared to the portrayal of Lex Luthor in DC’s Batman VS Superman. This is where the film begins it’s endless downwards spiral.
Pacific Rim: Uprising tries very hard to be itself own film but it’s impossible to watch it without comparing it to the first. This is not because Pacific Rim was a perfect movie but because it was a well thought out film full of imagination and a well-defined structure. In contrast, the sequel borrows elements from the first movie but because the film is in new hands, it doesn’t know how to use them. Most of the supporting characters are dispensable and when they die, their deaths do not carry any weight or change the existing plot in any way.
With all these issues laid on the table, the greatest sin this film commits lie in the fight scenes. Pacific Rim’s most attractive qualities come from the epic battles sequences between the Jaegers and the Kaiju. Pacific Rim: Uprising fell short of all expectations in this regard with mediocre fight sequences that make the Transformers films look like cinematic gold. The best fight scene came up towards the end of the film and although it was aesthetically pleasing, it was underwhelming considering the issues at stake.
In the end, Pacific Rim: Uprising was what Independence Day: Resurgence was to its predecessor; a watered-down follow-up to a timeless classic, made to appeal to a younger audience.