With its lacklustre US box office and director Guillermo del Toro busy winning Oscars, a sequel to the wonderful monsters vs robots extravaganza Pacific Rim looked unlikely. Five years later, the sequel has arrived in the hands of a new team and, sadly, we kind of wish it hadn’t. Eschewing the sincerity and occasional majesty of the original in favour of faster, goofier action, Pacific Rim Uprising loses the soul that made its predecessor special.
Set 10 years after the Kaiju-spewing Breach was closed, Uprising picks up with Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of the Idris Elba-played, apocalypse-cancelling Stacker Pentecost. Initially reluctant, Jake joins the Jaeger (giant robot) pilot programme, just in time for a new threat of rogue Jaegers and even bigger Kaijus to emerge.
The film skips along at a brisk pace, and though it’s never boring, it’s never exactly thrilling either. Almost all of the dialogue is merely functional, and though the action is crisper and clearer this time out (first-time director Steven S. DeKnight deserves a lot of praise for keeping the fights coherent), it lacks the supremely engaging weight of del Toro’s brawls.
Everything in Uprising, from the Jaegers to the pilot quarters, is sleek and shiny, lacking that desperate, end-of-the-world grit that initially sold Pacific Rim’s world, although that’s not to say that the visuals aren’t still pretty incredible. DeKnight’s story does manage to pack in a few surprise rug-pulls, but lacks real stakes and features one of the most superfluous romantic subplots in recent memory.
Boyega brings charm and charisma to a pretty rote role, but it’s Charlie Day who is MVP as returning scientist Newt. He’s both campy and disconcerting, far more memorable than the interchangeable supporting cast, who instantly slip from the mind as soon as the bizarrely sudden ending hits.
CAST: John Boyega, Charlie Day, Scott Eastwood, Rinko Kikuchi, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Tian Jing, Adria Arjona
DIRECTOR: Steven S. DeKnight
WRITERS: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin
SYNOPSIS: Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.