PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING

Oh, giant monster movies. You gotta love ’em, right? Who doesn’t enjoy a good rock ’em, sock ’em time between two gigantic beings in a big city? I know I sure do. I grew up watching the old Godzilla films, all while playing with my toy Godzilla and King Ghidorah, making them fight for real in my bedroom. Watching giant things fight and destroy buildings is like a past time to me, often making me giddy and excited as they throw down. It brings out my inner child, but as I’ve grown older, more logic is required. I of course want to see the action, but I still want things to make sense and have some sort of meaning. 

Ten years after the events of original film, Pacific Rim: Uprising shows the world is an era of peace and restoration after the Kaiju were defeated by the Jaeger robots and their pilots. Jake Pentecost (Johny Boyega), son of deceased Jaeger pilot Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), is a sarcastic man who loves to party and get himself into trouble. This trouble leads to his adoptive sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) bringing Jake on as an instructor of the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) in order to train new Jaeger pilots. He’s brought on at a very convenient time, as evil, rival Jaegers and new Kaiju appear, leading to all sorts of death and destruction. I guess the apocalypse isn’t canceled after all. 

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Pacific Rim. It’s a film with a lot of imagination, fantastic and creative worldbuilding, and some stellar action scenes of robot on monster action. It’s just terribly paced, though, with a lot of screen time devoted to bland characters who speak even blander dialogue. It’s a mostly boring movie with not enough moments of excitement. Simply put, there wasn’t a satisfactory amount of action that a giant monster movie should have, but at least everything made sense. In this new one, there’s plenty of over the top action, but all logic is completely out the window. Aside from the climax, none of the action has any build-up or context to it. It just happens. A perfectly normal scene that’s supposed to develop the plot is suddenly interrupted by an action sequence that doesn’t make any sense. The context is explained later by further plot developments, but when you don’t know why the action is happening during it, it just makes you feel confused and disconnected. 

Practically nothing in this film makes sense, mostly because it’s completely unfocused and doesn’t know what it’s trying to do. There’s at least a dozen characters the filmmakers are trying to get you to care about, most of the them with no depth, or with the most cliché backstory imaginable. Jake is supposed to be the main character and he has an arc, but it mostly just happens because the plot needs it to. At least Boyega is charismatic and really carries the film, because a majority of the other actors are just awful. I had no idea what Scott Eastwood was trying to do with his role other than act terribly. Cailee Spaeney as a scrappy little teenage girl who built her own mini-Jaeger (that’s Phantom Menace levels of stupidity right there) reads all of her lines in the most stilted and forced way possible. At least Charlie Day was a lot of fun and provided some decent laughs, as unintentionally funny some of them may have been. There was never a time I could take any of the attempts at drama seriously at all. Where the original film was just bland and kind of boring, this is just all around bad. 

It honestly felt like I was watching a Saturday morning cartoon at some points because it was so simplistic and poorly written. There’s so much poorly timed, unoriginal humor that it was annoying me by the 20-minute mark. Sure, these movies exist for the purpose of watching robots fight monsters, but there has to be more than just that to make it work. Maybe it’s because writer/director Steven S. DeKnight and his three co-writers didn’t care about trying to make a good film at all. A big reason why this film was made was because the original did very well in China and since it’s such a huge film market now, Universal Pictures and Legendary Picture decided to capitalize on that. It’s evident how much this film is tailored for the foreign market, with entire scenes of dialogue being spoken in Mandarin, and many plot points that take place in China. It being made more for the global market makes it obvious why none of the action scenes have any reason behind them. Nonsense films where nothing but stuff blows up are huge in China, so just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. 

The best thing I can say about Pacific Rim: Uprising is that the effects look stellar and as illogical as they are, some of the action scenes are creative and somewhat fun. Too bad I hardly knew what was going on at any time and even worse, I couldn’t be bothered to care. All I did was laugh, groan, and roll my eyes. There’s nothing but cynicism and pandering to be found here. All just a committee making stuff blow up on screen in an attempt to make a quick buck. The producers are actually throwing the words “cinematic universe” around for this franchise now. According to them, there’s a lot more to all of this than giant robot fighting. Well, whatever else there is, let’s hope it doesn’t get worse than this. The apocalypse should have never been renewed. 

3.5/10

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