Film Review – Pacific Rim: Uprising
Pacific Rim: Uprising
What to say of Pacific Rim: Uprising, the big, dumb sequel to Guillermo del Toro‘s big, dumb robots vs. monsters spectacle of 2013? (I know the original has its defenders and I find his output, in general, worth a watch but ultimately discarded Rim as a feast for the eyes and little more.) Well, simply put, it’s dumb. But that can be fun, too, right?…right?
Del Toro remains on board as a producer for Uprising but handed the directorial reigns over to Steven S. DeKnight, mostly known for his TV work (Spartacus, Daredevil.) And while DeKnight struggles to match the spectacle and gravitas of his predecessor, he at least seems to be enjoying himself.
His ace-in-the-hole is John Boyega, apparently adamant on oozing charm over every existing sci-fi franchise. Here he stars as Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba‘s character from the first film. 10 years have passed since the events of Pacific Rim and the frenetic montage that kicks things off lets us know Jake is no Stacker. He seems more intent on boozing it up and smuggling Sriracha (a prized commodity in this post-kaiju world) than saving the planet.
A series of convoluted mishaps sees him arrested alongside Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a teenager who is apparently talented enough to build her own Jaeger (Rim shorthand for giant effing robot.) In order to be released, Jake is blackmailed into re-enlisting in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, where he is tasked to recruit and train a young group of cadets, including Amara. It’s essentially a noisier (and inferior) Bad News Bears.
The inherent problem with Uprising is two-fold: 1) it takes well over an hour to get to the robot/monster scuffle and 2) WHY THE HELL ELSE AM I HERE BUT FOR THE ROBOT/MONSTER SCUFFLE. There is so, so much pre-amble. It’s amazing that so much screen time is devoted to ostensible character development, but still manages to be this embarrassingly underwritten. A certain late-in-the-film character death is, I imagine, supposed to entice some sort of emotional reaction, but we’ve learned so little about them, I struggled to even remember their name.
Scott Eastwood (son of you-know-who) also pops up as a rival trainer alongside Jake, and the ham-fisted repartee that develops between them is one for the ages. Meaning it’s bad. Quite bad.
Boyega is a star for a reason, though. Even the cornier lines of his dialogue elicit smiles, and you have to admire him for being the only one who seems to know what movie he’s in. And once the monster kerfuffle finally does happen, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Granted, there are some groan-worthy sight gags that seem to have materialized from a Transformers cutting room floor, but the audience I saw it with ate it up, so what do I even know.
I invited a friend who is a passionate fan of Del Toro’s original, and he seethed for the entire 111 minute run time. In fact, I’d say half the fun for me was turning to take in his perpetually shaking head. But hey, I’m the reviewer here and I give it a…C. Yeah, let’s go with C.