At the Movies - "Pacific Rim Uprising"

Bessie Dean
March 25, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising hasn't been in theaters for a full 24 hours yet, and already director Steven S. DeKnight has his eyes on the future of the franchise. Jake is a once-promising Jaeger pilot and son of war hero Stacker Pentecost (played in the first film by Idris Elba) who washed out and is reluctantly dragged back into the program by his foster sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi, reprising her original role). New director Steven S. DeKnight (who has worked mostly in TV, notably on the Spartacus shows, Daredevil and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) fares relatively well with the action scenes, which are about as clear and well-blocked as two CGI robots could hope to be. The series made the jump from WB to Universal after Legendary Pictures signed a five-year distribution deal with Universal in 2014. Pacific Rim Uprising is, in fact, as close to being the very opposite as it can be while remaining a movie about giant robots wailing on giant monsters. The comedy double act of Burn Gorman and Charlie Day pick up where they left off from the first film to provide some of the lighter moments.

Not to knock the next generation, but by replacing the first film's older-trending pilots with a team of much younger cadets, it feels like a blatant attempt to attract a younger audience demographic. Uprising lacks Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning vision, but it might be a purer, pulpier distillation of the source material in all of its gravity-defying absurdity. He has a more lucrative hustle in finding and selling parts of jaegers (the mind-controlled robots that humans used to fight the kaiju) to the highest bidder.

Monster mash'n mayhem ensues as the Jaegers romp and stomp with the scaly otherwordly monsters, called Kaiju.

Unfortunately for them, but luckily for us, two new concerns present themselves shortly after Pentecost and Namani arrive at the PPDC in Hong Kong: Shao Corporation's remote-controlled drone programme, developed by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) and Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), threatens to make the retired Jaeger machines obsolete; and odd and scary things are afoot again in the ocean. We return to these teenagers whenever it's convenient to the plot, without ever really getting to know any of them. It's not even comparable to a movie in the character-focused "Fast & Furious" franchise.

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The new film does a good job of explaining all this to the uninitiated, probably helped by the fact that almost everyone in the film is a brand-new character who needs everything explained to them.

"Check your brain at the door" is nearly a requirement for "Pacific Rim: Uprising" because the film rewrites some of the events of the original for the sake of plot convenience. You know what? Provided they bring Boyega back, continue to ratchet up the absurdity, and let me name at least 2 jaegers (Frankenstein Cher and Odysseus Hemorrhoid), I'm all about it.

To get to the point - yes, you can totally watch this film without having seen the first Pacific Rim. And finally, the truth reveals itself when we discover that his girlfriend Alice is actually the Kaiju brain from the first film - a brain Newt still drifts with quite frequently. On face-value, Pacific Rim: Uprising is a perfectly watchable action film with some good performances thrown in.

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