Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Tian Jing
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.
I want to add a disclaimer to this review before I start: I abhor movie snobbery. People should watch what makes them happy, be it Adam Sandler movies or dogme 95. Who cares, right? Life’s too short for guilty pleasures and I strongly believe we should all be loud-mouthed enthusiasts. So when it comes to blockbuster season, I am all in.
I live to see giant robots/apes/aliens smashing the shit out of one another while the poor city around them crumbles to the ground. I love action heroes and explosions, prehistoric sharks, Wookies and above all, spectacle. It doesn’t always work and I don’t always leave the theater satisfied but I’m still down for whatever because that’s what film is about: Escapism. Joy. Magic (in no particular order).
Pacific Rim (2013) was a balls out sci-fi adventure romp directed by Guillermo del Toro, a high octane alien ride of epic proportion starring Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, the hero of the hour and defender of the universe. And although I realised during the viewing of its sequel that I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it (apart from how Elba filled his uniform), the first movie was HUGE and beloved by fans around the globe.
Uprising follows Jake Pentecost (Boyega), son of Stacker and all-round babe ten years after the first movie. Oh to keep it that family, eh? (sorry Mum).
Jake isn’t as disciplined as his Kaiju war hero father and is reluctant at times to be associated due to the fact that he doesn’t stack up that favourably in comparison. *Spoiler* Pops sacrificed himself for the good of humankind remember? And Jake’s more irresponsible than that.
When he gets picked up by the feds for nefarious horseplay, he’s given an ultimatum by PPDC General Secretary Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who is also Jake’s adoptive sister: join the Jaeger program as a cadet trainer or face prison. Along the way he picks up Jaegar enthusiast Amara (Spaeny), a scrap yard baby who has single-handedly built her own Jaegar from scratch. Amara is recruited as a cadet for the program too because of course she is.
Things kick off quickly as the Kaiju return to fuck up Earth and the responsibility of saving the world is once more placed in the hands of a Pentecost. Is Jake up to the task? With the help of his new recruits and old buddy Nate Lambert (Eastwood) you could say he’ll at least give it his best shot.
In other news, Charlie Day’s high-energy Doctor Newton Geiszler is up to his own japes while super-bitch Liwen Shao (Jing) heads Shao Corporation’s drone program, which threatens to overshadow everything the Jaeger program has been working toward. For the good of mankind, can’t they all just get along? Hmmmmm?
This sequel is not great, nor will it particularly stick in the mind. It is what it is in the moment, it’s fun and larger than life. The robot work is excellent and frankly, at least this isn’t as soulless as some of the Transformer movies.
It’s clever to have cast Boyega in the lead, he’s gorgeous, funny and a good actor, just like his father (Stacker) but he’s also very current and off the back of his Star Wars success, probably the best man for the job. Although he doesn’t have a lot of really sophisticated dialogue to work with here, he seems to be having fun and that my friends is half the battle. The other half is the Kaiju themselves obvi.
I think my forgetfulness relating to the original PR has harmed my enjoyment of Newt’s story line as I didn’t even remember Charlie Day was in it. He’s definitely and understandably the comic relief and he does an okay job. He puts me in mind of a younger Bobcat Goldthwaite but not as accomplised.
Clint Eastwood’s son Scott doesn’t fair well either, though he is uncannily like his father in certain lights. I did also like the females in this movie – it’s good to see equal opportunity on the battlefield and in the laboratories. I thought Tian Jing was good as not-all-bad corporate witch Liwen Shao particularly.
All in all I’m not mad I saw this on the big screen if only to get my Boyega on and to soak up the scale of everything.