When viewing the first "Pacific Rim" movie, the expectation was to see a film with a dumb plot that was there just to be the excuse for a giant robot to fight a giant monster. The first movie surprised us with actual character development, some emotional depth, and an interesting world which the film inhabited.
Expectations going into its sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising, weren’t spectacularly high, with Guillermo del Toro not returning to direct, but nonetheless, it was expected that some care would be given to the aspects of world building and character development that the first one surprised us with.
Unfortunately, Uprising falls flat and delivers what was expected of the first movie. It’s a dumb, basic plot that serves merely as an excuse to see giant robots fight each other and an even bigger monster. While the film does ultimately succeed in some areas, it isn’t as good as the first film.
John Boyega, known primarily for his role as Finn in the new Star Wars movies, stars as Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost from the first film. Jake is a former Jaeger, or giant robot, pilot who left the program in order to become a scrapper and party in California.
Boyega does a good job with the role, being charming and funny, but the problem is that he’s the only truly convincing character in the whole movie. The only other character to get any substantial development is Cailee Spaeny’s Amara, a young orphan who is good with machines. While her arc is very stereotypical, the character does grow and change well in the movie.
While the other characters aren’t poorly acted by any means, they lack depth and feel incredibly sidelined compared to Boyega. Boyega is a certified star in the film, but it would’ve been nice to see some of the side characters, like Scott Eastwood’s character, Nate, get more development in the movie.
The score for the movie is very underwhelming compared to the first, which was very bombastic and in your face. The score here is much more generic and stays out of the way of the movie, which is disappointing.
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Ultimately though, this movie boils down to the robot fights. The CGI for the movie is consistently good, and in the first two acts, the fights are really fun to watch on screen. They are dynamic and are pure eye candy for the viewer. The stakes during the fight feel more real, and it never gets so cheesy to where it feels out of place in the world of the film.
Mild spoiler ahead, there is a big fight at the end the end of the movie. While this fight is a giant spectacle and looks great on behalf of the CGI of the film, it doesn’t quite have the energy of the previous fights in the movie. It becomes almost cartoonish and does feel out of place to the rest of the movie. While the fight is still fun, it does draw the viewer out of the film.
The end of the movie really feels like a set up for future films. If more Pacific Rim movies end up being made, they should follow more of the example of the first film.
Ultimately, if you want to see a movie about giant robots fighting other giant robots and giant monsters, then you will find enjoyment out of Pacific Rim: Uprising. If you want a more interesting movie that also features giant robot fights, watch the original film.
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