With as much bombastic action and showy visuals as its predecessor – Pacific Rim Uprising strays away from offering any dramatic changes to its formula in order to maintain its over-the-top theatricality; but is it enough to sustain the weight of these high concept films?
Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to Pacific Rim (2013). Continuing the story 10 years after the breach in the Pacific Ocean was closed and the Kaiju banished; Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) struggles with finding his place as a Jaeger pilot as he lives in the shadow of his father while a new threat arrives to destroy humanity, with supporting roles from Scott Eastwood and young actress Cailee Spaeny as Jaeger pilots.
Aside from some inventive action sequences and gripping visuals I didn’t expect anything dramatic from Pacific Rim Uprising, just like the robots in this film the entire story is purpose-built to entertain you consistently by any means necessary – and to my surprise this sequel succeeds; while offering a far more charismatic lead performance in the process. There are many revisited moments in this film, in an attempt to imitate the good components of the first film this one tends to hang around a little too long in a daze of nostalgia for previous moments that were big in the first film. Now the Pacific Rim plots aren’t traditionally weak in the same way a Transformers film is, Pacific Rim thrives off the campiness and insanity of its own concepts, reveling in going bigger and more crazy with each battle; however, when those battles end and the dust settles the story starts to shift closer toward the characters in an effort to develop them, you begin to see where the basic issues are with these films. Though this film has a trick up its sleeve that the first film did not, John Boyega.
Boyega was a massively refreshing change of pace compared to the previous lead role by Charlie Hunnam, his witty and snappy attitude helped bring energy, comedy, and a more suitable tone compared to Hunnam, while Hunnam was by no means bad his performance was far too serious for a film with giant robots punching giant aliens in the face. Boyega steals away the spotlight, even comedically, as Charlie Day is the standard comedic relief. Day simply has no range in acting whatsoever and this film really solidifies that. The supporting role by young actress Cailee Spaeny was decent and offered more depth than the young actress from Transformers: The Last Knight, as both characters are extremely similar in role.
These films rarely disappoint visually, to my surprise there are generally very little shoddy visuals effects in these films, though that’s not to say the visuals are great. The towering robots over CGI cities all begin to blur together eventually, scale begins to mean less as the fight drags on and after a while you almost forget everything is big. The first film had a very distinct way of reminding audiences just how big the Jaegers and Kaiju were through clever editing and low angle shots, you see very little of this technique in this film. Overall the pacing of this film is strong and has solid action sequences that show the full extent of a battle, there are very few moments where I couldn’t tell what was going on.
Pacific Rim Uprising may just be another loud action movie with little substance, but it still holds rigidity and keeps a consistent flow of entertainment to those going to see it for that purpose. Boyega steals the show and while the characters overall aren’t going to make it down in any film history books they keep the film at a fairly watchable level. This still isn’t a well constructed narrative, nor a particularly amazing visual experience – so in that respect, it kind of doesn’t achieve its goal.