Director: Steven S DeKnight
I’m one of those who thoroughly enjoyed the first Pacific Rim movie from 2013. In the hands of Guillermo del Toro, that giant robots-versus-giant sea monsters smackdown was an undeniably entertaining affair – a blockbuster with personality, an action movie with gravitas. It’s taken five years for them to make a sequel, but Pacific Rim Uprising has neither del Toro in the driver’s eat, nor much by way of originality, flair, or that giddy sense of fun he brought to the previous film.
Basically it’s a lot like a Transformers movie, but just a wee bit more coherent.
Set ten years after the events of the last film, in which ‘jaeger’ robots vanquished the ‘kaiju’ monsters that had entered our world through a crack in the ocean floor, Uprising stars John Boyega as Jake, the bad apple son of Idris Elba’s character, General Stacker Pentecost who sacrificed his life trying to protect humanity in that epic battle.
Now because Jake seems determined to get as far away as he can from his father’s shadow, you know it’s going to fall upon him to embrace his destiny and emerge the reluctant hero when the kaiju return…angrier, stronger, and seemingly indestructible.
The plot is nothing more than a collection of clichés that reunites Jake with his half sister (Rinko Kikuchi), an old rival (Scott Eastwood), and a teenage hacker (Cailee Spaeny), and they’re thrown together as a team to save the planet. Those deadly kaiju don’t show up till pretty late in the film, and predictably the action is set-piece after set-piece involving lots of noise and lots of special effects. But unlike the Transformers movies, whose breathless editing makes it hard to tell who’s doing what to whom, the sequences here are often spectacular to look at and take in, particularly the impressive climax at the top of Mt Fuji in Japan.
Television veteran Steven S DeKnight directs without much surprise or risk, but he deserves credit for showing restraint and not going all Michael Bay on us. Some interesting ideas are explored – which I’ll allow you to discover for yourself – but the film never aims for greatness. It seems content at being merely serviceable.
I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Pacific Rim Uprising. It’s better than a Transformers film, but that’s hardly praise.