Sadly, in today’s capitalist approach to film as a product instead of an art-form, a sequel to a financially successful flick is guaranteed. When Chris Nolan debuted his trailer for The Dark Knight Rises at an award show over half a decade ago, he prefaced it with saying something along the lines of, “This is the best way I could think of to end the story.” When a story doesn’t need to be continued/the passion isn’t there from the start, forcing it is wholly noticeable and will ultimately end up a failure that nearly sullies its precursor (you can read my Top Ten Sequels That are Better Than Their Predecessor if you’d like to see the opposite of this). Pacific Rim was a stylish and passionate film which stood on its own marvelously; it’s sequel reeks of corporate greed. Pacific Rim: Uprising took the heart and cleverness out of a pleasurable movie and milked the robots and monsters for every dime it could.
Pacific Rim: Uprising tells the story of Jake Pentecost, whose father died in the first Kaiju War. He teams up with a young juvenile to work alongside cadets and rangers to be ready for the next attack, which happens sooner than they expected.
The cast is your typical blockbuster crew; a movie star (John Boyega) accompanied by a young newcomer (Cailee Spaeny) who work alongside attractive colleagues (Scott Eastwood and Adria Arjona) and familiar faces from the original (Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, and Rinko Kikuchi). I will give it to Boyega, he has evolved into a full-fledged movie star. He commands the screen just like he did in Attack the Block seven years prior, and is as charming and comfortable as ever.
Most of the others, feel pretty out of place, never believing what they’re seeing, and not helping us believe it either. Hollywood has this odd fascination with trying to make Eastwood a star like his father, something that audiences don’t seem to feel the same craving for. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman return for a little fun comedic relief, but their, and the script’s, misguided take at humour had me wincing more than laughing.
Longtime producer and scattered TV director, Steven K. DeKnight, took over directing from Guillermo del Toro after he couldn’t helm the sequel. Adequate yet forgettable may be the right criticism for him, something that’s worse than a swing and a miss. Michael Bay may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at least he has the gall to use his voice. DeKnight may be the definition of “Pay-for-Hire;” someone the producers can dance around like a puppet who’s lack of expression won’t cause for much backlash when the studio wants changes. An unfortunate progression after such a stylish and distinct spirit in the original.
This is probably more aimed at the male readers; but do you remember smashing your action figures together? You’d make them punch, then fly against a stack of books, and then flip and tackle, and then kick, all while sounding out the effects, “SMASH, WHOOP, BAM, POW?” Now imagine while you did that, the fly on your wall watched it but to them it looked like sloppily rendered CGI and those books were actual buildings. That image you have in your head, add a few boring scenes of exposition, and you basically have Pacific Rim: Uprising on your hands.
“Pacific Rim was a stylish and passionate film which stood on its own marvelously; it’s sequel reeks of corporate greed. Pacific Rim: Uprising took the heart and cleverness out of a pleasurable movie and milked the robots and monsters for every dime it could.”
A clever twist and some mindless fun of watching a heap of metal punch a heap of extra-terrestrial flesh helped this film be more than truly awful. This film is on the cusp of being unentertaining; a few less punches or nixed scenes of Charlie Day being Charlie Day and this film could have reached The Mummy and Geostorm levels of bad in this critic’s eyes. Some filmgoers and cinephiles I have read enjoyed the flick, and power to them, I just cannot look past its faults. The first film was far from perfect, but it tried it’s best to be original and it’s apparent that the men and woman who worked on it cared entirely. Once again, the studios at large took something that was creative, smart, and enjoyable then commercialized it to the highest degree, conclusively basterdizing what once was.