Pacific Rim Uprising Review

The Plot

10 years after the people of earth defeated the giant monster Kaiju with their own towering Jaeger machines, the son of one of the heroes that saved the world finds himself reluctantly brought back into the fight, uniting with a new generation of Jaeger pilots to face a deadly a mysterious new threat.

The Good

John Boyega continues his meteoric rise once again in increasingly comfortable sci-fi fantasy territory. He delivers arguably his most well rounded and charismatic performance to date as roguish Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost. Sparring well on screen with co-stars Scott Eastwood and Cailee Spaeny, Boyega is genuinely heroic in ways he largely hasn’t been in his very high profile Star Wars role. After The Last Jedi it’s particularly nice to see the young star showcase the full range of his talents as a legitimate leading man, rather than see him stranded in unnecessary subplots.

Fans familiar with the first film will welcome the return of original stars Charlie Day, Burn Gornan and Rinko Kikichi . Their presence and the film’s careful adherence to the distinctive look of Del Toro’s world helps tie the franchise together into a coherent continuation.

Those that found Del Toro’s original film to be occasionally slow moving and more preoccupied with human melodrama than non-stop monster fighting will welcome a sequel that unashamedly focuses on more frequent action. Similar critics of the most recent Godzilla reboot will be pleased to see a film which places the giant monsters and their mechanical fighting partners on full glorious display throughout. Its cartoonish fun but on the grandest scale possible, giving fans exactly what they want, a giant guilty pleasure.

While the film’s plot is at times a little predictable, this is perhaps less of an issue given the heavy focus on fun and action. Uprising is also fairly accessible to those who have yet to see the first film, but many of the subplots and character relationships may require at least a basic knowledge of the first film to fully enjoy.

The Bad

Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was beautifully crafted fun, born out of his own evident passion for the giant monster genre. By contrast this is a sequel seemingly more born out of a studio desire to repeat the modest international box office success of the first film. Del Toro’s original was a largely self-contained story that left audiences with a satisfying and seemingly definitive climax. So this sequel’s efforts to integrate new characters and plot points into the original story feel at times a little forced and distracting.

While John Boyega’s character being the son of Idris Elba’s heroic leader Stacker Pentecost may serve the narrative of this new chapter, it’s awkwardly inconsistent with the fact that he was never referenced in the first film, much of which dwelt so extensively on the relationship between Stacker and his adoptive daughter Mako.

While much of the surviving cast of the first film make a welcome on screen return, it is difficult to ignore the unexplained absence of leading man Charlie Hunnam’s character Raleigh Beckett. Director Steven S. DeKnight apparently made a conscious choice to leave his fate uncertain, keeping options open for his hopeful return in a third film. But it’s another example of a messy loose thread left by attempts to tie the two films together.

While visually the film does a fine job of matching the well-established look of Del Toro’s world,  faster paced action and less memorable monsters does at times give the film a more generic ‘Transformers’ quality. The Kaiju in the new film are far less distinctive and aside from their newfound ability to ‘combine’ (heavily showcase in all film’s promotional material) they offer little to improve on Del Toro’s eccentric creature creations.

The Ugly Truth

Pacific Rim Uprising will be a welcomed treat for fans of the original film who were left eager for more giant monster sized fun. Uprising boasts a talent young cast alongside it’s scattering of familiar faces, eagerly injecting fresh life into the potential franchise. Overall Uprising does a fine job of replicating Del Toro’s impressive visuals while adapting the franchise into something perhaps more widely appealing for generic blockbuster crowds.

Review by Russell Nelson


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