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Pacific Rim: Uprising – Movie Review

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Pacific Rim: Uprising – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

With Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro brought his love for Japanese monster movies and robot toys to the screen with a genuine joy that radiated off the screen. It was certainly silly and ridiculous, but del Toro chose the proper tone with which to portray this concept. Taking over for del Toro on the sequel, Steven S. DeKnight has kept true to that philosophy and has created another bit of stupid B-movie fun. There is a spirit to the action and seeing these monsters and robots fight each other that is oddly enjoyable. Nobody is expecting some intellectual examination of humanity in Pacific Rim: Uprising and that’s fine. This manages to be an entertaining amusement park ride and leaving your brain at the door is not a requirement.

Pacific Rim: Uprising doesn’t waste any time getting to the action, as the movie quickly establishes John Boyega’s hero Jake. All you need to know is he’s the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first film and Boyega has enough charm to make us like Jake. He is sometimes joined by newcomer Cailee Spaeny, who has the proper amount of spunk to play a robot-loving heroine, although she is primarily saddled with other teenagers through most of her screen time. The section of the teenagers in training is the least interesting part of Uprising, relying on the clichés often seen in movies with young adults forced into military preparation.

However, most people seeing Pacific Rim: Uprising aren’t looking for deep characterization. The characters are simply defined, but thankfully don’t reach the cardboard and annoying personalities seen in similar blockbusters like Transformers. There’s something amusing about how much Scott Eastwood tries to channel his father, complete with clenched teeth and the trademark squint. Charlie Day also seems to relish playing his excitable kaiju fanboy and his enthusiasm hasn’t diluted in the sequel. The story is appropriately simple, but there are some occasional twists and turns and it nicely expands on the mythology introduced by del Toro and Travis Beacham in the first film.

The action, the principal reason people will want to see Uprising, is colourful and energetic. DeKnight and the visual effects team know the audience wants to see what’s going on and despite multiple robots on screen, it’s easy to tell them apart and know who is in which fighting machine. The joyfulness of del Toro’s direction is also evident in DeKnight’s work, although he prefers to go for colour rather than the predecessor’s rainy dark nights. There is a lot of creativity involved in the monsters and their abilities as well as the various weapons in the heroes’ bag of tricks. While the third act does run the risk of being a little long, the pacing is otherwise fairly decent. Running twenty minutes shorter than Pacific Rim, the sequel nicely jumps from set-piece to set-piece without feeling exhausting.

The Pacific Rim films seem to happily rely on bringing the audience a spectacle mixed with childlike innocence. They present the fun of having your toys ram into each other, but without turning everything into a headache inducing mess. Movies like this might be looked down upon in the critical establishment, but when done properly, they provide the necessary amount of entertainment value. Sometimes, it’s okay to just have “fun” and without resorting to insulting the audience’s intelligence. Guillermo del Toro presented a good natured giddiness with the first movie and Steven S. DeKnight more than continues that promise, thus resulting in many smile worthy moments.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison