Reviews: the Jaegers are back in Pacific Rim – Uprising
Pacific Rim: Uprising,
Directed by Steven S. DeKnight,
Starring Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, John Boyega, Rinko Kikuchi
It’s been ten years since the breach in the Pacific Ocean was sealed through the heroic sacrifice by Idris Elba. in the first Pacific Rim. There have been no more attacks but that doesn’t mean that the defences have been lowered, they are still training pilots for the giant robots just in case, and the world is trying to move on. When Jake, the son of Idris in the first film, is caught in a home built robot he’s given one choice, become a pilot again or go to jail. But the pilots are soon to be replaced by drones as a tech company has figured out a way of having a single pilot join with AI to control the giant robots. Something sinister is in play though as a rogue robot moves into the field with an unknown agenda.
Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was one of my top films of that year; it was darkly comic, and the action between the monsters and the robots was just fantastic fun. When a sequel was announced, and at the start Del Toro was involved, I was happy, then he left, and naturally enough the worry set in. However, while there are some major problems with Uprising there are also some good points too.
First there are some returning faces in Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi which you need to sell to the audience that this isn’t just an attempt to carry on the franchise. Joining the cast are Scott Eastwood, John Boyega, and Cailee Spaeny as the new kids. Boyega stars as Jake the son of Idris who is doing everything he can not to carry on in the heroic footsteps that his father placed down. This is his driving force and at times it seems Boyega is carrying on from his character in the Star Wars films, the reluctant hero, but he does this so well that you don’t mind so much. Eastwood plays the Ranger who believes in the family of the military and is more like a disappointed sibling to Boyega than a friend. Eastwood can do these roles in his sleep, this offers no challenge to him, and again it actually works in this situation. Cailee Spaeny plays the young Giant Robot fan who builds her own robot and gets drafted into becoming a prospect for the new talent in the Jaeger program.
The giant robot versus giant robot fight scenes are, of course, epic and you can’t fault the computer graphics that overrun the film. It’s just that the heart of the film seems to be missing; the first film had that darkly comic timing and a heavy drama that was mixed into the blender which came out perfectly, at least for me, but in the sequel it just seems to be missing. I was happy though that the ten years of peace that the world has gone through on the lead up to this film was explained in a realistic fashion, in terms of how humanity would react. The characters are given just enough back stories to make them as real as they need to be for the audience to buy into the film. When the plot twists and the breaches are open the true plan of the other dimensional aliens is revealed, it’s not a shock, but at least it gives the film a boost. The last forty five minutes or so of the near two hour running time feels as though you’re ingesting a large pack of skittles and extra strength Red Bull within thirty seconds.
For me while it doesn’t have the heart of the first film there is enough here for me to want to see this in IMAX on release. The film is what The Transfomers films can’t manage to get right. When it’s robot versus robot you can at least tell them apart, which is a major problem of the Transformer films, and the creation of the monsters that come through the breach is at the very least interesting. Fans of the original, like myself, will walk away wondering where the problem is, but in the end you walk away happy that you’ve seen giant monsters, and giant robots, beating each other down, and really that’s what you go to this film for. It’s pure escapism and that is often the point of the cinema.