The original Pacific Rim was an amusing action film that took itself a little too seriously, except when compared to the dull and overly dramatic Godzilla reboot. Pacific Rim: Uprising solves the original’s tonal issues while simultaneously causing a mosh pit of new problems in its wake.
Steven S. DeKnight takes over directing duties from Del Toro this time around. With this being his first film, let alone the director’s first blockbuster, DeKnight did a reasonable job with the final cut. From start to finish, the production is filled with a bright filmmaking style that really makes the film stand out as a sight for sore eyes. Beyond the visuals, DeKnight made the film visually kind of weird, yet captivating its audience by going a step farther than even the original film was willing to go. It doesn’t always come out superior over everything in the original though due to some odd character motivations, the lack of an interesting central focus character, and a few stereotypical sci-fi elements thrown in from time to time. These issues really cause the film to stumble over its own feet. If the film is seen with a less serious mental standing, DeKnight successfully made a really fun B-Movie that fans of the original idea should probably check out.
The plot suffers from a terrible pace for a majority of the film, while dragging on the preparation for attack rather than focusing on the big Kaiju fights. The film is painfully lacking in the Kaiju fight sequences, and instead focuses on an odd twist of character villainy instead of the original’s Kaiju fights. Pacific Rim: Uprising even went as far as to question who the main villain beings were in the film, which made it have an apparent dullness to this big budget action film. A cheap, unsatisfying story of a criminal forced to train a little girl into being a soldier - a man in love with a Kaiju who gets brainwashed into reviving the Kaiju race to destroy the world - Pacific Rim: Uprising feels exactly like what a Sci-Fi channel Big Budget Sequel to Pacific Rim would have been. Its incredibly dumb screenplay makes the film more fun, but at the same time forces it to become a pointless flick that focuses on soulless and expendable characters.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
There’s an odd stretch between the generic personality of the second in command, Scott Eastwood, and the excessive performance by Charlie Day. Not very often in films are there so many different components that happen to work, yet not work, when placed into particular scenarios. Many of the original side character cast reprise their roles in some aspect, yet some of the actors have unquestionable changes to the original characters. A few of the characters go out of their way to show the wackiest side of villainy, while on the opposite site of the cast their are plenty of generic, strict, soldier type characters that don’t allow any rebellious behavior without holding a grudge. The main focus of the film is Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from Pacific Rim and his relationship with a troubled little girl (Cailee Spaeny) who is picked up off the streets and then placed into a training program for future mech-soldiers. The issue is that Boyega and the little girl’s relationship feels absolutely fake other than one emotionally striking scene between the two. Boyega however, beyond this false relationship with Spaeny, gives a great performance that mysteriously outdoes any of the original’s main characters. Boyega is easily a more compelling character than the one played by Charlie Hunnam.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Pacific Rim: Uprising composer Lorne Balfe created a fascinating score for the Pacific Rim sequel. He capitalized on the original score, while adding in a little something extra from several different genres. While a track of the score will begin with a mesmerizing touch of what feels like an epic sci-fi mystery like Moon, it will wander the line between that and a score similar to that of the Transformers franchise. The score certainly gets the viewer pumped up for the action about to take place on screen and the build up, but the slight misdirections in where the score is headed hinders the final sound. Half of the score can be appreciated for telling a story all on its own, portraying the magic that can be composed by a brilliant composer. However, the other half simply feels forced, not fluent, and not reflective of the story that was originally trying to be told. The bits of lyrical music the film accommodated into the final product helped it at points, but the score is really what makes the film - yet it loses its way from time to time.
Visually speaking, this film is a bright visage that creates a much more B-movie style versus what the original delivered, due to its much more grim visual effects. The visuals are what really keeps the viewer captivated, with the setting being full of beautiful landscapes and setpieces. When the film gets to the fight scenes, they are all visually stunning sequences that clearly had a ton of thought placed into them and their designs. The visuals in Pacific Rim: Uprising are the films biggest saving grace and is ultimately what stayed with me after the credits rolled.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is a fun, yet occasionally tedious thrill ride that in some aspects surpasses the original— such as its superior main character and visuals. However, in other ways, this high budgeted B-Movie manages to strain itself with its drawn out plotline, lack of consequential action, and an overabundance of disposable side characters.