Movie Review: ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Is A Better And Worse Sequel

The original ‘Pacific Rim’ seemed to get a pass from film critics as something more substantive than ‘Transformers’ simply because t was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. It helped that it was filled with interesting creature and robot designs. One action sequence was particularly inspired. The score was really cool. And there was a pretty epic speech from Idris Elba.

Yet, I distinctly remember being a bit disappointed by the fact that all the action scenes were in the dark and the story was pretty straight forward. However, my biggest gripe was the fact that Charlie Hunnam was the least compelling lead character I had seen in an action movie in some time. I’ve since seen him be wonderful in other movies, but his character and performance in ‘Pacific Rim’ was particularly poor.

The new ‘Pacific Room’ has plenty of it own problems, but luckily a good lead character is not one of them. John Boyega is about as charismatic as a leading man can be and he is wonderfully watchable in this film. Even though the script short changes his emotional development. He is also given a sidekick in this movie named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) that is equally worthy of our attention. The both of them together make a much more compelling team to watch than the leads in the previous film.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the script gives them everything they deserve to become the fully fledged individuals they should be. Boyega is given most of his character motivation in a poorly conceived recap of the previous film. This voiceover works as the opening for this sequel and in it we learn everything from the previous film, Boyega’s lineage to Idris Elba, and that he has decided to steal machine parts instead of follow in his fathers footsteps.

During one of his scavenges, he runs into another scavenger named Amara and they try to outrun a massive jaeger robot in a miniature jaeger that Amara built. They get caught, are forced to become jaeger pilots, and then the plot really begins. The rest of the story involves corrupted drones and a secret plan that the Kiaju monsters have come up with to take the world again. Which leads to a couple bad ass fights between two jaegers and a kick ass fight in Tokyo between the jaeger pilots and a super Kiaju monster. It’s all silly B movie fun with a massive budget and it’s a blast to watch it on the biggest screen you can.

The story is just so-so, the jokes only occasionally work, and their is basically no emotional connection to anything, but the characters are fun to watch and the big fight scenes are spectacular. Which is the biggest reason you come to a movie about robots fighting monsters anyway. So, while some of the originality and visual flair of the original (something a talented filmmaker like Del Toro brings to a project like this) is gone, the film makes up for it in ways the original dropped the ball. I can’t argue that this film is better than its predecessor, but there is a lot of fun to be had here.

Nathan Ligon

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