Movie Review: PACIFIC RIM UPRISING (2018)

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING, the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, is director Steven S. DeKnight feature film debut and is a worthy successor to its predecessor in terms of action, character development, and gigantic monsters and robots fighting. The film stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious), Cailee Spaeny (Counting to 1000), Burn Gorman (Pacific Rim), and Charlie Day (Pacific Rim).

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING centers around Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Stacker Pentecost, who sacrificed his life to win the war against the kaiju in the first film. Now ten years later, we meet Jake, who proudly proclaims that he is nothing like his father. During a heist that goes wrong, he meets Amara, a 15-year-old girl, and the two are sent to the Hong Kong Shatterdome where Jake is tasked in training the new jaeger recruits, including Amara. In the ten years that have passed since the first film, the company Shao Corporation has set into motion a drone program that will help wipe out the use of jaeger pilots. When a rogue attack befalls the nation, and a new bigger, and badder kaiju is awaken, it’ll be up to Jake and his team of recruits, including his former rival, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), to stop the kaiju before it destroys the world once and for all.

I’ll be honest, I was not the biggest fan of Pacific Rim when I first saw it. Granted, I watched it on a laptop during a train ride, so I didn’t get the full experience, but regardless I just wasn’t on board with the whole robots fighting monsters at the time. That seems to have all changed with PACIFIC RIM UPRISING because I absolutely loved this film! What I enjoyed most about this film is easily John Boyega, who was able to bring a mixture of heart and humor to his character. We are all familiar with Boyega due to the new Star Wars films, but his role in PACIFIC RIM UPRISINGreminded me a lot of his role first film role, Attack the Block (which if you haven’t seen that yet, you are doing yourself a huge disservice). I also appreciated that some of the characters from the first movie came back for the sequel, especially Burn Gorman and Charlie Day. As for newcomer Cailee Spaeny, I thought she was terrific in the film as we see her grow from a rebellious teen to someone tasked to help save the world. The only actor I thought was out of place was Scott Eastwood. I’m not sure if it was due to the writing or his acting, but I felt like his character fell flat against everyone else.

If you are going to see this film it’s most likely for the action and fight sequences between the jaeger robots and the kaiju monsters. Though there may not be as many fight sequences as the previous film, there is still a lot to enjoy in the sequel. The kaiju’s are just as ferocious and dangerous as you would expect, but nothing compares to when the mother of all kaiju’s appears. As for the jaegers themselves, we get to a see a slew of them equipped with all types of badassery. I don’t know if the CGI was better in this film as opposed to the first one, but I was on board with everything that was happening and all the special effects that accompanied it. My only caveat is I wish there was more focus on the kaiju, and maybe that’s because I love monsters, but they were just so damn cool! Sure, robots are neat and everything, but come on, giant monsters terrorizing a city, who doesn’t want that?

In regards to the storyline, I thought what the writers came up with was pretty solid. I’m not saying there weren’t moments within the story that could have been worked on, but overall the storyline was easy to follow and flowed together nicely. For those who haven’t seen the first movie I think there will be scenes that could potentially be confusing, but for the most part I found PACIFIC RIM UPRISING to be accessible to those who haven’t had the chance to watch the prequel.

Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of PACIFIC RIM UPRISING. It’s far from perfect but it’s entertaining and the fight scenes are action-packed. Sure, I would have loved to have seen more of the monsters get screen time, but I also enjoyed the character development, especially between Jake and his mentorship with Amara. I think fans of the original film will find PACIFIC RIM UPRISING to be a worthy addition to the franchise, and though it may not have the visionary touch that Guillermo del Toro gave to Pacific Rim, it still stands on it’s own quite well.

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING arrives in theaters everywhere March 23, 2018.

John Boyega as Jake Pentecost and Scott Eastwood as Nate Lambert | Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Shannon McGrew
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