“Pacific Rim Uprising” is the next installment of the Pacific Rim franchise. The original “Pacific Rim” was directed by the now Academy recognized director Guillermo del Toro, however, Del Toro chose to pass the directing job to someone else this time around and stepped down to producer and boy does it show.
“Pacific Rim Uprising” feels like a jumbled mess. The first “Pacific Rim” had amazing action scenes, but these great action scenes came at the cost of a lackluster story and characters. One would think that a sequel would attempt to fix what was wrong with the last film, while trying to retain what fans loved about the first. “Uprising” does neither of those things, it manages to make every aspect of the first film worse.
Let’s start off with how “Uprising” handled its story. The film takes place 10 years after the war with the giant monsters known as “kaiju.” Humanity is in its recovery phase, but it is still training jaeger, giant robots, capable teenagers for an eventual return of the kaiju. The movie splits its focus between two characters, Jake Pentecost a washed up ex-con who happens to be the son of a famous war-hero from the first film played by John Boyega, and Amara Namani a young girl with tech-smart who was orphaned during a kaiju attack 10 years ago, portrayed by Cailee Spaeny. From Pentecost’s view we get insight on the adult’s perspective and how they’re veterans of the first kaiju war, meanwhile, we get a view into the lives of the teenage cadets training to pilot jaegers from Namani’s perspective.
The way the film splits its focus is one of my biggest dislikes of the movie. This movie can’t even make me care for one set of characters, why would I care about two. I feel like one of these sets of characters needed to be cut, and focus more on trying to expand the remaining set of characters. All of the supporting characters on Namani’s side of the story were terrible. Each of the eight characters got around two or three lines of dialogue to try and establish their characters and try to make you care for them and it ends up falling flat on its face. The characters on Boyega’s side were bad, too, but at least they did things for the first two acts of the film.
The story in “Uprising” feels like the writers loaded a bunch of plot points into a shotgun, shot it at the wall, and then just wrote the script based on what got embedded into the wall. There’s a love triangle involving Boyega, his rival, and some random girl, and then the random girl just disappears for half of the movie but shows up at the end to kiss both of them for some reason and then she disappears again…? Namani has a rivalry between another cadet that gets resolved off-screen. It also feels like a lot of key scenes were cut out because the movie was already about two-hours long.
It also feels like this entire movie, besides the action scenes, was sped up by around 10% like one of those YouTube videos that are very slightly sped up to try and avoid getting taken down for copyright reasons. There was also basically no down time at all between dialogue, and it felt like the actors were just trying to get their lines out as fast as they could so they could get their paycheck. For some unknown reason they also put the “trololo” meme from like five years ago into the movie, I think this was some kind of terrible attempt to try and be “cool, funny, and full of action scenes” like a Marvel film.
Speaking of action scenes, “Uprising” manages to fall far short of the bar that the first film set five years ago. I enjoyed a few moments of the action in the movie, but most of it was pretty boring, which I am really impressed that they managed to make giant robots fighting giant monsters boring. The jaegers don’t feel as epic as they did in the first film, in fact, they kind of stink and are constantly getting destroyed. Also, the jaeger pilots are letting hundreds, maybe thousands of civilians die in the process of getting beat up by the kaiju to the point that the collateral damage is astounding. There’s one scene in the film where civilians in Tokyo are getting stepped on by kaiju and falling into giant holes in the Earth, which then hard-cuts to a scene where a man says all civilians are safe. That man is a liar. It’s hard to root for the good guys when they are literally pulling down buildings and throwing them while they are probably full of civilians.
Overall, “Pacific Rim Uprising” simply feels like a jumbled mess, as stated before. It tried to expand its focus from being just an enjoyable action movie like the first, but it ended up spreading itself way too thin. I found myself enjoying a few moments during the action scenes, but those moments were few and far between. If you are a fan of the first film, you probably won’t like this sequel. If you haven’t seen the first film, just go watch it instead of this.