Pacific Rim Uprising: Film Review

I didn’t care the slightest about Pacific Rim when it came out in 2013 – I didn’t even go to watch it in the cinema because giant monsters versus giant robots aren’t appealing to me whatsoever. I did eventually watch it on TV but I didn’t give it my full attention so I made sure to do that with its sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, which is just okay.

The film is set ten years later and stars John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba‘s character Stacker Pentecost, who died in the first movie. He is forced to rejoin the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being found inside an illegal Jaeger which has been built by Amara (Cailee Spaeny). They are both drafted in, with Amara being recruited as a Jaeger pilot and Jake as the rookies’ mentor alongside Nate (Scott Eastwood). They have to team up when a mysterious organisation mixes Kaiju parts with new Jaegers, which go rogue and reopen the Breach.

If you are not familiar with the original movie, it would serve you well to give it a rewatch or simply reread the plot online (like me) to get up to speed, although it is not absolutely essential. It is helpful to know the background of the returning characters such as Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and that two people have to “drift” to co-pilot a Jaeger and essentially become one mind.

The main issue with Pacific Rim Uprising is that it all feels a bit flat. Boyega tries hard to make it funny and seems to be trying to ad lib and produce more comedy, but these don’t work. There were a couple of moments that were genuinely funny but the obvious attempts were no good. There also wasn’t much in the way of emotion, so nothing to really connect to, and I couldn’t help but switch off shortly into battle sequences because they’re just a mindless CGI spectacle. I should be caring about who wins because ‘the fate of the world’ depends on it but I really don’t, I’m not invested in the slightest because it’s boring watching a fight between a giant monster and giant machine and the final face-off lasts quite some time.

Boyega does try hard to inject life into it but it isn’t enough because the script just isn’t very good and mostly filled with exposition and science gobbledygook. Eastwood may be good to look at but he is so dull in pretty much everything I see him in. There’s not much to his character at all. Day was barmy and massively over-the-top – he usually makes me laugh but not on this occasion. My favourites were newcomer Spaeny, she brings some emotion and attempts at depth to proceedings, as does Kikuchi. I also liked Jing Tian as businessman Liwen Shao, who is given a pretty decent and unexpected character arc.

This sequel will most likely please the fans of the first one because it is essentially more of the same. It just isn’t my thing at all – there is too much action and not enough character work so I just didn’t care. It has entertaining moments and some of the actors try really hard but it just fails to ignite.

In cinemas Friday 23rd March 

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