It feels like summer movie season arrives earlier every year. A movie like Pacific Rim Uprising would have come out in July back in the day. But, with the blockbuster market getting more crowded, studios keep pushing these types of films early in the year.
This sequel has been 5 years in the making. The first Pacific Rim is one of my favourite sci-fi action movies of the 2010’s. It perfectly captured a Manga/cartoon vibe while still having likeable characters, and tons of amazing action. Guillermo del Toro is replaced by Steven S. DeKnight for director in his first feature, after helming TV shows like Daredevil, and Spartacus. What we have here is a very fun sequel that isn’t as clever or creative as the original, but still makes for a fun time at the movies.
John Boyega is the lead here, playing the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from the first film. He’s a likeable lead and the film’s best character. I was very annoyed, however, that Raleigh Beckett from the first film, only got a name drop, and never an explanation of what happened to him since the original! There are other returning cast members, but one in particular got shoved to the side quickly, which also annoyed me. Scott Eastwood makes for a fun straight man to Boyega, and a new young female character adds some energy to the mix.
The film’s main issue is that it lacks the creativity and excitement that del Toro brought to the original. The intricate suits for each Jaeger pilot are all now the same with only different colours. The film opens with a rather generic exposition dump, rather than the BADASS opening action scene of the first, and I was generally worried until about 15 minutes in when the film started to pick up. Also, the general design of the world lacks the “cool factor” of the first. DeKnight definitely is still getting his footing, but I feel he still did a commendable attempt. The Jaeger action was definitely fast and better than any Transformers film for your money. Definitely see this on an IMAX screen if you want the best experience.
The film does actually have a big surprise in it that I won’t spoil. I was shocked that it wasn’t revealed in marketing. There were a few shots of buggy CGI and green screen, but nothing major to complain about on the technical side. I do wish, that the theme song was used in a big epic moment rather than the scene it was used for. Still, it was great to hear it return.
Overall, if you are a big fan of the original movie, like me, you will enjoy yourself, even if the experience is a bit hollow. Still, with all the terrible movies attempting to build a universe like this, you could definitely do a lot worse than a fun, action-packed ride like this one.