View from the Vault: Pacific Rim Uprising Review
What’s not to love about giant robots fighting? OK so Transformers isn’t a good example, but we’re talking Pacific Rim here! This is GeekVault’s movie review of Pacific Rim Uprising. Starting without spoilers. I was sceptical going into this after watching the trailer, which left me unsatisfied. I loved what Guillermo Del Toro had achieved in the first Pacific Rim, gritty but fun and believable giant robot versus monster action. The Uprising trailer however read like a big studio getting it’s grubby hands on a small profitable movie and twisting it into a blown up mediocre mess, as we have seen happen so often. I can tell you I was wrong.
My main worries from the trailer were as follows, why are they all children? Why is John Boyega a rich party playboy kid? Why are all the robots so shiny and indiscernible? How does this little girl have her own Jaeger? Most of my concerns were addressed directly by the film and made sense within the context, other worries just washed away when you fully embraced the cheesiness of giant robot vs. monster madness.
Spoiler Free Zone
The story goes… It has been ten years since the rift was closed. Jake Pentecost (Boyega) son of famed late ranger Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) gets reenlisted to the Jaeger Pilot program after getting caught in an illegal Jaeger with Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). They have to stick together to try and find their place in the programme, to become Jaeger pilots. Everything is knocked up a gear when the mysterious rogue Jaeger, Obsidian Fury, attacks. They have to figure out who this rogue Jaeger is and what they want. All whilst worrying about Shao Industries plans to replace pilots with drones. Featuring the return of favourite characters such as Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) Newt (Charlie Day) and Hermann (Burn Gorman).
Ultimately if you enjoyed the first Pacific Rim you will enjoy this one, it is by no means perfect, all movies have their flaws, but this one is a lot of fun. It feels different enough to be it’s own movie and yet still with the same character and heart of Del Toro’s original vision. The kid’s aren’t bad actors, they feel real, and John Boyega puts in a good leading performance, stretching his chops outside of Star Wars. Topped off with a coherent naturally progressive story and fun giant robot action. A good enjoyable family friendly movie, worth watching.
Alert! Spoilers! Alert!
OK so unless you’ve seen the film or don’t care for spoilers turn back now. You’ve been warned.
As I said before I had some fears watching the trailer and was frankly not all that interested to go see the movie. It took some convincing. I’m happy with how my concerns were resolved. They aren’t all kids, like I thought, Jake is immediately reinstated as a ranger alongside Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and the “kids” are just cadets now that the Jaeger programme is more of a police academy. They just happen to be a focal point of the story.
Also Jake was not some spoilt party kid, instead living in half of an abandoned mansion, trading and stealing goods to get by, amongst a Kaiju/Jaeger graveyard. The little girl, Amara, has built her adorable Jaeger, Scrapper, from junk that’s lying around or stolen. It is stated that there have been other homemade Jaeger’s and that they are illegal. She’s afraid, somewhat rightfully, the Kaiju will come back and, after losing her family in an attack, she wants to be prepared for when they do. It’s all understandable and works within the film.
The shiny new robots is something I still have a problem with, it wasn’t major and I still ended up loving Bracer Phoenix and Saber Athena, but it would have been nice to have seen more variation in design, like the first Pacific Rim. Using the Russian meme song was unnecessary. Not enough of the characters died unlike the first one, which gave a realistic edge. There was no real mention of what Raleigh (Hunnam) was doing now. Drift compatibility wasn’t as important anymore. No Ron Perlman! Unfortunately it does fall foul to the trope of “kids are the only ones left to save the day”. Also somehow only the base we had focused on was able to get any Jaegers functional to fight the Kaiju worldwide, it would have been nice for a couple other’s to drop in even to just be killed.
As I said not a perfect film.
My main issue is with Mako and her death. It felt unnecessary, she was a great character that I would have loved to see piloting a Jaeger once more. It does little more than to push Jake to stay in the programme. The real problem is the gravity sling. Right before she is crashing they initiate it, at which point I’m like “great, makes sense, that’s how they will catch her”. They just use it to throw cars at the rogue Obsidian Fury! Then jump to reach, and fail, to catch Mako’s falling helicopter. They don’t even try to use the gravity sling to save her! Other than that it’s all pretty good.
I’m glad they went with Del Toro’s original plan, to make Charlie Day’s character the villain after drifting with Kaiju brain, it was up in the air for a second there, but I was happy when they finally landed on it. Look it’s exactly what it says on the tin, giant robots fighting giant robots and even bigger monsters. There is no complex thought about it. It is cheesy. It is a megaton of fun. Just go with it.