Tony's Take

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING review

Rise Up

It’s been 10 years since the War against the Kaiju ravaged the globe; the Pan Pacific Defense Corps continues to evolve and strengthen the Jaeger program.  Some cities still lay in ruins, littered-with the bones of the dead kaiju and destroyed buildings. Others are prospering and have been rebuilt bigger and better.  People are scouring the Earth for old Jaeger tech and equipment to construct their own, which are kept in highly-secured lots.  “Pacific Rim: Uprising” follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the late Stacker Pentecost and a former PPDC Ranger, who lives as a smuggler and thief profiting from those who seek the Jaeger tech.  After a situation goes awry, Jake discovers a young girl named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) who’s constructed a miniature Jaeger of her own; landing him right back with the PPDC.  Brought-in to serve as an instructor (and Amara as a recruit), Jake is reunited with his sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and an old friend Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).  Jake and Nate’s relationship makes it evident that their past ended on bad terms.  While ushering-in a new era of sentinel Jaegers, introduced by Shao Industries to be controlled from a safe, remote location, Jake and Nate are co-pilots once again.  While in-control of Gipsy Avenger at the Pan Pacific Summit, a rogue Jaeger attacks and badly-injures Gipsy Avenger and the whole PPDC is put on-alert.  As the sentinels are approved, a surprise turn of events leads-to the reopening of the Breach, causing three kaiju to enter the Earth.  With PPDC’s Jaegers mostly destroyed, Jake and Nate must turn to the recruits to stop these kaiju before they begin a mass extinction event.

When “Pacific Rim” was released back in 2013, Guillermo del Toro introduced us to a new World of Jaegers and Kaiju that, while the film as a whole may not have been universally loved, blew audiences away with the large-scale battles.  Newcomer director Steven S. DeKnight has taken full advantage of that as “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is chock-full of big, glamorous, beautifully-shot Jaeger action sequences.  Another big hit from the first film was the banter and relationship between Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day).  Not only do they pick-up right where they left off, but they play a much bigger role this time around as well.  The rest of the cast is led-by John Boyega, as he continues to prove that he is one of the top new leading men in Hollywood; his wit, charisma, and comedic timing are impeccable.  Spaeny and Eastwood assumed most of the secondary acting duties, both convincing in their own right, as well as Tian Jing.  The film does a good job of not handcuffing itself this time around, leaving room for new adventures if audiences want to see more.

However, there is strangely only 1 single mention of Raleigh Beckett from the first film, but it is left open-ended.  The film also features impressive CGI, as the Jaeger battle sequences and other action set pieces.  However, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” has its fair share of problems as well.  Firstly, the film takes a long time to get going, with the plot moving painfully slow until a big twist is unveiled about 40 minutes in.  While the first half is certainly underwhelming, the second does its best to make-up for it.  The film also takes an interesting turn that pushes the boundary of belief but, as the premise itself is unbelievable, manages to work in the story.  “Pacific Rim: Uprising” has a run time of 111 minutes, considerably shorter than the original, but it struggles to get off the ground early.  The film never tries to be more than what it was originally meant to be, bad-ass action and dumb, outrageous fun.  On this, I’m happy to say, it delivers on all fronts and fans of the original will be pleased to hear that their worst nightmares can be put to bed!

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” picks-up ten years after the War against the kaiju, with a new threat front-and-center and all hope is nearly lost.  The film features some great action sequences, some fun new characters, and excellent visual effects.  If you’re a fan of the original or excited to see some robot vs kaiju battles, go see “Pacific Rim: Uprising” this weekend!

 3/5

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language, in theaters MARCH 23RD!

 

 

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