Back in 2013 I never had high hopes for a film like Pacific Rim, even if Guillermo Del Toro was at the helm. Unlike most who saw it, I still uphold that a film about giant Kaiju monsters and mecha’s (or Jaeger’s) fighting could have been better, it was still a pleasant surprise that managed to have a huge box office taking. So, what made it a success? Having Del Toro as director is almost a certain guarantee but I think it’s more than that. The first film felt ridiculous but ignited the coolness of having these epic sized fights. The Jaeger’s and Kaiju felt gigantic, so you could sense the scope of the action. Now we have a sequel where Del Toro has handed over the reign to Steven S. DeKnight, Charlie Hunnam is nowhere to be seen and is what would have happened to the first film if there was no personality to it.
Although we never get the feel for the size of what’s going on, the action is still up to the expected quality. Comparing this action to that of Transformers is a big injustice because the action of Pacific Rim Uprising feels more controlled. You don’t have explosions happening left, right and centre, you don’t have insane camera movements, it’s a much easier kind of action to follow, but I feel that the filmmakers were starting to explore this avenue which is a big no-no. The designs of the Jaegers are very impressive, it brings back memories of Neon Genesis Evangelion and other Japanese mecha anime which is a big part of why the first Pacific Rim had an appeal.
So, we’ve covered the action, but what about the characters in this action? Pacific Rim uprising doesn’t really give us new characters we care for and even the returning characters are botched (more on that later) however, in this seemingly carefree film, we go have a few bright sparks. I found myself wanting to know more about the character Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), it’s her fascination for Jaeger’s and bad-ass attitude that sells it, having the same kind of attitude towards the Jaeger’s the same way we as an audience should. Cailee gives a bouncy performance and is a potential future bright spark for film, even around seasoned actors she is a cut above the rest.
Speaking of which, the material that Pacific Rim Uprising brings leaves actors like John Boyega and Scott Eastwood surprisingly underperforming. I’ve been a believer in John Boyega’s talents ever since Attack the Block and I know he can do much better. His character of Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost from the first Pacific Rim, should be entertaining due to his vagabond type personality but at times comes across awkward. For instance, using his seemingly perfect physique as witty banter isn’t character building, it come across weird for the type of recklessness he presents early on. Returning characters are given the same awkward treatment with the worst offender being Charlie Day as Newton Geiszler, my god is this character annoying. In a feel that Steven S. DeKnight has re-examined, this character’s mannerisms are insufferable, he just isn’t funny, and the film wants to force us into thinking he is by cutting away from the big fights (which is what we want to see) to hear his cheers and one liners.
What about the story in-between? Well imagine pressing the skip scene button on your remote control, that’s how the narrative is cut together. Every time the film cuts to the next scene it always feels as thought you’ve skipped a bit. The basic plot I have no major issue with, but it’s the way that it is put together that makes the story more hurried. When I saw this happening, my first thought was the writers of Pacific Rim Uprising we’re in a hurry but blame also must go to editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey for the quality control of cutting one scene with another.
This urgency to get it over and done with can be seen by the film choosing to cut certain story arcs from the film entirely like the love triangle that Jake and Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) fall into over Jules (Adria Arjona), despite the interesting friction this could further between the two characters, it never gets resolved. You could argue that the filmmakers knew what the audience wanted to see, so why give our effort focusing on characters, but if you’ve set up emotional situations, you don’t suddenly give up and shrug different storylines off. You’ve got to see it through otherwise what’s the point including them at all?
It’s clear by the end that Hollywood is looking to turn Pacific Rim into a franchise, it was going to happen anyway I suppose, but Pacific Rim Uprising is an accurate showcase of what could be if it did, and it’s not a good future. If Pacific Rim is going to be a successful, gripping film series then one step must be taken, one majorly important step, get Del Toro back in the director’s seat. With his signature touch, style and attention to the little things, it gives the audience confidence to know that Pacific Rim is in secure hands. We cannot afford something as surprising as Pacific Rim to becoming a cash cow for Hollywood, they’ve tried it so many times already, more recently with the Kingsman films and look how that turned out. Pacific Rim Uprising is the future breaking into the present, let’s change it.
Final Result: 3/10 – Poor
Have you seen Pacific Rim Uprising? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Isle of Dogs