Skip to main content

Midvale Journal

Dan's Review: "Pacific Rim: Uprising" leans heavy on special effects, action

Mar 22, 2018 09:57PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Pacific Rim: Uprising - © 2018 Universal/Legendary.

Pacific Rim: Uprising (Universal)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.

Starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin, Karan Brar, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu, Shyrley Rodriguez, Levi Meaden, Rahart Adams, Zhu Zhu, Nick E. Tarabay.

Written by Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin, based on characters by Travis Beacham.

Directed by Travis Beacham.



If we are to believe the scenarios of a growing number of blockbuster films, we should begin to accept that giant robots are a thing of the future. Yeah, I know – the resources needed to build giant robots would never, ever be feasible by any stretch of economic reason or empirical science, but hey – have seen how cool they would be? Perhaps that’s the sentiment behind Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 film Pacific Rim, a movie about the use of giant Jaegers (robots) to defend the world from enormous Kaiju (monsters). Del Toro stepped back from the writer/director’s chair for the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, allowing others to take over the expansion of the giant robot world he created.   

When we last left the future world, Jaeger pilots had just closed the “breach” from which the Kaiju had been emerging, somewhere at the bottom of the sea, along the Pacific Rim. One hero, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) gave his life to close the breach, leaving a much safer world behind. Stacker’s son Jake (John Boyega) enjoys the spoils of the Kaiji-free world by dropping out of Jaeger pilot school and turning to a life of crime, scavenging and selling illegal Jaeger parts on the black market. When he and another scavenger, teen orphan Amara (Cailee Spaeny) are busted by authorities, they are given the chance to join the Jaeger pilot academy or go to jail. They choose the academy, led by Ranger Nate (Scott Eastwood), where they train for another Kaiju attack, even though everyone thinks they are gone for good. Meanwhile, Jake’s adopted sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi, reprising her role from the first film) suspects that there’s something sinister happening with Liwen Shao (Jin Tian) a major Chinese defense contractor developing drone Jaegers. Shao’s main tech support comes from Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) one of the heroes of the Kaiju war. During a drone demonstration, chaos ensues when the drone robots begin to develop Kaiju tendencies, attacking the Jaeger base and killing innocents. With their base and academy nearly destroyed, Jake, Nate and a rag-tag group of multinational youth must salvage what they can of their Jaegers and mount a last-ditch attack on the new Kaiju before they open an even larger breach from the top of Mount Fuji and usher in the end of the world.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is an action-packed, larger than life thrill ride, albeit more than a little ridiculous in terms of plausibility. Director Travis Beacham (who also contributed as a writer for the first film) doesn’t go “full Michael Bay” here, but he’s got plenty of “save the planet” heroism to go around, although with less slow-motion hero sauntering toward the camera. Some of the off-kilter and quirky characters we loved in the first film are brushed aside (one of them possessed by the Kaiju in this round) in place of bigger, more spectacular special effects-driven super battles between the robots and monsters than before. Sure, there’s a little more depth going on here than your basic 1960s Godzilla vs. (blank) movies, but it’s not a cinematic masterpiece, either. It's certainly missing del Toro's imagination, while living in del Toro's world.

It should be noted that Boyega's charm and performance is noteworthy among a cast of otherwise forgettable characters.

So, if you can excuse the presence of a crafty plot, clever dialogue and the absence of scientific credibility, Pacific Rim: Uprising is just the ticket. Otherwise it’s just a lot of giant robots fighting monsters.

Pacific Rim: Uprising Trailer