Do you love giant robots? How about huge slobbering monsters? Buildings being smashed to pieces? The world being saved? If you said yes to any of these, then Pacific Rim: Uprising is exactly the movie for you.
Director Steven S. DeKnight brings this muddled tale to the big screen with a lot of spectacle, but not a lot of substance. He’s working off a script with at least four credited screenwriters (including himself) and it has that “workshopped” feeling. That, unsurprisingly, hasn’t stopped some kaiju-sized holes appearing in the plot. Every bit of this film seems to have been through a dozen focus groups.
Uprising begins several years after the events of the original Pacific Rim. The world is recovering from the aftermath of the war with the kaiju (huge monsters that tried to rip the world apart), but some areas are still devastated. Young “scrapper” Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) manages to MacGyver her own Jaeger (giant robot) from spare parts. But her off-the-grid experiment brings her to the attention of the ultra-serious Pan Pacific Defence Corps. Amara manages to inveigle one-time PPDC pilot (now street hustler) Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) into her adventure. But when her home-built Jaeger comes to a crashing end, both Amara and Pentcost have to front stern PPDC honcho Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
As luck would have it, both are welcomed into the fold; Pentecost as a Jaeger pilot and Amara as a cadet. A new threat to the PPDC is emerging in the form of drones produced by a shadowy Chinese company. And when rogue Jaegers start wreaking havoc, everyone is on edge. But could it all have something to do with a new wave of kaiju?
While you probably don’t need to have seen Pacific Rim, I found it helped to make a little sense of Uprising. There is absolutely nothing subtle about this film. It’s big, loud and dumb – which, I suspect, is just how its fans will want it. To give DeKnight his due, it is spectacular at times. But its flashy visuals don’t compensate for the paper-thin plot or the truly atrocious dialogue.
John Boyega, fresh from another space-opera in Star Wars: The Last Jedi actually does a decent job with limited material as Pentecost. He even gets to use his natural British accent for once. Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious) however is pretty wooden as the square-jawed Lambert. Newcomer Cailee Spaeny doesn’t get much to work with as Amara. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman – reprising their roles from Pacific Rim – steal the show however. That particularly applies to Day, who brings a kind of delirious fun to his (pivotal) role as scientist Dr Newton Geizler.
As mindless popcorn entertainment goes, they don’t come much more mindless that Pacific Rim: Uprising. This a paint-by-numbers action movie that’s been done – better – a thousand times before. But if you’re after a bit of CGI overload coupled with a daft plot, then have at it.
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day
Release Date: 22 March 2018
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television