Review: Pacific Rim Uprising

Steven S. DeKnight helms his first big studio picture with the $150m Pacific Rim Uprising. Retooled, regeared, and reupped to make good on the huge bank the original made in China, the sequel has a lot less going for it narratively and tries to make up for it with a visual effects bonanza and a very effective lead turn by John Boyega.

Truth be told I wasn’t a fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s original Pacific Rim, a soulless, noisy flagrant rip off of the far superior classic anime Evangelion: Neon Genesis. That $190m budgeted film disappointed in the major western territories, the U.S. did $100m when it should’ve been north of $200m, yet China, an at that time new market, smashed an $111m gross. This little box office nugget certainly informs the scripting and focus of its long awaited sequel.

It’s 10 years after the events of the original film, the Kaiju are gone and the rip in the dimensional wall sits calmly sealed at the bottom of the Pacific. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the long dead Stacker (Idris Elba), is an ex-Jaeger pilot and now junkyard scrap metal thief. When a botched theft sees him re-recruited in the Jaeger programme with reluctant recruit Amara (Cailee Spaeny), much to the derision of former Jaeger pilot and Sargeant Nate (Scott Eastwood), its not long before they are thrust into action.

A rival Chinese company, with far superior unmanned Jaegers, is in the game to take the market off the military. Sporting far superior tech worked from the hands of Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day), there’s also something more nefarious going on in the background.

There’s not much running under the bonnet of this effects vehicle suffice to say all the set pieces are shot in daylight and that John Boyega plays action hero leader does a fine job. Holdover players from the original hokily repatriate their roles but the hammily written dialogue brings most of it undone. Thankfully, the vfx bonanza (as Power Rangers as it is) comes at your with a much more energetic buzz that exceeds the original.

Undemanding, unintelligible, and silly, Pacific Rim Uprising isn’t out to be Citizen Kane, it’s out to blow shit up and be all gung ho about it. To that end, it succeeds!