FILM REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
BY KYLE ARANGO
Pacific Rim Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight and stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, and Charlie Day. It is the story about Jake Pentecost who leads a new group of Jaeger pilots against a new kaiju threat. This is the sequel to 2013’s Pacific Rim which was directed by Guillermo del Toro (Shape of Water) and sees an expansion of the franchise under Universal instead of Warner Bros. Could this film be better than the rather mediocre original? No, not at all. Pacific Rim Uprising makes Pacific Rim look like a masterpiece. I am blown away by just how awful this movie was.
To begin, here is the world the film is living in. There were giant monsters called Kaiju coming from the ocean that destroyed cities. To respond the humans built giant robots called Jaegers that were operated by two pilots. At the end of the first movie, they closed the breach and kept the kaiju from ever returning. There was no need for a sequel to this, but we got one. In Uprising, we now allow teenagers to young adults to pilot the jaegers for some reason. Why do they still feel the need to build more robots? Who knows? They were just there to drive the plot forward. What worked so well in the original Pacific Rim is that they made the world feel real and the stakes were high. I genuinely believed that if they did not get their mission done, the world was going to end. They were on their last breath. In Uprising, you don’t feel these stakes at all and all you do is watch buildings get destroyed by kids who have no idea what they’re doing.
First thing I want to do is address the one positive this movie has going for it and that is its star John Boyega. He got to just have fun in this film and his natural charisma kept me going for the rest of the movie. He would say exactly what was on my mind multiple times. He pointed out the obvious and just how ridiculous some things were. Was it improvised? I have no idea but if it was then I am 100% on board with him as an actor. He has a bright future ahead of him. The action was also fairly decent but nothing close to the original Pacific Rim. I’ll address that in the negatives.
Now let’s get to the negatives in Pacific Rim Uprising. The first issue I have is the tone of the film. It can’t decide if it wants to be a kid’s movie, a comedy, an action film, or a drama. The tonal shifts are so jarring that you quickly wonder who made these decisions. That brings me to the script. This script is terrible. The dialogue is so immature, and the delivery of the lines is just as bad. There was no coherent plot or setup for this movie, they just threw things together and hoped you’d seen the first one. They had something really interesting going from the first film and just settled for an awful Transformers knockoff.
Next up, I’d like to address the consistency between films. Pacific Rim Uprising picks and chooses what it wants to follow from the original. Where is Charlie Hunnam and Ron Pearlman’s characters? Apparently, it doesn’t matter. In Pacific Rim, these robots move very slow because they are such heavy things that it makes sense to throw a slow punch or walk everywhere. In Uprising, these things are running down streets and doing flips in the air. They act like Transformers. One can even turn into a ball and roll across buildings. Now let’s get to the acting and boy was it awful. Scott Eastwood was clearly typecast here as the pretty boy and he does nothing more with that. All the nameless teenage characters have nothing interesting about them and therefore the actors do nothing special with the characters. Again, these are young adults operating these killing machines. Then there is Charlie Day and my goodness he is something. He felt out of place in the first film, but here its on a whole new level. He has intercourse with a kaiju brain… that’s all you need to know. Some things can be so ridiculous that its good, that is not the case here.
At the end of it all, Pacific Rim Uprising is the first movie that actually made me angry so far in 2018. I am baffled that it went this bad. This movie had a good chance to top the original and instead it effectively killed the franchise quality wise and hurt everyone involved except John Boyega who will be fine with Star Wars. What could’ve been a successful action franchise is now gone. This movie was a dumpster fire and that’s a shame to say because I was really rooting for this one. I do not recommend Pacific Rim Uprising at all, save your money for something better.