PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
***½ out of five stars
The world that Academy-Award winning director Guillermo del Toro introduced audiences to five years ago returns for another battle between the robotic Jaegers and the monstrous Kaiju for the fate of the world.
It's 2030, a decade after the Battle of the Breach saw the closure of a portal between Earth and the world of the destructive Kaiju (Japanese for "giant animal"). Now, Jake Pentecost (played by John Boyega), an ex-Jaeger pilot and son of the late war hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) is roped into serving as an instructor for the next generation of Jaeger pilots.
But soon, disaster strikes as drone Jaegers manufactured by the Shao Corporation of Hong Kong wreak havoc. What is the problem with these drones, and could it have anything to do with a possible reemergence of the Kaiju? Jake, his former co-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), and the new recruits will have skills put to the test in this new battle of men, machines, and monsters.
Pacific Rim was one this reviewer's favorite movies that came out in 2013. Alas, del Toro serves only as a producer on its sequel, withdrawing his directing and co-writing duties. With this change in direction, as well as the abundance of giant monster films in recent years (several versions of Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and forthcoming video game-based Rampage), at least some of the magic and freshness from the original film have inevitably been lost.
Yet, while not quite as revolutionary as its predecessor, Uprising is still a worthwhile experience, both as an expansion on the first film's story, and as a Japanese monster movie-inspired sci-fi action movie.
The action scenes and special effects are well-designed and well-choreographed, setting a high bar for films of this genre. The story is engaging, and both the returning characters and newcomers are all given a chance to shine. There is one major problem with the film, in this reviewer's opinion. However, detailing it would spoil the movie. Let's just say that one returning character from the first film gets an unfair fate.
Despite lacking the freshness the first film had, Pacific Rim: Uprising is still recommended to fans of the original, and of giant monsters and robots in general. So, see it before your local theater has a Kaiju attack of their own.