Thursday, March 29, 2018

Movie Review: "Pacific Rim Uprising" (2018)

Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, makes a living stealing Jaeger parts from scrap yards and selling them on the black market. After being caught by the Pan Pacific Civil Defense Corp (PPCD), he is given an ultimatum by his sister Mako: he must either rejoin the PPCD or go to prison. Jake resumes his position as a Jaeger pilot and must help train a group of new recruits that may have to face off against any new threats should they arise.

We really liked the first "Pacific Rim" and enjoyed seeing giant robots facing off against big Kaiju in hand-to-hand combat interlaced with the imaginative visual stylings of Guillermo del Toro. "Pacific Rim Uprising," however, is not directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is directed by Steven S. DeKnight. This is his first time directing a feature film as all of his previous work has been for television shows like "DareDevil," "Spartacus," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." DeKnight also helped write the film with T.S. Nowlan (author of "The Maze Runner" series) and Kira Snyder and Emily Carmichael, who have only written television or short films. This sequel picks up several years after the events of the original. The Kaiju have not returned after they were killed off and many cities around the globe are thriving once again. The most notable exceptions are a few coastal communities, which have never recovered. These communities are populated by squatters, many of whom steal retired Jaeger parts and sell them on the black market. One of these squatters is Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of famed Jaeger pilot Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and brother of the legendary Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Jake is caught salvaging Jaeger parts by the Pan Pacific Civil Defense Corp (PPCD) and is given a choice by his sister, who is now a high ranking official: he can either rejoin the corp or go to jail for his crimes. Jake must now help an old rival named Nate (Scott Eastwood) train new recruits in case of another Kaiju threat.
LET'S! NAME! ROBOTS! (Image Source)
We were sort of looking forward to this movie but approached it with very tepid expectations. None of the trailers pulled us in, and quite honestly, we didn't think there needed to be a sequel at all. Sadly, "Pacific Rim Uprising" fails to reach our very low bar. We will say John Boyega has a good screen presence and offers the best performance he can with the material he is given. The visuals and CGI are super cool looking. The Jaegers and the Kaiju look awesome and have many new gadgets and bells and whistles, however unnecessary they may be. The final climactic battle is entertaining and is well constructed.
The camera is almost always tilted in this movie for no purpose whatsoever. (Image Source)
Beyond that, the story itself is awful. It's not that we expected a completely enthralling story with punchy Sorkin-esque dialogue, but we did at least hope to get a coherent narrative with a clear thread that runs through the whole thing. The acting outside of Boyega isn't good at all. When Scott Eastwood first appears, he is trying so desperately to play a hard-nosed badass, but his performance just comes off as forced and effortful. We don't believe him in this role for one second despite sharing his father's piercing, intimidating eyes. Also, what they have done with Burn Gorman and Charlie Day's characters in this second movie makes absolutely no sense. They have forsaken their core principles as characters. In fact, it's like every single plot point that was set up in the original is entirely abandoned in this new movie.
Image Source
The best phrase we can use to describe "Pacific Rim Uprising" is "mindless chaos." Some people will be pleased with the final product because all they want to see is cities getting wantonly destroyed by giant monsters beating up mecha robots. For us, that's all well and good, but when there are characters we don't give a shit about, a mystery that is extremely stupid, and a story that's an absolute clusterfuck on every conceivable level, said mayhem is just not enough. For the majority of the movie, we found ourselves bored. This is a useless sequel that is the cinematic equivalent of banging large spoons against a pot that you put on your head for just about 2 hours. It's clamorous noise with no life and no purpose. It's hard to say this sequel is a letdown since we didn't want it in the first place, but we love to be surprised when we go to the movies and we hoped that we would be wowed while watching this flick.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.0/10
RT Rating: ~45%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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