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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ lacks the soul of the original flick

‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ lacks the soul of the original flick

‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ lacks the soul of the original flick
March 28
23:15 2018

There is an air of disbelief required when you’re watching action-heavy monster movies like “Godzilla” or “Transformers.” The basis of what makes those movies appealing is solid action, believable effects and intense spectacle, not the story or mechanics of it.

You’re supposed to kind of just go with it, but there is still some level of responsibility on the director and screenwriter’s part to make sure it makes relative sense and is at least somewhat consistent.

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is the type of movie that should be able to rely on its spectacle, but it’s weighed down with spending too much time away from the action. The story is nonsense at its most pure form, delivered by some truly awful acting from the majority of the cast.

“Uprising” is a sequel to director Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 “Pacific Rim.” While the original was a bit goofy, casting the likes of the charismatic Charlie Day as a dorky scientist, Ron Pearlman as a gangster named Hannibal Chau (what?) and the endearing but ultimately miscast Charlie Hunnam as the lead protagonist, it was still believable.

“Uprising” maintains the goofiness of its predecessor, but it lacks any of what made the first film so unexpectedly good. The original had funny moments, but the stakes were real, the action was intense and the monsters were scary.

“Uprising” possesses none of these things, and its nearly two hour run time drags as it spends too much time outside of the action.

The movie follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who sacrificed himself at the end of the first movie. Boyega plays a man running from his responsibilities, hating the shadow he finds himself in as his father’s heroic deeds are frequently mentioned. Eventually Boyega’s Jake finds himself working for the same organization as his father, however, and he reluctantly joins up again.

The Yaeger initiative, a defense force in the form of massive robots, was created to defend the world from interdimensional alien monsters named Kaiju. Jake teams up with his old partner Ranger Lambert (Scott Eastwood) to train the next generation of teenage Yaeger pilots. After a bizarre and frankly dumb series of plot twists (even by action movie standard), only Pentecost, Lambert and their young recruits are free to pilot a few Yaegers.

It is well edited, the action is great and the effects are even better. The problem is the action comes far too rarely, and you don’t see a Yaeger fighting an actual Kaiju until the last 30 minutes.

What’s worse is because everything is so ludicrous outside of the action, there is no suspense of disbelief in it. The original movie saw pilots who trained for years, get killed by these deadly and cunning beasts, while “Uprising” tells you these kids who have trained for maybe a year can handle even more dangerous ones.

I hate to bring up the original so much, but when it establishes a formula and then the sequel breaks every rule involved, it all starts to feel unbelievable and inconsistent.

The kids who carry this movie through boring scene after boring scene are all horribly miscast and riddled with extremely shallow character development. Too many scenes feature them, and the movie does not benefit from it. Scott Eastwood, who has never been better than average in any role he’s played, is somehow worse than the kids. I don’t know whether to blame the delivery or the terrible script here.

Boyega and Charlie Day are the only two in the movie who pull off good performances, and even though Day’s character is so poorly written, they have a charisma the others don’t. 

This movie needs more than just bombastic action set pieces. The jokes don’t land, the conversations are horribly stilted and none of it is believable at any point. I don’t believe a bunch of kids from the Disney Channel would have any chance against the massive final creature, especially when the movie makes a point to tell the audience how much bigger it is than any before it.

For those wondering: Yes, “Uprising” saw heavy script rewrites after the movie was stuck in development hell in 2014. Out went Del Toro’s script and in went this piece of hot garbage. Its budget is $40 million less than the original, and that lack of confidence shows in every scene.

It’s a shame seeing such an unexpectedly cool property from a directorial mastermind see a sequel that is so mishandled like it is here because of studio interference. “Pacific Rim” is a property that should go down in history as one of the better monster movie franchises, so let’s hope the planned “Pacific Rim 3” can fix some of the damage “Uprising” has done.

My rating: 2/5

Featured image: Courtesy

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Zach Helms

Zach Helms

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