Aww yeah, son. This week is gonna get awesome.
If you haven’t guessed, I love PACIFIC RIM (2013). I think it’s one of the coolest and best looking giant robot versus giant monster beat ’em ups that I’ve ever seen. Don’t give me no bullshit about Transformers, del Toro shoves a stick up Bay’s ass and wipes the floor with him! It should be pointed out that this flick is actually not directed by del Toro this time around. He’s only producing. Still looks bad-ass, though.
The story looks like it takes place in decades in the future, following Idris Elba’s character’s son, and it’s about the humans just getting by and likely fighting each other. They only seem to unite when the Kaijus return, but they’re bigger now.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI , DETROIT , STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS , and the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE IX ), Scott Eastwood (F8 OF THE FURIOUS ), Cailee Spaeny (acting debut [congrats, miss], and upcoming films BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE  and BACKSEAT ), Charlie Day (FIST FIGHT  and VACATION ), and Tian Jing (KONG: SKULL ISLAND  and THE GREAT WALL ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing Steven S. DeKnight, known for 1 episode of DAREDEVIL (2015 – ongoing), 1 episode of DOLLHOUSE (2009 – 2010), and 3 episodes of ANGEL (1999 – 2004). DeKnight’s partners-in-pen, making for a red flag total of four writers are Emily Carmichael (short films and the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD 3 ), Kira Snyder (1 episode of THE HANDMAIDEN’S TALE [2017 – ongoing], 5 episodes of THE 100 [2014 – ongoing], and 1 episode of ALPHAS [2011 – 2012]), and T.S. Nowlin (Maze Runners THE DEATH CURE  and THE SCORCH TRIALS , and PHOENIX FORGOTTEN ). The composer is Lorne Balfe, known for HURRICANE HEIST (2018), LEGO BATMAN (2017), 13 HOURS (2016), and CAPTIVE (2015). The cinematographer is Dan Mindel, known for CLOVERFIELD PARADOX (2018), ZOOLANDER 2 (2016), AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014), and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006). Finally, making for a grand total of three editors, we have Dylan Highsmith (STAR TREK BEYOND , FURIOUS 7 , and FAST & FURIOUS 6 ), Josh Schaeffer (MOLLY’S GAME , 6 episodes of ENLISTED , 6 episodes of DON’T TRUST THE B— IN APARTMENT 23 [2012 – 2013], and the upcoming THE MANDELA EFFECT ), and Zach Staenberg (ENDER’S GAME , SPEED RACER , THE MATRIX , and POLICE ACADEMY ).
Overall… … … … … you bet your sweet ass that I’m war ready.
This is my honest opinion of: PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
Set ten years after the Breach was closed. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of the famed war hero Stacker Pentecost, is trying to make ends meet during this peace time by illegally stealing jaeger technology for profit. After attempting his latest venture, he is beaten to the target tech by a fifteen-year-old girl named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), who happens to have built her own small jaeger. Both caught by the authorities, Jake’s adopted older sister, General Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), helps break him and Amara out under the condition that she enters the jaeger program, and he returns to train the new recruits alongside his former co-pilot, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood). But things get complicated on the eve of the reveal of a series of drones, jaegers piloted remotely from a distance, are about to be unveiled to the world when a rogue jaeger attacks the ceremony.
Oh no… no no no… what the hell happened to my Pacific Rim movie? This was awful! See what happens when you relegate Guillermo del Toro to only a producing role?!
Look, obviously, I love the first film. It’s awesome and you get exactly what you’re looking for: giant robots beating the shit out of giant monsters, giving us a bad-ass, visually stunning, and thoroughly engaging sci-fi beat-’em-up. I can’t pretend that it’s a masterpiece, but it perfectly balanced the action with some fun and likable characters. This movie is a God-damned lie. All of the trailers indicate that we’ll get another robot on monster action flick, but they barely did. In fact, we don’t get a real titan-style action scene until maybe half an hour in! So what is this first half hour consisting of, you may ask? Stock footage for one. And then we’re following Jake, who is essentially a criminal who takes apart jaegers and sells them to the highest bidder, which seems to be anyone with Oreos and Sriracha. Um… what? And also, doesn’t this feel a little reverse-Rey? Lonesome traveler scrounging giant machinery to pawn off for food? It’s a little too FORCE AWAKENS in here, filmmakers! We then get a brief chase scene, culminating in another chase scene involving a small jaeger going toe-to-toe with a big jaeger.
This is already a little frustrating. First of all, I do not believe that this fifteen-year-old girl could simply BUILD her own jaeger. In the first film, it’s clear that the jaegers were built in factories. This makes sense. jaeger parts are massive, weigh a ton, hence some machinery to put them together and do some literal heavy lifting. But small jaegers prior to this movie have not been even referenced. Even if we can assume that small ones can be made, again, those are some heavy looking pieces and there’s no indication in her garage that she was equipped with making them. And even if I believed that she did build it, and we’re asking me to really stretch my imagination by that point, where in bloody hell would she learn about making them?! Okay, she’s a fangirl of jaegers and savants of all fields exist. Fair enough, but when her family was killed, I’m pretty sure it’s hinted that she’s an orphan. She was never adopted, never in a home, so where would she gather up the technological know-how to know every single bit and piece of a gigantic jaeger so intimately that she could know how to condense the size?! If I were to take a guess, the science is completely different, and even out-of-box-thinking scientists need to have some degree of education in their respective field in order to have a basis to think outside of. You can’t convince me that an F-52 is the same thing as a Boeing 737, just with smaller or fewer wires and sprockets.
Also, the Scrapper versus November Ajax chase scene feels incredibly… how should I put it… demeaning! jaegers were the pinnacle of cool in the first movie, both to the audience, and in-universe, beating the crap out of monsters that threaten humanity’s existence, saving the world on a daily basis. So why does this pint-sized Sonic the hedgehog, transformer-wannabe give Ajax such a hard time? Clearly the EMP cables it uses to disable Scrapper are non-lethal and don’t seem to hurt any living beings inside, and Scrapper is clearly an illegal machine, so why didn’t it just use the damn cables in the first place. Also, doesn’t it seem rather perverse that a jaeger is doing basic patrol more suited to local authorities? Someone show these damn jaegers some dignity, for God’s sake!
Oh, and remember my “transformers” comment? Yeah, this sequence gets a little too close to something that Michael Bay would do! The surprise giant robot on the run, busting through a building? That happened in the beginning of REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009). While Scrapper may not be turning into a car, or anything, it does “transform” into a ball in order to evade Ajax! And to make matters even worse, we have the Shia Labeouf trademark, “No no no no no no no!” Yes, a character actually does this during this sequence. I don’t remember who because I was dreading that somehow a Pacific Rim movie was having something in common with a Transformers movie, but the fact that I have to make that remark is a clear sign that this movie f**ked up on more than a few dozen levels. I hate to keep sucking the original’s dick, but I have to praise it again. PACIFIC RIM was supposed to be the movie that would sit good ole Michael Bay down and give him some notes on how to make a proper robot action movie. Why in blazes did the Pacific Rim wind up taking notes on Transformers?! This breaks my heart, movie. This really breaks my heart.
On top of all this, why is Jake the son of Stacker? Fine, if you want Boyega in your movie, then fine, have him be in your movie. But similar to the new Star Wars movie, not everyone needs to be related to previously established characters. In the first film, we’re never made privy to the idea that Stacker has a younger son. He’s never mentioned, or referenced in any way. As far as the audience is concerned, Mako is his only child. This is literally tacked on for familiarity and it’s not needed. Not to mention, he’s got daddy issues. This is neither fun, nor interesting. It’s forced. What’s wrong with Jake just being a regular dude who was a gifted recruit and comes back into the fold? It’s not as emotionally engaging as the filmmakers think.
But the ultimate bad thing this movie does within the first half hour to forty minutes… it’s BORING!!! That should not be a word I ever use to describe my Pacific Rim movie! For much of the early run time, we get a shit-load of talking, techno-babble, business propositions, outdated programs, and WHO CARES!?!? Throughout this run time, we haven’t gotten a single jaeger on kaiju fight scene and it’s painful!
I’m only rambling on about the first thirty to forty minutes of this hour and forty minute movie, people! And I ain’t done yet!
Even when we finally do get a decent action scene… it’s still not that exciting of an action scene! Our first supposed action scene, which is between Gypsy Avenger and the rogue Obsidian Fury, and I can barely remember what happens other than fists flying. Of course, that’s just the fight itself. I’ll get into what really pissed me off about this scene in the spoilers.
The movie even repeats from the first film for nearly no reason other than to have the throwback. Remember when Mako and Raleigh were drifting together for the first time and she lingers in her memory that Raleigh is trying to snap her out of? Yeah, that’s exactly what Jake does with Amara. She gets lost in her memory and he has to snap her out of it. None of this makes sense, which only now raises questions about the process of drifting. For one thing, are these hyper-realistic “stuck in the memory” moments only when drifting with another mind? If there’s anything that these movies indicate, it’s that they only happen when you drift for the first time in any machine, be it an actual jaeger, like with Mako and Raleigh, or a simulated one, like with Jake and Amara. But… doesn’t Amara have to sync in with Scrapper? Okay, fine, smaller jaeger, maybe the drifting process isn’t as intense. Fine, but hasn’t she been doing simulations already by this point in the story? We clearly see her in a simulated fight with another cadet. Wouldn’t one think that “drift training” would come into play here? Shouldn’t she be familiar with the whole “no latching on to memories” thing by now? What made the experience with Jake so different? I honestly don’t get it.
Seriously, f**k this movie for killing off Mako. She was arguably the best written character of the previous film and this movie gives her probably a grand total of ten minutes worth of screen time before cheaply killing her off in the first action scene. This movie couldn’t even get her into a jaeger and die fending off the kaiju-jaeger hybrids. No, she goes the way of Boba Fett from Star Wars and gets axed off like a bitch and that’s not how I want to describe my favorite character of the last movie dying, especially since she barely got to do anything as a general.
What the hell did they do to Newton (Charlie Day)?! By heavenly Jesus is he annoying in this movie! Look, if anyone told me that Day annoyed them in the first movie, fair enough, I can see that. He’s kind of like Chris Tucker in THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997), he’s either hilarious or painfully obnoxious to you. Day didn’t annoy me, per se, he’s an egg head amidst soldiers, so I can imagine him being a little squirrely, but he at least contributed to the plot and brought forth interesting in-universe ideas that seem radical, but effective in fighting against the kaiju, takes risks at potentially great personal cost to himself, and in retrospect, is the match that lights the plans that ultimately saves the world. He’s more or less a likable character and Day gives a pretty balanced performance of cowardly, but courageous. Here, he’s acting like wannabe Tony Stark if he was a teenager. He’s cold and dismissive of his friend Hermann (Burn Gorman), both to his face and away from it. And there’s just something about Day’s line-delivery that seems so smarmy that I really could stand him.
And seriously… Alice? Newton brought that damn thing into his house? Okay, I get what they were going for here. He was being corrupted, or possessed by the Precursors. They were taking over his mind and what not, controlling him to putting the kaiju secondary brains inside jaegers, which I’ll get to in a minute, I get all that. But wasn’t there a better way to go about this? When we see Newton, he doesn’t give off signs of possession, but rather obsession. Wouldn’t it be better if he had the same nightmares that Hermann was talking about and that while he’s been asleep, that when he’s been possessed easier by the Precursors, and over the course of ten years, it was just a matter of time before they took full control over his poisoned mind? Instead, we get Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” used in about the creepiest way possible, and it’s not fun or funny to watch, resulting in a villain that even the silliest of James Bond villains would make fun of.
Now let’s talk about the fight scenes here. I’ve already mentioned how the first fight between Gypsy and Obsidian was boring. The second encounter is better, merely for the change of scenery on a frozen lake or ocean, or whatever that was, resulting in the revelation that Obsidian was being controlled by a kaiju secondary brain. Already, I have questions about how the application of this works. Wouldn’t the jaeger’s insides have to completely overhauled to function with a kaiju’s brain? Something’s telling me it wouldn’t be so simple as “make the cockpit bigger to house the damn thing. That just seems way too easy. Also, did Shao (Jing Tian) know about the kaiju brains inside the drones? I find it hard to believe that this program, which seems to be Shao’s pride and joy, could be so easily corrupted as to have kaiju brains lodged in there. I mean, literally, couldn’t this problem be resolved by the simple factor of… opening them up and looking inside? She seems like the kind of person that would do that, so why didn’t she do that? Was it hubris? While I am seventy-five percent sure that Shao didn’t know about the brains, lets say I missed some dialog and she did and this was all part of the drone program. Actually, that would make a certain kind of sense, as the drones were the size of jaegers and they’re controlled by a single human pilot, so it would make sense that the brains would act as that secondary pilot. But anyway, let’s say Shao knew about this… what the f**k did she think was going to happen?! They’re kaiju brains! Complete unknowns! Utterly dangerous and downright stupid decision were made here! What happens when the kaijus return? Are they prepared if the kaijus are able to control the drones? It’s established that the kaijus are hive-minded! Did that ever occur to Shao and the builders? There’s probably a million reasons why this was bound to fail!
Finally… the jaeger-kaiju hybrids… no. Just… just no. Okay, fine, I can see how something like this could work, but not really in movie number two. In the mid-credit sequence, Jake says they’re going to take fight to the Precursors. Maybe when the jaegers are sent, they come back completely remodeled to benefit the Precursors as their new weapons that almost replace the actual kaijus. You know, something that they do themselves, rather than Charlie doing it all by himself in secret. Bullshit. And especially since they’re not even in the movie that long. In fact it’s only one scene and they get killed off by the end of it. Which, what wasted potential! All the drones opening rifts for the kaijus to come through and they’re simply stopped from the flip of a single switch? Way to Phantom Menace these new threats, movie! Also… 343 Industries, sue this movie, because the hybrids look exactly like the Elite aliens from the Halo video games.
So I guess this means the movie is utter crap, right? This has no redeeming value and you should just skip it, right? Eh… we’ll get to that, but there are a few things about the flick that I did like.
For one thing, I’m just going to say it… as much as I hate the first half hour and Jake’s backstory being a thief and black market dealer, Boyega is a better leading man than Charlie Hunnam. Don’t get me wrong, his performance is fine…ish, but his character feels overshadowed by the utter presence of Idris Elba and the more in-depth character of Mako. In fact, and this is likely more of a script-issue than Hunnam’s talent, Raleigh is kind of annoying. A lot of his action scene dialog is closer to video game quality than mature sci-fi by del Toro. “Come on, Mako! We can do this!” “Don’t give up! We got this!” Ugh, shut up, Raleigh! With the exception of his intro scenes, Jake doesn’t fall into this prat fall, or at least, not as intensely as Hunnam had. And to boot, Jake seems to have a more defined character. He’s sarcastic and kind of self-absorbed, what with lines like, “I can’t help it. I’m sexy.” But he’s got a good heart and quick to praise his friends, even if they’re not his biggest fans. He’s also a loving and caring brother toward Mako, who loves and cares for him in return. And despite how often he butts heads with Nate, the two are professional enough to work together when the need arises. He feels like a real person who goes through a bigger arch than Raleigh did. It also helps that Boyega is such a likable and charismatic guy that his performance easily captures your attention, making you laugh at his comedic timing, and pay attention to his drama. So I’m saying it, Jake is a better character than Raleigh was.
I do have to admit, as soon as the climax rolls around, that’s when I finally get the Pacific Rim movie that I wanted to see. The movie is finally back to its jaeger on kaiju fighting. There’s electric whips, hurling monster and robot through giant buildings. There’s cockpits where Cadet Viktoria (Ivanna Sakhno) mans and fires to cover the back of the jaeger. And I also have to admit, I see where a sequel can go with the application of Scrapper. Small jaegers can be useful for combat repairs and even modifications on big jaegers. They can likely carry extra ammunition, energy cells, even other personnel, like medics if a pilot gets injured in the jaegers, possibly even spare pilots to briefly get them out of combat or even to full-on resume battle. The application of small, one-maned jaegers does have an interesting set of potential
Smaller moments that got a smirk out of me was seeing Mako as a general. I admit, that’s pretty bad-ass for her. She was arguably the best written character in the first film, so to see her rise to such importance and have such sway in the current political structure is rather satisfying to see. Also, I admit to warming up to Amara later on in the movie. While I still don’t buy that she made her own small jaeger, I do enjoy seeing her be defiant and determined to be good at what she does. She’s not the best character in the flick by a long shot, nor is she my favorite, but I think she’s got potential to be a really fun character.
More on the positives of the small jaegers. The end sequence states that the humans are coming for the Precursors, implying we’ll be seeing more of the kaiju homeworld. Small jaegers can be a pretty solid addition as it’s not likely that the pilots would be able to return to Earth should the robots get too damaged. So bringing the small jaegers would give a distinct advantage in field repairs and pretty much everything that I stated above. Like I said, the potential is there. Now all we need is better writers at the helm.
Guys… this was a hard sit. I was utterly disappointed with this movie. The first film sure had its flaws, but it was still an entertaining film, perfectly balancing action that the audience wants to see and characters that have charm and gravity that we like to hang out with. This film fails at almost everything that made the first one awesome. Not only is it beyond pretentious that this movie thinks it’s good enough to warrant a sequel, but it thinks it’s so good that this will spark a cinematic universe. Because… EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE A F**KING CINEMATIC UNIVERSE THESE DAYS, but the filmmakers were even expressing interest in having this intersect with the MonsterVerse, IE, the likes of the recent King Kong and Godzilla films. WHAT?!?!? Screw that, guys! Leave that shit alone! Do these filmmakers have such little confidence and faith in their own property that it needs to be piggy-backed onto a different franchise? I think I’d rather just watch del Toro’s original film over and over. At least I get quality filmmaking out of him!
Ultimately, fans of the original will no doubt flock to see this movie, which is a shame because it’s going to make money and a sequel will be made with the exact same level of quality. As you can see, this movie is already manipulative and the studios behind it are only interested in profit and getting a slice of that shared-universe pie. Screw that, Pacific Rim should have been different and only with del Toro at the helm. If a cinematic universe was going to spring up here, then it should be what THE FANS want to see, not what studios want them to see. The sequel to the 2013 original should have been quality, proof to the fans that continuing this franchise is worth their time and attention. What we got instead was something that fit more into a Transformers universe rather than its own. The filmmakers and studio pompously assumed that their sequel was so great that it would be that springboard into something huge. Well guys, it was huge. The first film was gigantic, gorgeous, and 100 flavors of fun. But Scrapper is the perfect mascot for the intentions of the future of this franchise: a small, insignificant addition to a world that was fine as it was, rather than what it could be. I say, despite the very few good things that this movie has in it, it’s not worth seeing where this could go. If you’ve been on the fence, this is a hard pass. This is a rental at best, and even that’s being generous. Let them make their sequel, but I urge everyone to not see it. Demand better quality. Bring back del Toro, and if he doesn’t want to return, or otherwise can’t, then stop here. Let the franchise die here, or wait until they’ve made a worthy addition the awesomeness that was the original. Rise up against this film’s blatant manipulation and pretentious desires for a cinematic universe.
My honest rating for PACIFIC RIM UPRISING: a weak 3/5