Set ten years after the events of the first, Pacific Rim: Uprising is headed by a new cast. Jake Pentecost (played by John Boyega) is the son of Stacker Pentecost (played by Idris Elba in the first), he is different to his father and makes a living stealing Jaegers and living a party life. His exploration for new parts leads him to a workshop of a 15-year old named Amara Namani (played by Cailee Spaeny) who has created her own Jaeger – which is illegal. After getting caught in the Jaeger, they are enrolled in the PPDC, with it becoming clear that Jake was one of the best and dropped out due to the pressure of his father’s legacy. After his adopted sister General Mako (reprised by Rinko Kikuchi) tells him to train the students (something Amara has become), he must return to everything he left behind – his friends, his fathers legacy and his own fears. Pacific Rim: Uprising is an OK film, I give it a 5.5 out of 10 or a C.
Pacific Rim had so much significance in 2013. It was a film that was surrounded by hype, at the centre of that hype was Guillermo del Toro, when the film came out there was so much said about it, the amazing graphics, the amazing visionary perspective of the director and an amazing cast all this would make Pacific Rim as relevant and as important as Avatar was in 2009. But, it really wasn’t, yeah sure – a good film (only if we don’t include that stupid sword twist), but that was mainly because it’s giant robots killing giant monsters and one hell of an Idris Elba speech. So, the sequel felt unneeded, especially considering the main hype for the first was off winning an Academy Award for making fish fall in love with women. The first was a new, fresh idea with cool looking graphics and special effects, but where could the sequel go. There was so many routes it could take, and it did a good job in securing John Boyega as its lead, as he is fantastic in the film (I don’t know whether it because he just plays himself in every role). But, the actual story and stakes, and pacing are just not there, almost feeling like it is a “little brother” to the main film.
I always start with what I liked about a film first, and the main thing is the main character – Jake. I really enjoyed John Boyega’s performance as Jake and his relationship with Nate and Amara, I really liked Amara as well and think she was given a really good arc that added to the film itself – with the sub-plot of there being student pilots, and that she had to train alongside them, I would’ve liked to have seen a training scene but that is mainly because I am a huge fan of them. I liked the little we really had of Nate (Scott Eastwood) but he was never given enough to make me a developed character with all his scenes serving to add to Jake’s character. The tie-ins to the first were good, whilst I didn’t think their development was good enough, I did like the return of Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, but choosing to make Day the villain just felt weak. Furthermore, considering it was five years ago, I don’t really remember much and only remembered the how they captured a Kaiju when I saw the Kaiju in his container in the film.
Onto what I didn’t really like, and that is just the feel of the film, it feels as I said like a “little brother”, not really that big nor important especially when you consider the size of the first. The story and pacing of the film was off, with it jumping straight into the Jaeger fighting Kaiju whilst also not really giving us much, choosing Charlie Day to be the villain wasn’t really that spectacular especially considering it is him standing on top of a roof for the entirety of the last act not really effecting much. Yes, whilst the Kajiu is in him, I think it should have been a different character we hadn’t seen before. Furthermore, I feel like there was so much that the film could’ve given us, whilst it did well in developing these relationships I would’ve liked to have seen more ties to the original, more on the training aspect, more between Jake and Nate, more on how Jake’s sisters death affected him. It just felt there was so much more to explore and so much more story to tell, I did quite like how the film tied into the first, in the sense it gave a reason the Kajiu were coming to earth but for them to go to a volcano and do something I can’t remember shows how stupid it was.
Whenever I think of the first, two things come to mind; the first is that sword, the second is the Idris Elba speech (above) – it was big, it was important, it was inspiring. Jake is given the same space to have a speech and whilst he does inspire, he is literally talking to six people, it doesn’t feel very “end of the world”, in the first Elba is talking to everyone, but Boyega is just talking to six people whilst the rest of the people in the base do something. And that is what I mean when I say stakes, I’ve already established it wasn’t the best of stories, but when compared to the first it just doesn’t feel the same. I didn’t love the first, but I liked the hype around it, something this never has, it is almost as if it doesn’t want to follow in its footsteps but it can’t work as a stand-alone.