Pacific Rim: Uprising

Year: 2018
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ is, unashamedly, a favourite of mine. Taking the craftsmanship and dedication of the man behind genuine classics like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and applying it to a giant monsters vs giant robots film just worked. Del Toro loves Japanese culture and their obsession with kaiju, and that comes across in every beautiful, neon splashed frame of ‘Pacific Rim’. You can imagine my, and the rest of the world’s, hesitation when a sequel was announced, but sadly Del Toro wouldn’t be in the director’s chair. That hesitation, as it happens, was not wrong.

‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ takes place 10 years after the events of the original. They cancelled the apocalypse and restored order to the world after closing the portal at the bottom of the ocean at the end of the first film. Jaegers are being built again, but with less need than previous given the lack of kaiju around the place. Corporations, though, are hell bent on making Jaegers AI-operated in order to be mass produced, eliminating the need for drift-compatible pilots. When a rogue Jaeger attacks a demonstration of this, it’s up to the John Boyega’s Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s Stacker, and the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps to find out who is behind the defected Jaeger.

Immediately, red flags begin to rear their heads. The allure of the first one was the kaiju and their immaculate designs. The second film near enough removes kaiju from the equation entirely. Monster vs robot action is replaced by robot vs robot action, ultimately moving the Pacific Rim franchise towards becoming a little too similar to ‘Transformers’. Thankfully, the robot vs robot action is frequently great and isn’t painful to look at like in ‘Transformers’. For all the problems ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ has, the action isn’t one of them.

One major change between the first and second film is, genuinely, the time of day. Where ‘Pacific Rim’ kept all the major action sequences at night, using neon to its advantage and allowing the colours on screen to truly dazzle the audience, ‘Uprising’ keeps all the action in the day. This was an intentional move by director DeKnight because of what Del Toro managed to achieve with his night-time sequences; DeKnight wanted to try something different. I fully respect that move from a novice director, a man who has largely been known for working on the ‘Daredevil’ Netflix series and ‘Spartacus’, making his directorial debut with a $150million film.

Where the action scenes falter compared to the original is in its weight. Every punch in ‘Pacific Rim’ had weight to it, you really felt like these were two giant beasts going at it and making huge amounts of damage to each other. In ‘Uprising’, while the action scenes are fun, they feel almost completely weightless. The punches and sword slashes don’t have the same impact as the original; the scale of the fights simply isn’t there. A stand-out shot from the first film is Gipsy Danger, carrying a tanker as a baseball bat, walking over the camera looking up from the ground, you saw these robots were literally the size of a skyscraper. In ‘Uprising’, it just felt a little like action figures going at it. That didn’t stop certain Jaegers making an impression (Saber Athena was my personal favourite of the new Jaegers), but the impact of the fight wasn’t as strong.

For a big action blockbuster, you don’t expect to see Oscar-worthy performances, and this remains true here. The acting is serviceable, but given the majority of the cast is young and new to the whole acting game, it isn’t surprising. Scott Eastwood, known for being an actor not understanding that ‘The Fate of the Furious’ is meant to be a fun film, continues to be entirely wooden on screen, lacking any sort of charisma you’d expect from a man who literally fights monsters for a living.

Fortunately, John Boyega is on hand to pick up the pieces left by Eastwood and charisma the hell out of us. Boyega, having won everyone over with his great performances as Finn in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’, is able to slip back into his natural accent for a change. Back to being a boy from East London for the first time since 2011’s terrific ‘Attack The Block’, Boyega is out there just having fun. His charm and humour elevates this film so much because he’s a man that everyone can root for given his outright cool demeanour. Everyone either wants him or wants to be him, and ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’, whatever you think of the film, is yet another example of his talent on his meteoric rise to stardom.

All told, I enjoyed ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’. The action was solid if unspectacular, it was visually impressive, and John Boyega sells the film with everything he has. I found the film fun and enjoyable, and when the action finally kicks in against the kaiju the film becomes even better in the final act. It’s just a shame it takes so long to get there.

Rhys’ Rating: 6.2/10

Kaiju Beware! The First ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Trailer Is Here!

“The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity in Pacific Rim Uprising.

John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stars as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous “Kaiju.” Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy by his estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi)—who is leading a brave new generation of pilots that have grown up in the shadow of war. As they seek justice for the fallen, their only hope is to unite together in a global uprising against the forces of extinction.

Jake is joined by gifted rival pilot Lambert (The Fate of the Furious’ Scott Eastwood) and 15-year-old Jaeger hacker Amara (newcomer Cailee Spaeny), as the heroes of the PPDC become the only family he has left. Rising up to become the most powerful defense force to ever walk the earth, they will set course for a spectacular all-new adventure on a towering scale.”

Directed By: Steven S. DeKnight
Cast: John Boyega, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, Burn Gorman, Scott Eastwood
Release Date: 18th May 2018


‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Release Date Pushed Back A Month

Once again the release date for Steven DeKnight’s ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ has been pushed back, meaning it will now release March 23rd 2018, the same day as Ava DuVernay’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and Lionsgate’s latest ‘Robin Hood’ film. It will also face tough competition from Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’, which opens the following week.

The sequel to Guillermo del Toro‘s 2013 hit stars John Boyega, Charlie Day, Scott Easrwood, Tian Jing, Burn Gorman, and Adria Arjona.

The official synopsis for the highly anticipated sequel is:

“2035 – THE JAEGER UPRISING – It’s been ten years since The Battle of the Breach and the oceans are still, but restless. Vindicated by the victory at the Breach, the Jaeger program has evolved into the most powerful global defense force in human history. The PPDC now calls upon the best and brightest to rise up and become the next generation of heroes. When the Kaiju threat returns, we will be ready.”

Charlie Hunnam Wants More From Pacific Rim Sequel

Charlie Hunnam will hit the big screen again this autumn in Guillermo del Toro’s Halloween horror ‘Crimson Peak’, but his attention was briefly stolen by another del Toro project – the ‘Pacific Rim’ sequel. Hunnam will reprise his role as jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket for ‘Pacific Rim 2’ and spoke this week of his desire for a focus on acting over visual effects.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ man said: “when it becomes very technical, those technical aspects create a rigidity to the process”. Continuing, “you have to find where your little place to fit into that process is, as opposed to the whole thing being about you”. Sounds like someone is in need of some attention. Here’s hoping del Toro listens to his actor’s wishes.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes