We’ve seen prequels, sequels, adaptations, remakes, reboots – the list goes on. Have we ever seen a mash-up before? Pacific Rim Uprising could be it. I’ve never watched a movie and been so overwhelmed by how familiar yet different it feels, like it’s trying to be seven things at once and not nailing any of it.
Pacific Rim Uprising can best be described as Transformers meets Godzilla meets Power Rangers with a bit of Halo and Starship Troopers thrown in, with some Star Wars as the garnish and, oh my, can you believe it, they even channel some Independence Day too!
It’s a sci-fi action romp starring John Boyega who is probably the best thing about the movie, so our leading man at least commands the screen with the best Han Solo impersonation he can muster. He’s a maverick renegade living off the spoils of his father (Idris Alba)’s courage from the first film in which the father figure sacrificed himself to save the world from the vicious building-sized monster aliens Kaiju. Now the world is at peace and Jake (Boyega) lives in his father’s shadow – and is a thief, liar and cheat.
His behaviour draws the ire of his sister; Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) who is a high ranking military official now. The classic ultimatum is given to him: either return to the Army he abandoned or go to prison. Shockingly, he picks Option A and before we know it he’s back piloting Jaegers – the giant robots humans have made to fight the Kaiju and training the next generation of pilots before the next inevitable war, which comes around Act 3 of course.
What unfolds next is hard to describe, not because of a convoluted plot but moreso a dreadful sense of pacing in the edit that has us jumping through time and place, seemingly cutting crucial scenes for the sake of what was once probably a three hour run time. If you’re not paying attention you’ll get confused, which is not what one is after in a cheesy popcorn movie.
One thing I’ll give credit for is the unique setting and characters, all diverse and it’s not America saving the day. Even Sydney gets its own action scene! It’s not the first time we’ve seen an Aussie city get destroyed in a big budget movie but this time we get a full blown fight scene between two Jaegers. It was cool, but pure CGI – as is most of the film.
They’ve attempted to make this sequel not a direct rip of the first, which I admire, but in switching up the formula, what has resulted is a poor man’s Michael Bay movie. Am I surprised? Well no.
Pacific Rim Uprising lands where its predecessor did in the ‘mediocre but a spectacle’ range. Fashion without function – like a runway model wearing a traffic cone for a hat.
Dendy – home of quality cinema