Story by Andrew Nation / Contributing Writer
Simple. Fun. Destructive.
These are the words I would use to describe “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” What the movie lacks in a cognitive story or compelling characters, it makes up for in the Jaeger robots beating up on the Kaiju monsters. It’s a fun movie to see, because it allows you to turn your brain off for a little while. No, it’s not going to win any Academy Awards, but I would say it’s worth a theater ticket.
John Boyega, known as Finn from the recent “Star Wars” films, stars as the main character. His character, Jake Pentacost, can be boiled down as “prodigal son.” Throughout the movie you follow Pentacost and a ragtag group of teenage recruits training to be Jaeger pilots.
Focusing more on comedy than action, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is a lot more upbeat than its predecessor. However, as one would expect, the “giant robot fighting giant monster” movie is far from perfect: The teen recruits in the movie try as hard as they can to maintain any type of chemistry between themselves, but it comes off as forced and doesn’t leave any real impact when one of them dies.
The main recruit that the movie chooses to focus on, the newest and youngest member, Amara Namani, has a rushed older brother/younger sister relationship with Pentacost. The movie never takes the opportunity to ease into these two’s partnership. One moment Pentacost seems annoyed with Namani but the next it seems that they are inseparable.
As for comparing the general action between the first movie and the “Uprising,” I would call the latter lackluster. While still visually entertaining, the fights between the Jaegers and the Kaiju never seem as impactful as the first one. The first movie made sure to include big, dramatic moments revealing new powers that either Jaeger or Kaiju had, but in “Uprising” they kept throwing new elements at the audience faster than I could process it. I never had the opportunity to stop and think how fascinating something was because it became obsolete in its own universe as quickly as it had appeared.
Now for the story, again it’s nothing that would be considered Oscar-worthy. Points have to be taken away from “Uprising” for changing the rules of its own franchise. “Uprising” revealed that the Kaiju’s plans from the original movie were to throw themselves into Mount Fuji, a volcano in Japan. This would cause their highly explosive blood to set off the volcano, encasing the Earth in toxious gases and kill everything. Normally, that would be a fine story for this caliber of movie but, unfortunately, makes no sense when compared to the first one. The first movie only had one opening that the Kaijus could come out of but hardly any of them were making there way to Japan. Some went to Australia, the United States, even Antarctica. They were simply destroying as much as they could. For “Uprising” to take such an obvious misstep in order to have an end goal for the movie makes the whole story come off as cheap and lazy.
All in all, I can’t hate “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” It wasn’t phenomenal or thought-provoking, but at the end of the day, I didn’t buy a ticket to a movie that would make me think. I bought a ticket to a movie that was going to have giant robots beating up on giant monsters. And they gave me exactly what I paid for.
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