Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Movie Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising

The sequel to the monsters fighting robots film goes for a formulaic plot that feels oversimplified and somewhat dull despite some stunning action sequences. The film begins with more voiceover narration catching viewers up on the last ten years of recovery after the events of the first film. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) has declined to follow in his father's footsteps and instead works ransacking old jaeger junkyards for parts. During one such mission, he escapes thugs and meets Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). Amara has built her own jaeger call Scrapper. It's much smaller than others and able to be piloted by one person. The authorities tracked jacked so the two salvagers go on the run in a decent little escape action scene that shows off Amara's pilot ability and Scrapper's rolling skills. The two fugitives are caught and imprisoned until Jake's older adopted sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) sends them to a military base.

Jake and Amara are greeted by Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) who has a history with Jake and leads the crew Amara will train with. Jaeger piloted by humans may be obsolete as Liwen Shao (Tian Jing) and her large corporation are developing drone piloted Jaegers with the help of Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day). As Amara struggles to fit in with her group, Jake is asked to pilot a Jaeger with Nate to oversee a test by the Shao corporation. Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) tries to ask for help on a new theory that the Kaiju blood could be used as fuel. The assessment in Sydney goes awry when a rogue Jaeger attacks and Jake is unable to save Mako, but Mako does leave a message that leads them to Siberia where they confront the rogue Jaeger only to find out that it is piloted by a Kaiju brain.

Geizler has continued to drift with a Kaiju brain and becomes the chief villain of the film as he has arranged for all the drones to help bring back the Kaiju. Three Kaiju make it through the rift before Shao is able to halt Geizler's plan. The Jaeger base was attacked but in a neat little montage, the characters build up four new ones for a final battle in Tokyo. The Kaiju are trying to make it to Mount Fuji where they will trigger the destruction of the world but the Jaegers head out to fight them off. I wasn't even sure this was going to be the final battle as there were only three Kaiju so I realized about halfway through the action that this would be it for this sequel that felt short. I'm almost haven't written enough words about this film yet so I'll come up with two more paragraphs.

The final fight does have some appealing moments as Geizler uses smaller Kaiju to build a giant Kaiju out of the dead bodies of the others. Most of the Jaegers are destroyed keeping with the usual battle in these two-movie series. Lambert is injured so Amara has to step in and help Jake out. They use Gottlieb's rocket fuel to launch into the air and fly back down just as Scrapper pulls them from the plummeting Jaeger and it smashes into the giant Kaiju saving the world from destruction. Geizler is still possessed by the Kaiju brain but Pentecost threatens Kaiju claiming that they be on the offensive in a possible sequel that I hope will be more interesting.

Pacific Rim: Uprising has some decent moments led by rising start John Boyega who is pretty funny and a great lead actor. Additional cast members are sort of hollow though Cailee Spaeny could improve if she continues to star in big roles while Scott Eastwood does not have the same talent as his father. The special effects would be stunning if this wasn't the case for every wannabe blockbuster that comes out around this time of year. I think Pacific Rim has done enough to push it to a trilogy but I wasn't totally sold on the first one and now this feels like a franchise that has outlasted its appeal. 

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