HOLLYWOOD—The first “Pacific Rim” flick which arrived in 2013 was met with timid results. I don’t think it was a bad film, but it was slightly different than what audiences expected. On top of that it wasn’t some groundbreaking sci-fi adventure that was delivering something to audiences we had seen before. Well, I guess you can argue it was with robots (but I’d harken that back to “Transformers”) and when it comes to monsters (I immediately think of “King Kong” or “Godzilla” movies).
That movie’s moderate success has resulted in the sequel, “Pacific Rim Uprising” which sees Earth still at battle with the Kaiju. Yes, some of you might be asking why such foreign terminology? I can’t really give you the answer to that question, but the Kaiju are massive sea monsters that are a threat to the survival of the world. So who can stop them?
Enter the Jaegers, large robotic machines that are controlled by two pilots who share a mental link. Now that is the element of the sequel that I thoroughly enjoyed because it takes an idea and adds another element to the mix that opens the door for plenty of interesting turmoil to surface. We first have to address the bad news: Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba did not return for the sequel. However, we do have familiar faces in Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day who reprise their roles in the sequel as Mako Mori and Dr. Newt Geiszler. Day is perfect casting as a character that brings a bit of comic relief to the action-adventure and holds some ulterior motives, while Kikuchi brings a female level of empowerment to a franchise that lacks women in superior positions.
Taking on the lead role this time around is John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). This harkens back to my argument about the recent remake of “Tomb Raider” where a character traveling down a dark path is given an opportunity to change their life. Hence, Jake after being arrested and being touted by his sister Mako Mori that he either return to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps or he goes to jail. Hmm, that really shouldn’t be a difficult choice to make.
With Jake, we meet a former friend, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) who he has been estranged with. The former friends find themselves pushed to work together when they discover the Kaiju have a few tricks up their sleeve and the survival of humanity is at play. For an action film, “Pacific Rim Uprising” gives the spectator everything they want: high-octane action, visual effects that are mesmerizing for the eyes and over-the-top action sequences that will leave some speechless.
I think what works for “Pacific Rim Uprising” is that I KNOW none of this could possibly transpire and the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously in regards to that. This allows the viewer to detach from reality and immerse themselves into the narrative, while not unique is fun. The film which is written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight seems to make up for those mishaps that Guillermo del Toro faltered with on the first film: it’s a bit lighter in tone. That works for a film of this magnitude, especially sci-fi that so many people have trouble being entertained by. “Pacific Rim Uprising” is a worthy sequel, while not great gives the audience what it wants a fun time from start till finish, and that’s all you can ask for in a movie.