Someone forgot about the Kaiju
Hey, Oscar! I have a really good idea for a Pacific Rim sequel. Now, bear with me for a second because FOR SOME REASON this is really hard for Universal//Legendary to wrap their minds around: in a universe dominated by giant robots fighting giant monsters....you ready for this idea? This is going to blow you away: why don't we make a film with a bunch of giant robots fighting a bunch of giant monsters? WHOA. I know, I'm a genius. Wait......you want to first make a Pacific Rim installment featuring a bunch of boring lore and bad character development, and exactly ONE giant action sequence? Are you sure that's what you want to do? Are you SURE? I guess so, because that's exactly what we have here, and it makes absolutely no sense to me. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Haven't we learned anything from the Alien franchise? You don't marginalize the best aspect of your world in a sci-fi movie! For some reason, there's exactly one giant action sequence in this film. That's inexcusable and completely mind-boggling! It's tough to look past this horrific miscalculation, but even if you do.....there's not much to keep anyone engrossed in the sequel to 2013's Pacific Rim.
For the record, I enjoyed the first film, but I do think it's a tad overrated. But at least in the original Pacific Rim we had a significant amount of giant action sequences featuring robots and monsters, which were, amazingly, the best part of that movie. I wish I had been in the writer's room as they were conjuring up the script for the sequel. Somebody should've done us all a great service and been in that room to say NO when the idea of having one giant action sequence in this two hour movie was pitched. And accepted! UGH.
So, what do we get instead? A lot of boring "world-building." The lore of this film is not very interesting, sadly. Early on there's a few good moments that I enjoyed, particularly around the introduction Amara, played well by relative newcommer Cailee Spaeny. She's a pretty awesome female protagonist that reminded me a lot of the badass Izabella from Transformers: The Last Knight. (I know, interesting analogy, but she was the best part of that film) But, unlike in Transformers, where the young actress Isabella Moner is uncomfortably objectified by some the men of the film because Michael Bay can't help himself, Amara is just.... there. Never once did someone remind her that she was a woman. Never once did someone hit on her in a really uncomfortable way. She was just the protagonist alongside Jake Pentecost. (John Boyega) I really appreciated that, and I hope we reach a point in film where all female characters (and characters of color, for that matter) are not type-casted for specific roles tailored to them. Instead, they're cast simply to play "the protagonist." So kudos to director Steven S. DeKnight and co. for writing Amara the way they did. Sadly, though, they couldn't break free of this trend completely, as one of the other three women in the film, Jules Reyes (Adria Arjona) is only there to be oogled at by the male leads. One day.... Anyway, I did also love John Boyega's performance. The dude is so charming and charismatic, and he tries as hard as he can (along with Cailee Spaeny) to carry this film. Hopefully he decides to pursue the action star route outside of Star Wars, because I would be VERY ok with that. The rest of the cast is whatever. There is a mildly interesting twist with one of the cast members, but otherwise they're pretty forgettable. Burn Gorman/Charlie Day are nowhere near as good together here as they were in the original, but I'm not too mad about that. Especially given the fact that I'm still mad at Charlie Day for enthusiastically showing up in I Love You, Daddy. STILL MAD AT YOU, MAN.
When we did FINALLY get to the giant monsters vs giant robots action sequence, I had a ball of a time. There's no denying that it's so much fun seeing a big budget action film with giant robots fighting giant monsters in a huge city. (Tokyo, in this case) At one point one of the robots (though I've already forgotten which because who cares) uses some gravity weapon to bring down skyscrapers on a Kaiju, and I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. We don't need those, right? And hey: they did give us a throwaway line about how the entire city of Tokyo was evacuated in like 5 seconds, which is absurd obviously but enough for me to just turn the brain off and have a good time watching all the destruction. (Looks at something like Batman V. Superman) But, in order to get to that awesome final sequence, you have to sit through what basically amounts to 90 minutes of dull dialogue and lazy lore. (That was coincidental, I swear.) Is it worth it? I say no. Wait until the final sequence hits YouTube in a few months, and just watch it there. Otherwise, don't bother with this garbage. Let the Asian markets carry it to a decent gross, and hopefully in the third installment the studios will realize that Alien-ing this franchise is NOT the way to go. Hard pass.
The Critique: Despite a thrilling final sequence and great performances from John Boyega and Cailee Spaeny, Pacific Rim: Uprising lands with a thud thanks to dull dialogue, lazy lore, and nowhere near enough giant robots fighting giant killer monsters.
The Recommendation: Check out the final action sequence on YouTube whenever it gets there, otherwise stay away.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average