Soggy Popcorn: A Review of "Pacific Rim: Uprising"
Back in 2013, when Guillermo Del Toro released the first Pacific Rim, while we loved the idea of Kaijus, the film became yet another example of how more is less when it comes to Del Toro—the more budget you gave him, the less entertaining his films were, Crimson Peak being the other example. His excellent rebound last year with The Shape of Water was just proof positive of how, with less money, he creates more effective movie magic via story and characters.
While Del Toro is still involved with the Pacific Rim sequel Uprising as a producer, directing is Steven deKnight, and it is pretty much a rehash of giant robots battling giant monsters—jaegers versus kaijus; but with a far younger set of characters to hopefully, spark new interest in the franchise. And well, while elsewhere in the world, it’s been underperforming, the Manila audience apparently prefers it over Ready Player One. Having finally watched the film, I certainly don’t understand why.
As Jake Pentecost, John Boyega has to practically carry the film on his shoulders; unlike in the Star Wars franchise where he plays Finn alongside a host of other very central characters. But unfortunately, it isn’t enough to say Jake is the son of Stacker (Idris Elba) from the first film; and we are asked to invest a lot in a character who’s just running on fumes of roguish charm. I’d even give higher marks to scrappy waif Amara (Caily Spaeny) for gifting us with a portrayal that has more ‘meat’.
The set of pilot trainees are practically faceless and some acting lessons would have helped. This becomes apparent when some meet their end in battle, and we don’t even care, or recall which one had passed away. There should be a healthy balance between the action/fight sequences, and those where the human drama is being played out; but in this film, one is actually impatient for the battles, mind-numbing as they may be after a while.
It may be a lot of sound and fury onscreen; but if there is any organic uprising, it should come from moviegoers leaving their seats as the prospects of a third instalment is used to end this film. A film without much of a heart just doesn’t deserve a third outing.