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Pacific Rim: Uprising
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by alejandroariera

"All of the Robots and Monsters, None of the Fun"
1 stars

I think I owe Guillermo del Toro an apology after having seen "Pacific Rim: Uprising." Yes, Guillermo, I was way too harsh on my original review of "Pacific Rim." Yes, I found the dialogue in "Pacific Rim" goofy and dumb and I missed the lyrical touches of your best films. But, man, your film was still fun! Today, whenever I stumble upon it while flipping through channels at home, I can’t help but stop and watch it for at least ten minutes regardless of the scene I stumble into, whether it’s that glorious shot of the Jaeger dragging a cargo ship to later use it as baseball bat on one of your Lovecraftian Kaijus or that equally beautiful shot of the very young Mako Kori standing alone, in the debris-filled streets of her city, staring upwards at the Jaeger piloted by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). You may be the producer of "Pacific Rim: Uprising" but what director Steven S. De Knight (better known for his work on the Starz series "Spartacus") and his three co-writers –Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin– have done to your original vision is more than shameful.

"Pacific Rim: Uprising" is a dull, joyless, heartless, empty blockbuster. With "Pacific Rim," Guillermo del Toro threw a gauntlet which was picked up by fellow filmmakers Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla"), Nacho Vigalondo ("Colossal"), and Jordan Voigt-Roberts ("Kong: Skull Island,"a film I never get tired of watching). They all upped the ante in large scale destruction and added to their singular visions a dash of poetry and empathy. DeKnight and his team, on the other hand, have delivered the equivalent of Michael Bay-light with a slight dash of 9-11 destruction porn.

John Boyega (a.k.a. Finn from "Star Wars") stars as Jake Pentecost, son of the legendary Kaiju fighter, a former Jaeger pilot himself dedicated to a life of crime, scavenging old warehouses and installations in search of discarded technology he can sell to the highest bidder. “I am not my father,” Jake repeatedly insists throughout the movie but as soon as he utters those words you know that he doth protest too much and that he will emulate his father at some point in the film. Jake runs into trouble with the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC), the entity that now oversees the operation of these gigantic robots, when, after attempting to steal a highly priced thingamajig, is arrested alongside orphan Amara (newcomer Carlee Spaeny) who has illegally built a Jaeger of her own: Scrappier, Pacific Rim: Uprising’s answer to the Transformers’ Bumblebee without the charisma. Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Jake’s adopted sister now a high ranking PPDC official and one of a handful characters from the original film to make an appearance here, gives Jake one choice and one choice only to redeem himself and avoid imprisonment: to help train the young Cadets who will be piloting the PPDC’s robot force alongside old friend and rival Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).

These Cadets could actually be the last ones to pilot these jaegers since the Chinese conglomerate Shao Industries is now developing and is ready to launch a drone Jaeger program. But when the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the end of the Kaiju War is disrupted by a vicious attack from a rogue Jaeger, Obsidian Fury, it’s all hands on deck as Jake and Nate try to find out who was behind the attack. All fingers point to Shao Industries but then the drones turn on the PPDC and on their corporate masters. And if Jake and Nate think they have their hands full helping the PPDC recover from the attack, wait until the drones liberate the Kaiju.

Also making a comeback from the first film is the no longer funny nor amusing duo of scientists Dr. Newton Gezzler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). Newton has sold his soul to the corporate devil by joining Shao Industries for reasons of his own (which are given away pretty quickly by the script). Gottlieb is still his bumbling old self, developing thruster capabilities for his robots while dealing with multiple crises at once. The chemistry that made this partnership one of the high points of the original "Pacific Rim" has turned into rubble. The stark contrast between the one scientist whose mind melded with that of a Kaiju and the scientist still committed to the human cause could have payed dividends dramatically but such considerations are thrown out of the window in DeKnight’s and company’s desire to pander to the Asian market that made the first film so financially successful.

But that’s what happens when a movie like "Pacific Rim: Uprising" crams so many characters into a plot-heavy story: it doesn’t know what to do with them. What could have turned into a futuristic version of "Top Gun"’s Maverick-Iceman rivalry is here turned into bro-like tit-for-tats between Jake and Nate about their good looks at their attraction towards mechanic Jules (the Puerto Rican actress Adria Arjona, here relegated to eye-rolls and one-liners). The diverse cast who plays the Cadets are given very little to do as well until they jump inside their robots. They just tick off one more box in the producers’ long list of things they need to secure international box-office domination.

I don’t expect Shakespeare-like sophistication when it comes to blockbusters like this. But we should at least care for these characters. Idris Elba’s rousing speech in the first "Pacific Rim" may have sounded sophomoric, but he invested his character with such emotion and empathy that not only did we buy that speech hook, line and sinker but felt the loss when he makes the ultimate sacrifice. And each and every one of the characters in "Kong: Skull Island" possessed a distinctive characteristic, a quality, that made us care for them. Here, the rush to get to the next big, loud, mano a mano overwhelms the need to deliver relatable characters.

Now, I could forgive all these faults if the action sequences were at least memorable or, at least, if they revived those childlike memories of pretending to be Godzilla, Ultraman or Mazinger Z in our bedrooms and school yards. These sequences are slick, no doubt, and they do possess a certain “wouldn’t it look cool if?” élan (especially the sequences in Siberia). There are indeed some inventive notions here, especially during the climactic battle on Tokyo. But there was a joy to Del Toro’s staging of these gladiatorial matches, even when most of them took place on rainy nights and undersea; that is also the case of Kong’s battles with helicopters and other critters in Kong: Skull Island, a film that I truly believe more than met Guillermo’s challenge by raising the bar. I never felt any of those emotions while watching "Pacific Rim: Uprising." The original "Pacific Rim" and "Kong: Skull Island" were made by artisans who love the movies, who love the sheer childlike thrill of sitting inside a theater, popcorn and soda in hand, to watch whatever magic may come out of that big screen in front of them. There is a sense of awe, of scale in those two films (and in "Colossal" and the Edwards’ "Godzilla") that is missing here.

And therein lies the rub. Travis Beacham may have created these characters and the world but it was his co-scriptwriter Guillermo del Toro who gave it that sense of wonder and scale. What we have in "Pacific Rim: Uprising" is another movie made by a committee, one that seems particularly keen in wiping out Guillermo’s fingerprints (in fact, his name is hardly brought up in the film’s production notes). "Pacific Rim: Uprising" feels like a course correction for what may (or may not) turn into a franchise, one that eschews the personal touch for the immediate gratification of a video game.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27574&reviewer=434
originally posted: 03/22/18 15:18:54
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User Comments

5/10/19 PUMP UP THE JAM Why did you change the director? The whole film completely lost the power. 1 stars
5/07/18 Super Mario Brah This movie was hella fun. Haters gonna hate. 4 stars
4/17/18 MikeZ Great. Robots vs Monsters... Fun!! 5 stars
4/17/18 MikeZ Great. Robots vs Monsters... Fun!! 5 stars
4/17/18 MikeZ Great. Robots vs Monsters... well done! 5 stars
4/17/18 MikeZ Great. Robots vs Monsters... well done! 4 stars
4/01/18 the truth Crap. Made for ADHD-addled tweens who find GOJIRA boring. So, idiots. 1 stars
3/22/18 Tommy Ekblom A stunning masterpiece of special effects magnificence. 5 stars
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  23-Mar-2018 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Jun-2018


  DVD: 19-Jun-2018

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