by Monica Hayes
Steven DeKnight’s Pacific Rim: Uprising is a promising sequel with amazing special effects that fell flat on its face like a punch from a Rock’em Sock’em robot with bad actor chemistry and a non-existent storyline.
Uprising takes place ten years after Staker Pentecost (Iris Elba) sacrificed himself to close the breach and end the envision by the Precursors. His son, Jake (John Boyega) who was once a member of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC), is now living the high life as a scavenger in what used to be Puerto Rico and could care less what is going on in the world. Jake is particularly good at getting things that other scavengers can’t. Especially, parts of decommissioned Jaegers for those who want to build their own bootlegged version. While scavenging parts in a nearby jaeger graveyard, Jake crosses paths with Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a spunky, mouthy and intelligent young girl who is also there to get parts to finish building her own Jaeger.
The two are forced into a situation that puts them up against the PPDC for operating an unauthorized Jaeger and are arrested for it. Jake, who has been on the wrong side of the PPDC for a while, is given an ultimatum by his sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi): rejoin the PPDC and train recruits to pilot Jaegers or jail. Reluctantly, Jake returns to the PPDC to train the new recruits and to her surprise, Amara is now a new recruit. From here the story goes down a very predictable road. Jake is reunited with his old handshake partner, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and Amara, being the new kid on the block from the wrong side of the tracks, is met with some resentment and downright disrespect by fellow Cadet Viktoria (Ivanna Sakhno). *coughs Ender’s Game*
While everyone is getting reacquainted and despised, Shao Industries, led by Liewn Shao (Tuan Jing) has proposed the end of all piloted Jaegers with their drone program. The program’s technology is spearheaded by Newt (Charlie Day) who has become the top scientist in charge of bringing the Shao dream and her drones to fruition. Enter the twists and turns that will have you on the edge of your seat. Wait, I’m just kidding.
The acting was terrible. There isn’t any human depth that would make you care about any of the characters. Granted, it was a pleasure to see Boyega doing something other than trying to find Rae and running away from the First Order. He actually had somewhat of a bad boy persona in this film which was refreshing. Spaeny, in her first major role, did a good job at being that spunky kid from the slums who everyone thinks shouldn’t be in the PPDC. The real question this writer has, is how in the world does Scott Eastwood keep getting acting roles? Wait, don’t tell me, I know the answer to that. Yes, his acting has gotten better, but damn! He comes off as outsider kid who is trying to make friends with the other kids on the playground but fails. It was kind of painful to watch.
The action (when it finally got going) was good and the special effects were amazing. The one good thing about Uprising is that it is not as dark visually as the first. The fight scenes were well lit and you could actually see the entire Kaiju instead of just portions.
My previous review of Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was less than glorious. I compared it to a live action Gundam Warriors with Vulcan mind meld and Godzilla type monsters with a lot of dark backdrops. The first film was no big box office hit, but at least there was a storyline and plot that flowed well. The acting was somewhat believable and did not look forced. The scenes between Hunnam and Elba were believable. However, DeKnight’s Uprising is NOTHING like its predecessor.
Uprising is a campier hodgepodge of various movies intertwined into one. There are points in the movie where I thought I was watching Ender’s Game with brief moments of The Matrix and the Power Rangers. Hell, I thought Voltron would make an appearance but alas that didn’t happen.
Overall, if you go see this movie, you will be reclaiming your time. You have been warned.