Monday, April 16, 2018

'Pacific Rim: Uprising' Movie Review: Silly, Boring Sequel To A Movie About Fighting Giant Robots And Monsters From Another Dimension

GUILLERMO DEL TORO just won a best director Oscar for the overrated “Shape of Water” and he now resurfaces as producer of “Pacific Rim: Uprising”, sequel to the 2013 original which he himself directed as a kickass homage to Japanese monster vs. robot flicks and TV shows like Gigantor, Godzilla and Mechagodzilla.

The silly sequel is set some 10 years after the first movie. The lead character is Jake Pentecost (John Boyega of “Star Wars”), son of Stacker Pentecost, a hotshot pilot and Kaiju fighter played by Idris Elba, who died in the original. As the world tries to rebuild after the attack of monsters from another dimension, Jake, an ex-pilot himself, goes rogue and now settles for scavenging discarded technology that he sells to the highest bidder.

His adopted sister, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) gives him a chance to redeem himself and recruits him to train some new pilots who will be manning their giant robot force called Jaeger against the deadly Kaiju. His unlikely partner is his former rival, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood, son of Clint.)



“I’m not my father!” Jake protests, but you know he’ll eventually be a hero like his late dad. The new cadets being trained might be the last ones to pilot the Jaegers since the Chinese company, Shao Industries, is developing a new program where the Jaegers will be piloted by remote control via drones.

The cast of the new cadets to be trained has a lot of Asians. The multi-racial casting is meant to cater to the huge Asian market where the first movie was a big blockbuster. Among them is the spunky teen tech genius, Amara (Carlee Spaeny), who’s earlier arrested for illegally building her own Jaeger.

During the 10th anniversary celebration of the end of the war against the Kaijus being held in Sydney, Australia, a rogue Jaeger stages a vicious attack on the populace. Soon the breach into the dimension where the Kaijus come from is reopened and more destruction follows.

The problem is that we don’t really invest in any of the characters. John Boyega lacks charisma and is not really leading man material like Chadwick Boseman or Michael B. Jourdan. His rivalry with co-pilot Scott Eastwood could have been as interesting as that of Cruise-Kilmer in “Top Gun” but here, it’s reduced to “patutsadahans” and their attraction for a mechanic, Jules (played by Puerto Rican actress Adria Arjona who’s given very little to do.)

The other characters are all one dimensional and not relatable, so any effort of the viewers to work up any interest in them simply fall flat. Add to that the badly developed storyline, including a subplot involving Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler, who turns out to be a mad scientist and the movie’s real villain.

The movie is the directorial debut on the big screen of Steven DeKnight, best known on TV for “Daredevil” and the violent “Spartacus” series on Starz channel. Here, he tries to liven things up with interminable battle sequences and a climax full of cacophonous clanging of metal against metal and boring special effects. If you have had enough of Michael Bay’s very loud “Transformers” franchise, skip this one.

The first “Pacific Rim” movie also bored us but this one is even more tedious to watch. Somehow, it’s hard to believe that a movie about giant robots fighting huge monsters showing large scale destruction can be this boring. No wonder it’s not doing well at the U.S. box office, just like the bland “Tomb Raider” reboot. But if destruction porn is your cup of tea, then you might just enjoy it.


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