I like Steven S. DeKnight as a creative force, Spartacus is one of my favourite TV shows of all time; I enjoyed the first Pacific Rim for what it was, a self aware excuse to put giant robots and giant monsters onto the big screen, it was stupid and had bits here and there that were straight up garbage but almost in a deliberate, fun way. For that, I was looking forward to Pacific Rim: Uprising, the trailers didn’t promise the same style or sense of scale as the first but seemed to showcase some new ideas and still maintained a sense of dumb fun; which is what I wanted. So is Pacific Rim 2 a good film? That’s honestly a tough question to answer.
Set ten years after the events of the first film, Idris Elba’s character’s son, played by John Boyega, is determined to deface his father’s heroic legacy and live a life of care free partying, stealing old jaeger parts and generally getting into trouble. One day, a misadventure lands him in police custody and he is offered a choice by a familiar face from the first movie, go to prison or join the jaeger program for new recruits in case the kaiju ever want to make a return; which of course they do, this is a Pacific Rim movie!
There are things I like about this movie and things I don’t, along with a bunch of other stuff I have no idea how to feel about. The Pacific Rim movies do not have depth or subtext on their minds and neither should they, the steam they run on is the concept: big robots fight big monsters, boom! This film doesn’t make the mistake of trying to be about some kind of real world issue and forget what it should be (if you’ll forgive the smack of my own pretentiousness there: “ooh, that’s not how the film should be, ooh”) it knows its audience and has a good grip on why it could have an excuse to exist.
The CGI is ok, not as good as the first but it’s fine, the sets are pretty good, the designs of things are interesting, the action scenes are cool and fun to watch; the image of a jaeger upper cutting another jaeger causing it to scrape up a building before gravity does what it would do with something that size and weight is a very satisfying spectacle. That’s what the film has going for it the most, instances of cool looking stuff that appeals to one’s child at heart, the new jaeger weapons, the image of three Kaiju’s channelling Devastator and combining into one even bigger beast; is offering up childhood dreams which is all good and fine.
Unfortunately, the action scenes are surprisingly few and far between, it’s actually quite a while before the kaiju show up so we’re left to fend for ourselves with the characters – in a big dumb action film that sets out to be dumb, we’re expected to care about the characters; always a good sign. John Boyega is a likeable enough screen presence and propels his character out of annoying territory and makes him tolerable but that’s about the extent of that, Scott Eastwood has nothing to him, this girl who teams up with Boyega is a little irritating with all of her wide eyed “aww-ing” at all of her surroundings and they try something with Charlie Day’s character which makes sense in theory and I want to like it but I’m not really sure it worked as well as it should have.
A character from the first film is killed off way too quickly and without much of a lasting impact, the whole ten year gap thing doesn’t make much sense regarding another character’s age and one can’t shake the feeling of discomfort when it becomes clear the jaegers are causing more damage than the kaiju’s. If I’m giving this film a 5, it’s because the bad stuff didn’t really annoy me that much, it all just stuck out enough for me to notice, like how the cinematography is rather bland and uninteresting when we follow the humans but becomes footage from a whole different movie when the big boys kick into gear, hardly a problem big enough to dwarf the super kaiju but noticeable enough to take into account.
I get what the film is going for by trying its hand at comedy relief, being aware of what it is and all, but the jokes never really got more than a slight chuckle from me sometimes and other times just fell flat on it’s face which is a shame, a film like this could do with a sense of humour; just a good one. So those are my thoughts, when the action happens it’s fun and entertaining to a certain extent but when it isn’t being big and action-y it’s rather stale, over-edited without grace or style and without much point to care, though this didn’t tick me off as much as some other films like Transformers and whatnot; I admired the effort.
I think kids will love it and they’re really the ones it’s meant for, not some jaded 20-something who thinks a real kaiju invasion would be just the kick in the arse the world deserves at the moment if it doesn’t buck up its ideas. The film isn’t bad; it has bits and pieces I liked but also a lot of not so good bits that were disappointing, would I watch it again? Maybe, I dunno, we’ll see, but for now; go enter at your own risk and see for yourself.