Tuesday 15 January 2019

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Title: Pacific Rim Uprising
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Released: 2018
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin, Charlie Day

Plot: Ten years after the events of the first film, society has begun to rebuild itself believing that the Kaiju threat has long been defeated. Jake (Boyega) the son of the now legendary Stacker Pentecost and now a disgraced former Jaeger pilot makes a living selling Jaeger parts on the black market only for a chance encounter with Jaeger enthusiast Amara (Spaeny) to see them both being drafted into the PPDC as the threat of the Precursors and their Kaiju creations threatens the world once more.

Review: Pacific Rim Uprising was unquestionably a film I was looking forward to, even if my general lack of desire to pay for overpriced cinema tickets has meant that it's taken me until now to actually watch it. Needless to say with Del Toro not returning for this sequel there was certainly an element of doubt if it could love up to his original love letter to the Kaiju genre and for the most part I feel that Steven S. DeKnight's follow up continues to build upon the world Del Toro had established. In the years which have passed the Pan Pacific Defence Corps have once more become recognised as the key defence and as such no longer the rag tag band of pilots scrabbling for resources through black market deals for Kaiju parts.

At the same time it should be noted that this is a much more busy and louder film as DeKnight revels in the chaos and destruction compared to the Del Toro pacifist approach which focused more on the battle between giant robot and monster than potential collateral damage. Now while both movies certainly provided the same buzz and excitement from these scenes I wanted as a life long Kaiju fan there is an unquestionable feeling that the DeKnight's is lacking something.

Plotwise there is a real mish-mash of ideas at play and while seeing the PPDC turned into a heavily funded war machine is a welcome evolution for the series even if one potentially set to be made obsolete by a new drone program. At the same time Jake the son of rousing speech maker and leader Stacker take on the hero duties this time as he finds himself drawn back into the fold as the Precursors launch their latest offensive which sees the film working more of the enemy within angle which ties it nicely to the original film aswell leading to a more meaty role for one of the few characters who make their return when their betrayal is inevitably revealed. The rest of the film though is this weird mix of Kaiju fun with an undeniable and unneeded and not mention unwanted Top Gun vibe as Jake and his former co-pilot Nate (Eastwood) play out a Maverick / Ice Man dick swinging contest which would have honestly worked better if they were rival pilots ultimately forced to team up than co-pilots from the start. Throw into the mix an unresolved love triangle and it just feels like it's padding out the run time.

One of my initial concerns regarded how both Jaegers and Kaiju were shown in the trailers, which honestly left things looking like a reskinned Transformers movie, here the camera work is just as impressive as the first film even if the action is alot more hectic than the lumbering intense battles of the first film. It's just a shame that the film suffers from some truly horrible sound design which only serves to cheapen and detract from the film as radio mics crackle and weapons would sound more impressive if you just made your won Pew Pew sounds. Thankfully the action sequences are still fun to look at with plenty of Jaeger tech being showcased here and sure while no one might be using a cargo ship as a makeshift bat the new set of Jaegers all come with their own fun toys to battle not only the Kaiju monsters this time but also the new drones which perhaps might feel alittle too close to the aforementioned transformers, but thankfully it’s given enough of a spin to work.

While Del Toro's absence is certainly noticeable here, it's still a fun (if flawed) experience that I enjoyed my time with, while DeKnight's own additions to the series like the mini Jaeger "Scrapper" and the rival Shao Corporation only help to make this a fuller and more exciting world which I hope that they continue to explore with further films.

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