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Pacific Rim: Uprising (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Pacific Rim: Uprising


Starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Max Zhang, Charlie Day, Karan Brar, Wesley Wong, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez, Rahart Adams, Levi Meaden, Dustin Clare, Chen Zitong, Yu Xiaowei, Qian Yongchen, Zeppelin Hamilton and Josh Stamberg.

Screenplay by Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin.

Directed by Steven S. DeKnight.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 111 minutes. Rated PG-13.

I didn’t see the original Pacific Rim and knew little to nothing of Pacific Rim: Uprising beyond the trailer. For audience members like me who are only entering the story in this sequel, the story starts with only a brief summary of past events.

Uprising takes place 10 years after the closure of “The Breach” in Earth’s Pacific seabed that allowed the alien Kaiju to enter and wreak havoc on our world. The Kaiju are monstrous and could only be taken down by the giant, dual human piloted, weaponized Jaeger’s. The world is recovering from the destruction of the Kaiju-Jaeger fight and people seem to have returned to survival of the fittest mentality while resuming their lives.

I braved the start of our late season snowpocalypse to see the preview (in IMAX!) and was surprisingly energized about the movie when I walked out of the theater. It was big, action-packed, unoriginal, but fun. It felt like a great movie to take a group of middle school-aged kids looking for a fun group movie night out. It was particularly fun in IMAX, with its big visual and sound effects.

I wanted to learn a little more about the back story and rented the original Pacific Rim. I realized from the start that it was a far better movie than its sequel. The aspects of Uprising that I most appreciated – particularly the humor and heart of its characters, story line, and slick editing allowing the audience to better understand this future world – were just done better in the first movie.

Jake Pentecost (played by John Boyega) feels a whole lot like young Captain Kirk, going out of his way to show that he is not his heroic father’s son. He is scrappy, self-assured, and funny from the start, rising up to be the hero that would make his father proud.

Early on, he meets up with young Amara Namani (played by Cailee Spaeny), separated from her family, she remains strong and resilient, bravely stepping into her heroine role. Her character feels a lot like Rey from The Force Awakens, and she quickly gains Jake’s attention with her Jaeger pilot abilities (and Jaeger re-building skills!)  The duo gets into a heap of trouble and they wind up avoiding jail time with service in the Jaeger Pilot program.

The Jaeger Pilot training center feels a whole lot like Starship Troopers, with its pretty, young trainees in co-ed barracks filled with hope and naïve courage. Kaiju attack scenes in Japan are manically filmed and edited, straight out of a Godzilla movie.

As seems to be par for the course, there is an odd, mad scientist/tech character, a megalomaniac corporate sponsor interested only in gaining glory and profit, and an emotional event that wakes up our hero and pushes him to his heroic best. Again, nothing new here, but the characters and story line are just weird enough to keep the movie entertaining.

Pacific Rim: Uprising feels like it is checking boxes on a Hollywood sci-fi movie checklist and seems like a mash up of so many sci-fi characters and plot lines that we’ve seen before.   Lucky for them, they mashed up movies that audiences love, so although it doesn’t feel fresh, at least it feels fun.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: March 22, 2018.

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