Pacific Rim: Uprising

This is a review I really don’t want to write. I’ve seen a lot of movies recently and I guess I’ve been spoiled by their quality. I can’t say enough good things about Black Panther — for the record, I was seriously worried about it touching off a lot of racist bullshit before I saw it the first time — and I’ve seen it 4.5 times (I was falling asleep the last time, after an entirely too long day, and left before I felt I was disrespecting the film) which I’ve never done before. I thought A Wrinkle in Time was great, especially for a film targeting preteens and children, and felt it had a lot of positive messages that kids really need today, especially girls. And hands down the most intriguing intellectual film I’ve seen in years was Annihilation.

So perhaps I was spoiled.

I went to Pacific Rim: Uprising with a lot of high hopes and little or no concern that it wouldn’t measure up. Let’s face it, as much as I love the original, it made no apologies for basically just being a monster movie meant to be fun. It didn’t try to force a romance in. The plot, while good and well considered, was there more or less as window dressing for the special effects showcase that was giant robots fighting giant monsters. There were tons of little details that were random and fun, and let us not forget cinematically amazing, but the whole fucking thing was done for fun.

I didn’t have fun in Uprising. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of attempts at bringing the fun, but many of them were entirely too reminiscent of the original. That’s not bad per se, but the movie came off as a copy or tribute to the original instead of a sequel. As elegy nevermore put it when I was talking to her about it, it was the kind of thing a fanboy or fangirl would do. They made an attempt to make Pacific Rim rather than the follow-up to it. I didn’t realize that Guillermo del Toro wasn’t involved (directly at least) in this sequel when I went in or while watching it, but I came away absolutely sure it wasn’t his film. It might be a world he created or at least first explored on the big screen but this was not his work and it showed.

Again, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad film, and there were some good things about it, but I came away disappointed. And angry.

I’m angry for one reason more than any other. Since I never give spoiler warnings or avoid them, I’m not going to start now. They under utilized and killed off Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi. Her only purpose in this film was to bridge the original cast to the new one, something that was done by the presences of Newton and Herman, but Mako should’ve had a larger role and her death was completely needless.

And where the fuck did Raleigh fuck off to? There was one mention of him in the film with no word on whether he was alive or dead, with the possible exception of a photo of him in the hall of dead heroes. (I’m not sure I saw him there but he may have been.) I’m guessing he was another casualty to bring about the new generation.

Pacific Rim: Uprising was a valiant attempt at capturing the magic of its predecessor, but it comes up short. It was missing the humorous characters like Hannibal Chau and Tendo Choi, the larger than life badass that was Stacker Pentecost, the determination of Raleigh Becket, and the heart of Mako Mori and Herc Hansen. What was left was a bunch of, frankly, kids trying to fill the void and share the screen with John Boyega playing a reluctant hero. John’s Jake Pentecost was good, but he reminded me all too much of Finn… Yeah, I know, same actor but the characters should be different, instead they felt almost like one and the same. I don’t know if John is to blame or the screenwriters, but that’s what it felt like to me.

If you’re a fan of the original, it might be worth seeing, but for me, I definitely will not be seeing this another 3.5 times in theater.