Director: Steven S DeKnight
Writer: Steven S DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin, Travis Beach
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day
Hold the press. I’m going to put it out there. Despite what the critics are saying (and let’s face it, none of us have really been able to trust them since their initial panning of The Dark Knight (2008) a decade ago), Pacific Rim: Uprising is great fun, and a good movie!
Now, like the other films I have reviewed thus far, Pacific Rim: Uprising is never going to win an Oscar. In fact, it’s probably the kind of film that will make most critics want to give up and evaluate why they have dedicated so much of their lives to an industry that can allow it to exist! And yet, it’s exactly the kind of ‘switch off and enjoy’ excitement that audiences crave post awards season.
I, personally, have a strange relationship with this emerging Hollywood franchise – never really wanting to bother with it, but continually being surprised by the experience it provides. Indeed, back in 2013, having seen the trailer, it took bribery from a family member (the promise of a free ticket and a free drink – in hindsight, I could have probably haggled for more) to convince me that Pacific Rim was worth taking time out of my university summer holidays to see it. The idea of giant robots fighting giant monsters just didn’t resonate with me, and it looked ‘plastic’ and tacky. By the time I had departed the cinema however, I had been overwhelmingly won over. While by no means perfect, Pacific Rim had been action packed, inventive and, quite frankly, exciting.
Jump forward five years and I had still not learned my lesson. Rather than remember the enjoyment the first instalment had given me, I approached Pacific Rim: Uprising with a serious lack of enthusiasm once again. Indeed, if it had not been for that same family member, I would not have dedicated another two hours of my life to the ‘war against the Kaiju’.
Thankfully, John Boyega (replacing Charlie Hunnam in the main protagonist role, and also making his debut as a producer) and company knock the ball out of the park in this sequel. Expectedly, the monsters and the robots are both bigger, better and shinier than ever. Yet, it doesn’t come at the expense of the narrative. In fact, the decision to flip the ‘breakthrough moment’ of the original and make it the source of the chaos this time around opens up all sorts of inventive possibilities, while providing a firm platform to further build this ‘world’ conceived by Guillermo del Toro.
As always, I am determined not to give too much away. To do so would be to the detriment of those of you (if there are any of you) who choose to read this review.
What I will say however is that, unlike so many Hollywood sequels, Pacific Rim: Uprising surpasses expectations and actually gives additional legs to the franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed this picture and I challenge anyone not to find themselves smiling at some point during this action-packed slog fest.
In one line: It’s time for us all to join the fight against the Kaiju.