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Pacific Rim Uprising: Flop or Fantastic?

Dashiel Gabryszewski, Junior Writer

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What if giant alien monsters fought transformers? The Pacific Rim franchise is based around the idea of giant, other-dimensional monsters, Kaiju, coming out of the sea, and humanity fighting back with giant robot suits, Jägers. It is a more modern version of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,” an amalgamation of our society’s obsession with alien invasions and Transformers movies. Surprising to many, the first installment, Pacific Rim, made almost $102 million. This almost guaranteed a sequel, which graced the world this March 23rd, 2018.

Pacific Rim Uprising was directed by Steven S. DeKnight, most known for his creation of Spartacus and his work on Netflix’s Daredevil. This was his first major motion picture, and his biggest transition from television to the big screen. The very first Pacific Rim was directed by Guillermo del Toro, who chose to work on other projects. DeKnight wanted to avoid simply taking the original movie and making it “bigger.” In an interview with The Independent, DeKnight commented, “The last thing I wanted to do was imitate what Guillermo did.” This is why most of the film occurs during the day, to avoid being reminiscent of the multiple night scenes of the original. The general idea of Pacific Rim Uprising was to remind people of the first, but not so much that it would be considered a clone.

The movie starts out with Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the war hero that sacrificed himself in the previous film. During the ten years between the end of the Kaiju war and the beginning of the movie, he had turned to a life of poaching and crime. Pentecost was forced back into the Jäger program after he was arrested for being in a unlicensed Jäger, built by the teenage Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). Both are pardoned for their crimes in return for enlistment in the Pan-Pacific Defense Force. Jake Pentecost became a trainer for the cadets while the mysterious Shao Corporation began to roll out its new line of drone-operated Jägers. Inevitably, things go wrong, and they have to save the world from a super-Kaiju, a so-called uprising from the last war.

This movie is undoubtedly a Pacific Rim movie. The big budget action, hefty use of CGI, and the fun action scenes between the Jägers and the Kaiju are all there. John Boyega steals the show in most scenes, easily being the most interesting and entertaining character. While some character’s nihilism quickly becomes a pain to sit through, Boyega’s character, Jake, is balanced with youthful determination and a natural sense of responsibility. His relationship with the young Amara Namani, played by Cailee Spaeny, is not given much screen time, yet still manages to be impactful without being cliché. Most of the other characters are fairly one-dimensional. Scott Eastwood plays the “army-man” Nate Lambert, who dislikes Jake for no real reason, but bonds with him over beating the snot out of giant alien monsters. Burn Gorman plays Dr. Gottlieb, the mad scientist who is inexplicably always correct. The list goes on, but many of the remaining characters are clichés of characters from other action movies.

The most important part about a movie like this is the action scenes. Pacific Rim Uprising is different from many action movies in that it has a particularly ridiculous premise. The cast, crew, director, etc, they all know how far-fetched this movie is, and it is therefore not taken as seriously. This is undoubtedly a positive. One particular example of this is during the final action scene. One of the Jäger’s is thrown down a street, and the very tip of its finger taps the back of a blue car. The slow tap is and silence it brings is interrupted by the car alarm of the blue car before the Jäger is thrown into battle. It is the little things like this that make the movie an enjoyable experience. The action scenes are all great, with plenty of CGI explosions and hand-to-hand combat between robots and monsters. One addition was the introduction of conflict between different Jäger, which was a special treat for anyone rearing for more robot fights: mono e automono. Overall, it was definitely a fun action movie, and certainly comparable with its predecessor.

Steven S. DeKnight set out to make a fun action movie, reminiscent of the original but unique and special in its own way, and that is exactly what he accomplished. Such a movie, with a premise such is this one, is not meant to be taken seriously, or as a piece of drama. It is entertainment, first and foremost. The plot is not amazing, and some of the supporting characters are a little one-dimensional. However, it is fun, exciting, and exactly what I expected when I walked in the movie theater.

I would rate it as three out of five stars.

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Pacific Rim Uprising: Flop or Fantastic?