I mentioned in my last review that I started getting into anime again and the anime that did it was Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters on Netflix. The plot got me. Godzilla has basically become unstoppable, so instead of fighting an endless and hopeless battle against a creature they can’t hope to win, humanity leaves earth in hope of finding a new planet to call home. But after years of traveling through space, coming up empty, they decide to return to earth.
Sometimes all you need is an interesting concept to pique the viewers’ interest.
I have to admit, Pacific Rim 2 got me as well. I wasn’t expecting to like this at all. It honestly looked like a cheap cash in on a popular film. Worst case scenario I thought the very least it would be better than the last Transformers film. Thankfully it was.
If I had to compare this to anything, it actually reminded me a lot of Independence Day 2, a film I enjoyed maybe way more than I should have.
Pacific Rim 2 has two things really working in its favor. For one, it stars John Boyega, who I really enjoyed in this. Way more than I did with him in The Last Jedi. At least in this film he had a reason to be in it and was given something to do.
The other thing this film has is giant robots fighting giant monsters. So instantly that makes this film much more enticing to someone like me with the nerdy tastes I have.
Sometimes you just need a dumb fun action movie to come around and Pacific Rim is that dumb movie. This seems to be my motto each time a new Fast and Furious film comes out.
But how exactly does this film separate it from garbage like the Transformers movies? Another franchise featuring giant robots punching each other. Well, for one this isn’t three hours long. Also, I never thought this was pandering to the audience/me. The only thing this film absolutely pandered to was the Chinese demographic by casting several Chinese actors when really they should be Japanese since the main setting is in Japan. Not to mention this is a Japanese kaiju monster movie.
They’re at a difficult crossroads.
On one hand, this is inspired by the classic Toho films. But, on the other hand, every film now needs to pander to Chinese theatergoers since there’s like a billion of them and they all love seeing movies.
The problem is the Chinese kind of hate the Japanese and vice versa. They have to pander to both groups that hate each other. It’s like making a religious science fiction film. Which might be why A Wrinkle in Time bombed. Or maybe it was just a shitty film, I don’t know since I never saw it.
So, you ready for another one of my random thought film essays? No? Too bad!
It’s been 10 years since the events of the first film. The kaiju monster invasions have stopped but that doesn’t mean earth isn’t still paranoid about them returning.
As most of the world has rebuilt, some parts are still in shambles. The black market is as strong as ever. Mixed in the middle of this is Jake, the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first film.
Unlike his father, Jake has zero interest in being a hero. So instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he has decided to live carefree, hustling others and squatting at abandoned mansions.
Jake has his eyes on a big prize, the power core to a decommissioned Jaeger. But as Jake arrives, someone else got to it before him, leaving him in a bit of a tight spot, seeing as he promised a couple of thugs itching to kill him a giant payday.
Without the promise of getting rich, they go to plan B, kill Jake.
Jake manages to escape, tracking the person who stole the power core down to an old warehouse, where he discovers they have built their own tiny Jaeger who she calls Scrapper. She being Amara. For some reason I thought maybe she was going to be John Boyega’s love interest, but she looked 15 while he was an adult. Basically this is a classic meet cute, so I only assumed… boy meets girl, girl takes boy out on her tiny robot.
The authorities track them down and they have to make a break for it, using Scrapper to flee. Unfortunately for them, a full sized Jaeger is on their trail.
They give a good fight but in the end they are stopped and arrested.
Being the son of a hero has its perks however and Jake is let off easy as long as he rejoins the pilot program, training new Jaeger recruits. One new recruit being Amara, seems building your own Jaeger out of scrap looks good on your resume.
At this center we are introduced to the other recruits and Scott Eastwood’s character Nate. Okay, so Scott Eastwood. He’s a terrible actor. I’m not a fan. I’ve seen him pop up in a few things and he sucks. No sugar coating it, he is terrible. He’d never make it in Hollywood movies if his last name wasn’t Eastwood. The best way to describe his acting would be wooden. He’s very stiff and wooden.
But, I digress, he isn’t terrible here. The wooden acting works for the character as he plays the strict no nonsense instructor who has a beef with Jake because he left the pilot program.
Oh, if you’re wondering if Charlie Hunnam’s character from the first film will make an appearance, you’re going to be disappointed. The character isn’t even mentioned. The only three people returning are the two scientists and Jake’s adopted sister Mako. Who you know will enviably end up dying. A cliché that really gets on my nerves. I’m looking at you Independence Day 2 and Kingsman 2 and every other sequel that has brought back a character only to kill them off in the first 10 minutes.
With what I think is the plot to the rumored Top Gun sequel, the Jaeger program is getting an overhaul, putting in place drone Jaegers. I thought maybe it would go the route of Stealth, that Jamie Foxx film no one remembers.
Veteran jet pilots face off against their drone counterparts, only to have the AI go AWOL. And I figured that would be the case here as when they are about to vote on the use of these new machines, a rogue Jaeger shows up and attacks the city, killing Mako in the process.
The company leading this new venture is led by Shao played by Tian Jing. Running her science department is Charlie Day. He’s now hotshit, and an even bigger asshole than he was in the first film.
But he’s keeping a secret, for 10 years he’s been mindfucking a kaiju brain in a jar. And he’s gone kind of crazy. Secretly he’s been sabotaging the drone Jaegers with cloned kaiju brains, implementing them in each robot.
Now that the drones are ready to be deployed, he sets his plan in motion, releasing the evil Jaegers loose, wiping out earth’s defense force and cracking open a new rift into the alien world where they send a handful of kaiju monsters.
We are never fully let in on why they want us dead, just what their goal was to erupt mount Fuji. If they succeed in getting it to erupt, it will destroy the world!
The main issue I have with this is we know that isn’t going to happen. We know they’ll stop the giant kaiju monster in time. There’s not much risk or tension. You’re basically going through the motions until the film ends.
I like that they spent time building character, but that also means less time for giant robots punching things, you know the whole reason we are watching this film in the first place.
Also with all the time they spend with these young cadets, I barely remembered them when it came time for you to feel sad that some of them die. I’m still not sure who doesn’t make it. Hell, Shao shows up at the end piloting Scrapper to help save the day, and I have no idea what happened to her. I think she makes it out, I’m blanking on what exactly happened.
Another thing that felt oddly sandwiched into this film was this poor excuse for a romantic subplot between Jake, Nate and Jules. It never really goes anywhere. It isn’t as forgotten about as the love triangle from Atlantic Rim, the Asylum knockoff to the first film. But it’s still pretty pointless. What’s that? I never mentioned Jules? That’s because she serves zero point to the plot and is only in this to give Jake and Nate the case of the no gays.
I honestly didn’t see Charlie Day’s character being the evil mastermind behind it all. Though I really should have. It seemed like Shao was behind it, using her drone Jaegers to take out Mako since her vote was the deciding vote on if the drones could be implemented.
I almost kind of prefer if this movie didn’t have kaiju monsters in it. I know, crazy. No kaiju monsters in your giant kaiju monster movie? Absurd! But think about it, with the old threat gone, the new threat should be each other. The thing with most sequels is they mostly rehash the same plot of the first film, but this time it’s bigger. Pacific Rim tried to stay away from that… mostly until the end where they give us a new kaiju monster but this time it’s even bigger!
As they eventually capture Charlie Day, they threaten that now they plan on taking the fight to them. Which is exactly how ID2 ended. So did the sequel to Skyline now that I think about it. I guess that’s just the stock go to ending, now we take the fight to them!
The real question here is if this is as good as the first film. Obviously it isn’t, but it is in no way a pointless sequel. After seeing Perfect Pitch 3, the epitome of a pointless sequel, there was no more story to tell, being made only to cash in on a known name brand.
Pacific Rim on the other hand, I felt had more it could tell. The world they created was so fascinating that I really didn’t care if I saw a kaiju in this. The first film was the same way. The religion started because of the kaiju monsters, even turning a downed skull into their church, the underground black market run by Ron Perlman… Why wasn’t he back for this one by the way? If I remember correctly in the after credits he does live, right?
For my rating of Pacific Rim: Uprising, I gave it a SEE IT rating. If you know what you’re getting yourself into, you’re going to enjoy the film for what it is, an excuse to turn your brain off for a couple of hours while you watch things punch each other for a while.
At one point they’re just ripping down skyscrapers and chucking them at each other. They destroyed more buildings in this than Superman did in Man of Steel. It kind of seemed unnecessary, but how often do you get to see giant robots whipping skyscrapers around like Catwoman?
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