By Jose Jara
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
By: Daniel Guzman
A Sequel That Should Not Have Been Made
I wanted to like Pacific Rim: Uprising. I really did. My son and I enjoyed Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim with its monsters vs. fighting robots. Del Toro demonstrated his fanboy appreciation for the old Japanese giant-monster genre throughout his directing of the first film. Cast with Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Ron Perlman, Pacific Rim garnered a cult following, and a steady box office run overseas that allowed a greenlight for a sequel.
Pre-production started off bad with the sequel losing most of the members that were catalysts to its original success. Charlie Hunnam backed out in order to be a part of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which was a commercial bomb, but I personally loved every minute of it. The biggest death blow to this sequel was received prior to production beginning with the loss of its director. Guillermo del Toro was left having to choose between directing a passion project, Shape of Water, or the Pacific Rim: Uprising. Del Toro decided on Shape of Water, which became an Academy Award winner, including Best Picture & Best Director.
The reigns for directing this film were passed down to Steven DeKnight who has primarily been an executive producer for such shows as Angel, Smallville, Dollhouse, Spartacus, and Daredevil, and only has had 5 credits for directing a few episodes in each of these sitcoms. The only recurring actors brought back from the original film are Charlie Day who reprises his quirky role as Dr. Newton Geiszler and Burn Gorman as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb. Actress, Rinko Kikuchi, does come back to play her role as Mako Mori, but is only used a cameo to introduce a connection between her and actor John Boyega who is playing the lead role as Jake Pentecost, the underachieving son of the late great Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). Scott Eastwood, son of the Clint Eastwood, is also pegged into the sequel as a duo alongside John Boyega that never quite fits the hole just right.
As I started off saying, I really wished I could give this sequel my seal of approval, but I cannot. This movie was so generic in its execution. The writing and acting were very basic, which at times made me feel like I was watching a cheesy sitcom. John Boyega was as naturally charming as he could possibly be given this script, but his acting was not enough to save this messy plot. Scott Eastwood was pretty bland and forgettable, only having me in awe of how much physical resemblance he has to his father yet lacking the grit and leading man star power that his father possessed. Pacific Rim: Uprising ends up feeling like a bad mash up of Transformers mixed with the silly action lines from Power Rangers. The sequel lacks the emphasis on the Japanese monster feel that its predecessor had, leaving the viewer just watching a bunch of older fighting robots against newer artificial intelligent robots.
I will say that my son did get a kick out of watching once again some fighting robots on the big screen. Once his palate of movie watching matures, I’m afraid that he will stumble on to Pacific Rim: Uprising on television and be ashamed for what he thought was a good movie. At least for now, he is left unscathed. Ignorance is bliss. For everyone else out there, I have warned you, viewer beware. Do not go see this film thinking it has any good connection to the former. This monster vs. robot movie is just a poor impostor.