Action Adventure

Film Review: 'Pacific Rim Uprising' is Bigger, Better and Won't Kill Your Brain Cells

March 23, 2018Ben MK

When the first Pacific Rim hit theaters in 2013, moviegoers were still hungry to feed their appetite for Kaiju movies. But since then, we've gotten Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and even the wonderfully quirky Colossal. Can Pacific Rim Uprising overcome all these recent challengers and emerge victorious as the new king of the monster movies?

Picking up 10 years after the events of the original, this action-packed sequel follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Idris Elba's Stacker Pentecost from the first film. Once a Pan Pacific Defense Corps cadet, Jake was kicked out of Jaeger pilot academy a year before his father heroically led the charge to cancel the apocalypse. Adamant about not being like his dad, Jake now survives as a hustler, squatting in a half-destroyed beachfront mansion and stealing and reselling old Jaeger parts on the black market for profit.

When Jake crosses paths with Amara Namani (newcomer Cailee Spaeny), however, he finds himself brought back into the fold. A girl who lost her family during a Kaiju attack when she was younger, Amara isn't one to wait around for someone to save her. Smart, spunky and not afraid to stand up for herself, she too has been stealing old Jaeger tech, which she's been using to build her own Jaeger — albeit a much smaller one — which she's nicknamed "Scrapper." And when she, Jake and Scrapper run afoul of the PPDC, they both end up being recruited by Jake's older sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).

Rejoining his former Gipsy Avenger co-pilot, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), Jake must now train Amara and a new generation of Jaeger pilots. For even though there has been no Kaiju activity for the past decade, it doesn't mean humanity has been letting its guard down. On the contrary, a Chinese mega-corporation called Shao Industries, led by its no-nonsense CEO Liwen (Jian Ting) and her right-hand man, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day, reprising his role from the original), has been developing a whole new type of Jaeger — an army of drones that can be piloted remotely — and it threatens to render the current Jaeger program obsolete.

Of course, that's not the only threat Jake and his fellow Jaeger pilots will face in the film. From a mysterious rogue Jaeger nicknamed Obsidian Fury that's hellbent on decimating the ranks of the PPDC to a trio of Kaijus that re-emerge to end mankind's time on Earth once and for all, Pacific Rim Uprising lives up to its name and then some, with director Steven S. DeKnight and his co-writers, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin, delivering a non-stop action thrill ride that virtually doesn't let up till the end credits begin to roll.

Suffice to say, Pacific Rim Uprising manages to do what something like Michael Bay's Transformers franchise has tried not so nobly to achieve, which is continue the series' blockbuster expansion without sacrificing wit or killing audiences' brain cells in the process. And it does so not just with spectacular set-pieces, but also by giving us characters that we can identify with, and that we can care about and journey along with, whether they're trying to redeem themselves, prove themselves or find a family they can belong to.

Throw in a surprising choice of villain and the promise of a sequel that will take the fight to the alien race of "Precursors" that sent the Kaiju to Earth in the first place, and the result not only reinforces the old adage that bigger is better. It also goes to show that whether you're saving the galaxy or saving the planet, it doesn't hurt to have John Boyega on your side.

Pacific Rim Uprising releases March 23rd, 2018 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

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