Action Adventure

4K Ultra HD Review: ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Succeeds Where ‘Transformers’ Failed

June 19, 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 these 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. 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.

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. To do so, director Steven S. DeKnight doesn't just give us spectacular set-pieces, but also characters whom we can identify with, and that we actually care about journeying along with.

With an eye-popping 2160p encode, Pacific Rim Uprising makes its presence known on the 4K Ultra HD format with definitive and spectacular results. From the ruins of a partially destroyed Santa Monica, California, to the icy landscape of Siberia, to the sleek architecture of a futuristic Tokyo, image detail is nothing short of outstanding, with bright, vivid HDR colors being the icing on the proverbial cake. Factor in the thunderous Dolby Atmos sound mix — which lets you feel the impact of every massive footstep, every explosion, and every one of the film's set-piece brawls — and this overall technical presentation is the very definition of reference quality.

Universal's two-disc 4K Ultra HD release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film, with the following extras on both the 4K and the Blu-ray:

  • Deleted Scenes (6:56) - Eight scenes, playable with commentary by Director Steven S. DeKnight ("Alt. Party James Gunn," "Amara Arrives at Shatterdome Part 1," "Amara Arrives at Shatterdome Part 2," "Amara Meets the Cadets," "Jake & Nate Discuss Jake's Return," "Amara Meets Liwen," "Newt and Alice" and "Kaiju Brain from Fury").
  • Hall of Heroes (3:25) - John Boyega hosts this look at the high-tech capabilities of the movie's next-generation Jaegers: Gipsy Avenger, Bracer Phoenix, Guardian Bravo and Saber Athena.
  • Bridge to Uprising (4:39) - DeKnight talks about what has transpired in the Pacific Rim universe during the decade between the timeline of the first film and this sequel.
  • The Underworld of Uprising (3:47) - DeKnight returns to host this look at the underworld and black market elements of the movie.
  • Becoming Cadets (5:58) - Karan Brar, Rahart Adams, Ivanka Sakhno, Levi Meaden, Shyrley Rodriguez, Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Wesley Wong and Cailee Spaeny talk about playing cadets on-screen and their camaraderie off-screen, as well as the physical training required for their roles.
  • Unexpected Villain (5:48) - Charlie Day talks about his role in the film.
  • Next Level Jaegers (5:08) - A look at the production design and visual effects involved in bringing to life the movie's new group of Jaegers.
  • I am Scrapper (2:42) - A brief look at Amara's homemade Jaeger, Scrapper, and his key characteristics.
  • Going Mega (3:21) - A look at the film's new Kaiju (Hakuja, Shrikethorn and Raijin), and how they come together to form Mega-Kaiju.
  • Secrets of Shao (3:!4) - Jing Tian talks about her character, Liwen Shao.
  • Mako Returns (2:08) - Rinko Kikuchi talks about reprising her role as Mako Mori for this sequel.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Steven DeKnight - DeKnight talks about his approach to reintroducing audiences to the world of Pacific Rim, shooting in California, Australia and China, the set and production design, the actors and their performances, the visual effects, the pacing and the editing, the Jaeger character designs, the sound design, the cinematography and more.

Pacific Rim Uprising is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of June 19th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on March 23rd, 2018.

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