Pacific Rim Uprising is a rollicking robot and monster beatdown. There's a story wedged in between the carnage. It's fairly silly and nonsensical, but thankfully doesn't detract from the entertainment value of the film. No one is walking into this sequel expecting a think piece. It's a popcorn spectacle with a new batch of likeable characters. Pacific Rim Uprising is twenty minutes shorter than the original. That's a wise move from the studio and production team. They've delivered an all killer, no filler ride at the box office.
Set ten years after the Kaiju defeat, John Boyega stars as Jake Pentecost. The son of General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), he's turned his back on his father's legend. Jake is a rebel that steals Jaeger tech to fund his partying lifestyle. He's forced to return to the Pan Pacific Defense Corp (PPDC) after a run in with a scrappy orphan (Cailee Spaeny). His older sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) has had enough of his hijinks.
Jake is put in charge of training a new generation of cadets, much to the annoyance of his former partner (Scott Eastwood). Jake's cavalier attitude changes after an attack by a ferocious, rogue Jaeger. The human victory over the Kaiju was premature. The threat has returned with an even more deadly intent. Jake must emerge from his father's shadow, and lead the PPDC in their darkest hour.
Pacific Rim Uprising is a nonstop action flick. Jake offers a brief voiceover to bring you up to speed, then the plot kicks into high gear. The film has a few dark moments, but is overall a much more lighthearted experience. Charlie Hunnam, the star of the original, isn't mentioned here at all. That character was brooding. John Boyega is completely different. Jake makes jokes, winds people up, isn't that serious. The tonal shift of the lead changes the feel of the entire film.
The sequel plays to its audience. You either like robots fighting monsters or you don't. Director/screenwriter Steven S. DeKnight charges headfirst into this franchise like a bull in the proverbial china shop. The characters, and there's quite a few, spew PPDC verbiage unceasingly. The Jaeger names, aliens, weaponry, it all begins to jumble. That said, it's not important to understand everything. You'll get the gist, followed by mind-blowing, city destroying action. The visual and sound effects are outstanding. Pacific Rim Uprising was fantastic in IMAX. It'll cost more, but worth it for the epic battles.
John Boyega's star continues to rise. He's an actor that fills the screen with presence. Big budget action films are his forte. He pulls off a charm offensive while kicking a whole lot of ass. That's not easy to do. Some actors are swallowed up by larger than life moments. Boyega looks effortless as he pummels the Kaiju. I'm not so sure about his moustache. DeKnight should have added some CGI hair to his upper lip, like the reverse of Henry Cavill in Justice League.
From Universal and Legendary Pictures, Pacific Rim Uprising is surprisingly more fun than the original. It's shorter, revved up with less baggage. Plot hawks will quibble, but you can't take this movie too seriously. Giant robots fighting monsters from another universe isn't thought provoking. Black Panther is about to be dethroned by Gipsy Avenger...the only Jaeger I could remember.