In one of the most inspired moments from 2013’s Pacific Rim, a Jaeger (a giant robot) sprints towards a Kaiju (an alien monster) along the Hong Kong coastline, with Ramin Djawadi’s guitars blazing in the background. The 2018 sequel destroyed even that tiny bit of the original for me, by including a dubstep mix of the same score for merely five seconds before the climactic battle.
Pacific Rim Uprising is nothing more than a studio’s lazy effort to earn a quick buck by remaking the same mediocre-yet-successful film, and positioning John Boyega (also producer) as the next Will Smith. In a film about jet packs, turbo boosts and plenty of action set in the stratosphere – nothing *actually* flies.
Presumably bankrolled with a one line pitch of being a ‘Transformers vs Godzilla’ contest, the original film even though laughably short on material, managed to distract some of the audience by the sheer spectacle it provided. Director Guillermo del Toro seemed unapologetic about letting the child in him takeover and the final product was brimming with energy, even as it seemed to be lacking in skillful storytelling. The sequel on the other hand is a cheap imitation of Del Toro’s childlike enthusiasm, where the only brief seems to be – make it bigger than the last film. Bigger Jaegers. Bigger Kaijus. More diversity (including an Indian and a Chinese character), so that the film can be sold in more territories across the globe.
Pacific Rim Uprising reeks of insincerity from the very first minute of its running time, where it positions itself as a heist movie. After that it quickly moves into the son-fighting-the-large-shadow-of-his-father territory, insert some nonsense about how ‘team members are family’, squeeze in a love triangle amidst the end-of-the-world drama, and end with a childish snow fight after the worldwide destruction has been averted. I would give you a spoiler alert, but you already knew that didn’t you?
It’s the kind of hare-brained and cheesy sequel where John Boyega asks his partner – “Do you remember our old move?” and the partner responds with a ‘Hell yes!’. And then a few minutes later, Boyega asks again “let’s give him a surprise, partner”. The response to which is “you read my mind” – visibly impressed with his pun (the robot is operated through the mind). In there somewhere, the makers acknowledge Idris Elba’s (now iconic) speech about ‘cancelling the apocalypse’ and make a joke out of it. Now, only if the movie was as self-aware through the rest of its 110 minutes.
Pacific Rim Uprising isn’t even remotely interested in challenging its audience (not necessarily a bad thing) or its predecessor. What could have been a dumb entertainer like the first film, ends with the repetitive visuals of the general public running away from a monstrous leg that appears in the background. Also, most of the film seems to be fixating on the public looking at the sky with their jaws dropped. The sequel makes the mediocre first film look like a classic, in comparison.
All ears are on the clinking cash registers, while Boyega harbours delusions of superstardom. Some coffee for the gentleman.