Pacific Rim Uprising Movie Review
No Guillermo, no problem. Pacific Rim: Uprising, the unlikely sequel to the Guillermo del Toro monster mash, is somehow better, smarter and most importantly less obnoxious than its predecessor, despite with an Oscar-winning director no longer at the helm.
The original, despite having a small but rabid fan base, didn’t exactly set a high bar—my review called it “a compelling idea wasted with a poor screenplay and misguided storytelling” in which del Toro “phoned it in.”
Needless to say, expectations for this sequel with a no-name director were low. Extremely low.
But you know the great thing about low expectations? They’re easy to exceed. And Pacific Rim: Uprising far exceeds such middling expectations.
The story is still dumb, the robots still resort to punching (why?), and the film isn’t going to win any awards, but Pacific Rim: Uprising is consistently entertaining—and when you’re dealing with a movie about robots that battle monsters, I’ll take consistently entertaining any day.
With a new cadre of writers—notably without del Toro—Pacific Rim: Uprising is noticeably less jarring than its predecessor. Despite starring Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam, the original was mildly fun when the robots were in battle—but downright painful when the characters had to interact with one another. This new Pacific Rim stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood and Cailee Spaeny, and they are actually given coherent dialogue and interesting personalities (well, Eastwood, not so much), a stunning novelty in this short-lived franchise.
The writers even managed to make Charlie Day watchable, an astounding achievement given how much I wanted to beat him to death in the original. That alone deserves plaudits.
For those who don’t care about the writing—and I assume any Pacific Rim fan falls into that category—the action is pretty much on par with the original. The movie takes a while to get going, but once it does it boasts several well-conceived action sequences that rely on pretty solid CGI.
No cargo ships are used as weapons this time, however.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is naturally hampered by its hammy premise, but for a giant-robot-smashing-things movie, it’s a surprisingly entertaining venture—certainly better than the last several Transformers movies, and, of course, its predecessor. Thank God for low expectations.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.