If you wanted to go see Pacific Rim Uprising and criticise it, you could rip it to shreds but there's more to this film than it's critical acclaim, or lack thereof. It is entertainment at its purest.
Do you have an inner ten-year-old boy? Do you love giant robots and over the top fight scenes? Well then have I got a film for you. Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) follows on from Guillermo Del Toro’s bombastic 2013 original, where we were introduced to the giant lizard Kaiju and humanity’s robotic Jaegers.
In Uprising, we join Jake Pentescost (John Boyega), son of legendary pilot Stacker Pentecost who... You know what? The plot doesn’t matter, this is a movie about giant robots fighting massive lizards! Trying to dig beneath the surface of the film is an exercise in futility, but that’s part of what makes it great.
Most of what goes on in the world of Pacific Rim can be summed up with two words: why not? Can we attach massive rockets to the jaegers? Why not? Can we drop a jaeger from space? Why not? Can the kaiju morph together in to a massive mega-kaiju? Of course they can! Because, the key to Pacific Rim is that it doesn’t need to make sense, the personality of the film is what carries it.
The film’s sense of humour is ridiculous, but in the best possible way. Boyega throws sarcastic comments left, right and centre, obviously having a brilliant time. Uprising seems to be unable to take its own ‘dramatic’ moments seriously, often playing them for jokes as well. After all, once you’ve gone as far as including massive robots as a plot device you can kiss goodbye to any sense of drama.
When you know, you know.
I could write pages and pages of criticism for this film. There’s tonnes of unnecessary exposition, the supporting cast are middling at best and the camera never really seems to know where to look. But, I must admit that I had a smile on my face almost throughout. There’s something that brings out your inner child when you see jaegers and kaijus toppling skyscrapers with reckless abandon.
However, the entire film isn’t just one long fight scene (unfortunately) and thanks to the effortless cool of Boyega’s Jake, the film never seems to lull. He owns every scene he’s in with a mixture of cockiness and genuine heart and shows a real character arc despite the limited time he’s given between giant robot brawls. Also, once you get over the fact that Charlie (Charlie Day) from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005 -) is a scientist, he’s a genuinely enjoyable character. Neurotic but trying to be suave, you can’t help but root for him.
Where was I? Oh yeah, robots punching giant lizards! The actions scenes retain the sense of unbelievable scale that the original perfected. On any screen these monsters are terrifyingly big, causing me to jolt in my seat a few times, even though I saw it in 2D. This makes every punch feel impactful, unlike in so many other blockbusters (cough Transformers cough) where you feel numbed by the constant action presented to you.
In the end, it’s the jovial attitude of the film that makes it work as more than a CGI spectacle. Just as you’re about to get bored, a witty one liner or explosion is thrown at you to keep you engaged. Steven S. DeKnight has taken this world lovingly created by Del Toro and has taken it at face value, accepting its ridiculousness and running with it. I can’t think of a film that I have enjoyed so thoroughly, not because it is a well-made film, because it’s not. But, it’s enjoyable because it knows what it wants to be and leverages its world and characters to do one thing; put a smile on your face.
Photo credits: Youtube / Movieclips Trailers