Friday, March 23, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising Review: Rises Up As A Tolerable Sequel

Pacific Rim Uprising Movie Poster
If there is one thing I cannot but  love it is the concept of giant robots. The idea of mechanical titans has always been something I love seeing in pop culture. The only thing that is as good as a giant robot would be giant monsters such as Godzilla. So what happens when you have a movie about Giant Robots against Giant Monsters? The answer is a little film called Pacific Rim. The 2013 blockbuster was a treat to see by being a big time adventure for silver screen. Despite the movie under performing (a mystery that baffles me even to this day) the attention that Pacific Rim garnered was enough for a sequel to be developed; and that film has finally made its way to theaters in the form of Pacific Rim: Uprising. The first film was directed by none other than Guillermo Del Toro but this time around Steven S.DeKnight takes the helm for this sequel. So with a new director and studio backing the movie it seemed that Pacific Rim: Uprising had no shortage of obstacles to overcome; and the end result was an experience that was bittersweet.

Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the first film and centers on new heroes such as Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) who is tasked to train a new group of Jaeger pilots. The story of Uprising was simple and that was not a surprising direction given that its predecessor did not feature a complex plot either. However while Pacific Rim’s story was simplistic it knew how to use that direction while branching out to create an investing world. Uprising was not so fortunate but that was not to say that it did not try. There were several ideas in the plot that were interesting such as having a double perspective in story with the leads Jake and the cadet Amara (Cailee Spaeny). Plus some of the story’s twist were surprising and managed to keep things engaging. However what held the story back was its pacing as it seemingly rushed things along rather than letting elements flourish. If nothing else the plot of Uprising was by no means boring as, even though it was lacking in substance, it still found a way to be entertaining.

When the movie began I found myself worrying about the cast. When introduced to Jake and Amara the duo came off as unlikable while the other characters came off as two dimensional. However these concerns drifted away as Uprising’s cast turned out to be a solid unit. Both Jake and Amura progressed well and they eventually became tolerable characters with Jake being the bigger standout of the two. The supporting cast also had some merit to it which was evident with Scott Eastwood as Nate. Nate first came off as a typical soldier character but as things played out there was a little more to him than just being a trope; and he managed to have good chemistry with Jake. Returning characters such as Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), Dr.Hermann Gottileb (Burn Gorman) and Newt (Charlie Day) added their charm to the cast-even if it was minimal. However, much like the story, the movie’s fast pace is what ultimately stunted the cast as the limited time prevented them from being fleshed out. Despite this problem the cast remained a highlight for the movie as their delivery turned out to be better than expected.

When it came to the likes of effects and other technical element it was not shocking to see Pacific Rim: Uprising would be high on spectacle. However despite its grandiose presentation the effects had as many hits as it did misses. Some of the visuals were creative and fit the big time moments that made Pacific Rim effective. However some effects were too blatant to the point where techniques such as the use of green screen was distracting. It did not help matters that the bright cinematography gave the movie a standard look that was missing a sense of vibrancy. The movie’s action was alright. While it did not the grandeur or detail of its predecessor the action still feature exciting moments such as the battles between Gypsy Avenger and Obsidian Fury. The score by Lorne Balfe was fairly decent as it was able to reflect the music by Rajmin Djawadi, but it was missing an individual flare that would allow the compositions to stand out.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is not the most worthwhile sequels to grace the silver screen. Its rushed delivery and lacking presentation hurt the movie in vital areas leaving it with it a mundane impression. Yet this is not to say Uprising was a dismal time at the movies. Despite its flaws several elements such as characters and action gave the movie a solid sense of entertainment. Pacific Rim: Uprising falls in the vast category of not living up to its successor, but in its own way the movie does keep true to what started in 2013; and if nothing else is a decent popcorn film for the season.

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