Horrible CGI and a poorly written narrative are just some of the reasons why Pacific Rim Uprising is an epic failure. Why do you think Guillermo del Toro decided to focus his attention on The Shape Of Water rather than this monstrosity? Del Toro’s original film already overcame the odds and made an impressive $309 million worldwide. There was no logical way for a new story to even be developed and Universal should have stopped while they were ahead. Nevertheless, when a film does well, Hollywood’s response is to continue to exploit from that source material.
Steven S. Deknight steps into the director’s chair for del Toro and the differences in styles is quite shocking. The Oscar-winning director made sure that the focus of his film stayed primarily on the Jager’s (robots from the movie) and the Kaji (monsters from the film). Both were visually stimulating in the colors they used for the robots and the design of the monsters. Pacific Rim succeeded in giving each a realistic appearance as well. Deknight went with more of a streamlined approach in both the appearance of the monsters and the robots. The result is the two most important elements of the film look out of place and don’t fit into the universe that was created in 2013.
Writers Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin, and Deknight were tasked with developing a storyline for the sequel and it is a mess. Instead of creating an original tale that builds off of the first film, Pacific Rim Uprising is riddled with enough cinematic tropes to bore anyone watching to tears. Of course, we start with the most overused plot devices in sequels, the lead actor (John Boyega) being related to a beloved character who died. In this case, Boyega is the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who perished saving the world years ago. His role, of course, has an edge to it (shocking) but Stacker’s son meets his match in a streetwise junk dealer named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaney). They both get picked up by the police after taking Namani’s rogue Jager for a spin and thrown in jail. They are given a choice, either face hard time or enlist in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (Gee… I wonder what they pick). We are then transported to their arrival at a base where they are greeted by Army Ranger Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) who predictably has a bone to pick with the son of Stacker Pentecost. Inevitably, they have to put their differences aside to fight off an enemy which threatens humanity.
If the intended goal is to build upon the success of Pacific Rim, why didn’t someone come up with an original direction for the sequel? Instead, the writing team wasted 2/3 of the film trying to build upon the faux tension between Eastwood and Boyega’s character, while Spaney’s character spends a chunk of time trying to prove herself to the other recruits. Was the sequel meant to be a character piece with far fewer monsters? Audiences don’t even get to see the beasts until the third act, and even that was a letdown. Also, if the intention is to make the sequel more of a character-driven film then bring on better actors!
The cinematography was entirely basic and added nothing to the overall quality of the piece. What was probably most shocking was how horrid the special effects were. The CGI looked dingy. The scene at the pier seemed like something that was shot by a high school AV class. However, none of these issues even matches the bland performances given by our lead actors.
Boyega proved once and for all that he’s not a leading man. His performance was dull and at some points extremely rote. Eastwood isn’t any better either. While both are tasked with carrying the storyline, they each miserably fall short of their intended goal.
Overall, there’s nothing redeemable about this release. If someone in your family is a megafan of the first film, give it a shot (I guess). However, if anyone is an average moviegoer (like myself), then avoid Pacific Rim Uprising. There’s plenty of movies coming out soon which deserve your patronage.