Director Steven S. DeKnight
Genre Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Cast John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman
Release Date March 23rd, 2018
The feature-film directorial debut for Steven S. DeKnight, Pacific Rim: Uprising is the sequel to the hit 2013 film about huge robots battling giant Kaiju (monsters). The original film was directed by Guillermo del Toro, who was originally planning to direct the sequel but stepped down to direct The Shape of Water instead. This proved to be a smart decision on his part as it won him Oscars for both Best Director and Best Picture. He is credited as a producer on Pacific Rim: Uprising. The cast includes John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Tian Jing
A visual powerhouse meant to be experienced in IMAX 3D, Pacific Rim: Uprising is an absolute blast and a more than worthy sequel. I absolutely loved the first film, and I hate the fact that to this day it is underappreciated. When trailers first dropped back in 2013 I knew absolutely nothing about Pacific Rim or the fact that is was based on graphic novels- nonetheless I was intrigued. Sure, on the surface it looks similar to the Transformers films, but the similarities stop there. Pacific Rim had a much more engaging storyline, not to mention a stellar cast that included Idris Elba and Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam. I mean let’s be honest with each other, Shia LeBeouf (I can barely spell this dude’s name without looking at the correct spelling multiple times) is no Charlie Hunnam, and he sure as hell isn’t Idris Elba. And don't even get me started on Megan Fox. Once the sequel was announced I was amped up, and when the trailers dropped I was beyond excited. As I exited the theater and dropped my IMAX 3D glasses into the clearly labeled bin, I had a huge smile on my face. I had just watched an extremely entertaining spring release that had the feel of a summer blockbuster.
Was it perfect? Of course not, but after this sequel I feel like this franchise can work its way up to the level of the Fast & Furious franchise if they are able to get extra creative with the writing (although, I think just one more film to close out the franchise would be ideal). Throughout Pacific Rim: Uprising I found myself in awe of each fast-paced action sequence, and this was one of the most impressive visually charged films I’ve seen in quite some time that didn’t have Marvel attached to it. Early on when Jake (Boyega) and Amara (Spaeny) arrive at the military base where all of the Jaegers (giant robots) are stationed, I was wide-eyed taking in the impressive size of these things. That was a very cool scene. As much as I enjoy a deeper meaning or an emotionally relevant storyline, at the end of the day entertainment value remains at the top of my list. The meat of Pacific Rim: Uprising is clearly the CGI and it is nothing short of incredible- my jaw dropped quite a few times. And going hand in hand with the visuals is a powerful and highly effective soundtrack. Pacific Rim: Uprising is not without its flaws, but so many scenes left me completely satisfied to the point where I didn’t focus on what could have or should have been better- and I am fine with that.
Pacific Rim: Uprising may not have the benefit of a cast with the level of talent found in the original, but it still has a few big name up-and-coming actors. Sure, the acting was a bit goofy at times and I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the character arc’s that transitioned from the first film, but overall it worked. The cast is lead by London born actor John Boyega, who made his first big splash in the industry snagging one of the biggest roles in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The British actor took advantage of his opportunities next starring in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as well as the Kathryn Bigelow crime drama Detroit. I think Boyega is extremely talented and is absolutely an actor to keep an eye on. In Pacific Rim: Uprising he has big shoes to fill taking on the role of legend Stacker Pentecost’s son, played by Idris Elba in the first film. I felt like he was perfect for this role considering his ability to find a balance between humor and drama.
Another actor who is creating a solid career for himself is Scott Eastwood, son of one of the best actors to ever live, Dirty Harry himself Clint Eastwood. He has been given some big roles in the last few years, including Suicide Squad and The Fate of the Furious. Eastwood is more than capable of putting in the work needed, and I enjoyed the backstory between him and Boyega’s character. I was genuinely impressed with 20-year old Cailee Spaeny and the very important role she played in the film. Honestly, I was surprised to learn she is 20 years-old as she does NOT look that old, and if anything I would have guessed 17 at best. Regardless of age, this is her first real role after starring in a short film in 2016. The Springfield, MO native is also a singer, and after watching her in Pacific Rim: Uprising you would swear she had a lot more experience. I hope to see more of her in the future. Returning to reprise their roles from the first film are Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses) and Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises, Crimson Peak). Day’s character Dr. Newton Geiszler takes an interesting turn after the first film and I have mixed feelings about it. Aside from that and judging solely from a performance standpoint, Day delivers a solid performance. Overall, I was more pleased with Gorman as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, as he again proved himself as a fan favorite. As I mentioned, the acting isn’t perfect, but for a visually satisfying sci-fi action adventure flick like this, it is more than enough.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is more than worth the price of admission, even if you pay for the premium showing which I absolutely recommend. I have talked with a few people who watched it in a standard theater and were still very pleased, so that’s good. Watching giant Jaeger's go toe to toe with Kaijou the size of skyscrapers who are dead set on ending the world as we know it- what’s not to love? The final scene sets things up perfectly for a 3rd film, so I hope the movie makes enough money to make another film a realistic possibility- I know I will see it opening weekend. Quick update, so far it has made $65 million in China alone less than a week after it released, so yeah, I think a sequel is a very real possibility. I absolutely intend to add Pacific Rim: Uprising to my collection of 3D Blu-rays, and I can’t wait to watch it again.