Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 Pacific Rim featured heroes inside giant robot ‘Jaegers’ thumping enormous ‘Kaiju’ monsters. It was a visual feast that suffered from the same lack of decent script and characters that plagues the technically stunning, but story-stilted, Transformers franchise.
Del Toro’s a producer, but Steven S. DeKnight (former Spartacus and Daredevil TV showrunner) takes the director’s chair. They deliver plenty of dynamic CG destruction, but without del Toro’s eye for Lovecraftian monsters and steampunk robots, this feels more like a teen-friendly reboot than a sequel.
The first film suffered from a two-dimensional hero, played by a sleepwalking Charlie Hunnam, here replaced by John Boyega as Jake, the son of Idris Elba’s now deceased Stacker Pentecost. Boyega is fun, lending a by-the-book ‘reluctant’ hero much-needed energy. But as his former buddy-turned-rival, Scott (son of Clint) Eastwood is so wooden that Jake’s catchphrase “I am not my father” may have better served him.
Rinko Kikuchi returns, kicking ass amongst a diverse, multicultural cast, proving Mako again to be the character most deserving of being Pacific Rim’s central protagonist. But we’re here for the robot v monster mayhem, and that’s where Uprising delivers in broad cartoon strokes of wholesale destruction.
Despite characterisation and plotting about as deep as a puddle of Jaeger oil, the set-piece action scenes are cool to look at, with amiable if largely uninspired characters ensuring it all chugs along pleasantly enough. Sure, if you enjoyed the first, this sequel delivers, but not much beyond the whizz-bang visuals of the trailer.