Monday, May 23, 2022

REVIEW: Pacific Rim: Uprising (live action movie)

Pacific Rim: Uprising is a sci-fi action movie. I bought my copy new.


Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the first Pacific Rim movie. Parts of the world have recovered from the past kaiju attacks, while other parts are still in ruins. Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost, who sacrificed himself to save the world in the first movie, is living as a thief in Santa Monica, California, one of the still-ruined parts of the world. Jaeger parts fetch the best prices, but they're also heavily guarded - he and another thief, Amara Namani, are caught and put in jail. Jake's adoptive sister, Mako, gives him a choice: he can either go to prison for a very long time, or he can reenlist in the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) and help train young cadets, including Amara. Jake reluctantly agrees to reenlist.

Amara is a huge Jaeger enthusiast and excited to be given a chance to pilot one, but first she'll have to learn to trust and work together with other people. Unfortunately, there isn't much time, as as the PPDC finds itself up against an upgraded threat to humanity.

It's been a long time since I watched the first movie. I could remember the whole drifting and neural handshake stuff, but I couldn't remember much of the story or most of the characters. I didn't realize until after I watched this movie that I owned a copy of the first one, or I'd have started with a rewatch of that one. I suppose this wasn't a bad way to go, though, because it meant I wasn't constantly comparing it to the first movie.

If you like action scenes featuring massive robots and monsters, this is a fun movie, although it does take a while for the big monsters to show up. I had forgotten just how enormous the Jaegers were, but the initial chase scene between Amara's homemade Scrapper and a real Jaeger was a great reminder. The last big battle between the Jaegers and the kaiju led to lots of building smashing, which got me to thinking about action movies, action scenes, and collateral damage. This movie works hard to hide the fact that a lot of civilians would have died after the kaiju emerged, despite showing a few scenes in which people ran from them. It's doubtful that an entire city full of people would manage to evacuate to the underground shelters in time, and yet there wasn't a single person visible in all the structures that got smashed.

John Boyega and Cailee Spaeny were great as Jake and Amara, and they also made a good pair. However, their stories did make it feel a bit like two separate but complementary movies had been smashed together. In one, Jake was the rebellious son of a war hero, realizing that, even though he wasn't his father, the world needed someone to fight for it again. The other was a teen action movie starring a bunch of scrappy kids who learn to work together and save the day. Character-wise, the first got a bit more attention than the second. I wish there had been time to get to know the other cadets and show more training scenes.

In one of the extras, the director talks about all of the Jaegers and kaiju as distinct characters. That's another one of the areas where I felt like the movie could have been stronger, except there just wasn't enough time. I constantly mixed up a couple of the Jaegers - the only one I could easily identify in an instant was Saber Athena, who was orange. The kaiju were just a bunch of screaming monster things - I didn't even realize until I watched the extras that they all had names and completely separate abilities.

One question I had that I don't think was ever answered: what happened to Raleigh, Mako's Jaeger partner? A bit of googling indicates that this question was answered in a prequel novel, but as a viewer who hasn't read that (and didn't know it existed), I thought it odd that his name was never once mentioned.

All in all, this wasn't the best movie ever, but it had some good giant robot action scenes and was fun, as long as you didn't think about the details too much (I'm still wondering how Amara managed to take care of herself and somehow build Scrapper from scratch, considering what survival in post-attack Santa Monica must have been like for a child).


Deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director, a director commentary track, and a bunch of "making of" featurettes. The deleted scenes were okay, but I really enjoyed the featurettes. I didn't bother listening to the movie commentary.

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