Pacific Rim Uprising – This Just Happened?!?

(L to R, center) CAILEE SPAENY as Amara, SCOTT EASTWOOD as Lambert and JOHN BOYEGA as Jake with Amara's fellow Cadets in "Pacific Rim Uprising." The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity.

Pacific Rim Uprising isn’t able to bring the excitement that the first installment of the Pacific Rim franchise did upon release a few years.

It’s ten years after the events of Pacific Rim and Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the legendary Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) has left Jaeger program.  He isn’t in the best of places when the film starts out.  It’s after he discovers Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) and her built-from-scratch Jaeger that the two get arrested and the only way he’s able to avoid prison time is to head back to the Jaeger Pilot Academy to train a new generation of pilots.

When Jake’s estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), is placed in danger, Jake steps up to lead the fight with his fellow ranger, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), at his side.  The two haven’t had the best of relationships in recent years but they both step up to defend the world when a rogue Jaeger starts to attack.  The attack leads to the approval of unpiloted Jaeger drones.  After another breach is opened, it’s a race to save the planet from an apocalypse.

The first film seemed like a great idea at the time with epic fights between Kaiju monsters and Transformer-esque robots piloted by humans.  When one takes Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba out of the mix, some of the best things about the previous installment are no longer an option for the sequel.  There’s nobody in Pacific Rim Uprising who is able to replace what Elba and Hunnam brought to the first film–not even John Boyega, who delivers an inspirational monologue has the film heads towards a climax.  Boyega does the best with the material but it isn’t enough to save the film.

Cailee Spaeny shows promise as an actress as she plays a newcomer, Amara Namani, to the franchise.  It’s a breakthrough performance and no doubt will we be hearing more from her over the years to come.  Given her on-screen chemistry with Boyega, it will surely play a role in the inevitable sequel to maybe close out the franchise.

Perhaps the downfall of Pacific Rim Uprising can be explained by Steven S. DeKnight replacing Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro.  Screenwriter Travis Beacham also didn’t return to the franchise for the sequel.  Those two played a big role in the winning formula in the 2013 film and without them, the sequel doesn’t work.

Pacific Rim Uprising will offer thrills but the sequel is missing a lot of the ingredients that made the first film an entertaining hit.

DIRECTOR:  Steven S. DeKnight
SCREENWRITERS:  Emily Carmichael & Kira Snyder and Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin
CAST:  John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona and Charlie Day

Universal Pictures will open Pacific Rim Uprising on Friday, March 23, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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