Film Review: Pacific Rim Uprising

Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to ‘kaijū eiga’ (Japanese giant monster movies) Pacific Rim (2013) was a soulless but enjoyable enough city-smashing romp.

This sequel can’t really do anything but repeat the formula only with bigger monsters, bigger robots and still more acres of wildly expensive but ho-hum computer-generated trickery.

With del Toro stepping down as director (he preferred making The Shape Of Water but remained a producer here), this is now handled by co-writer and director Steven S. DeKnight in his feature film début.  He does little but shoot the FX stuff although does stop the action here and there to allow the cast to blather clichés at each other.

The cocky, party-friendly Jake Pentecost (John Boyega from the new Star Wars) is son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba from the first film and glimpsed for about three seconds) .  Jake is introduced in an almost-funny montage as he tells us about his life 10 years after the nearly apocalyptic events of Part 1.

He engages in the illegal activity of scavenging parts of decommissioned ‘Jaegers’ (not Jägermeisters) which are the giant robot fighters that saw off the monstrous kaijus.

It’s during a shonky job that he meets young Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) who has built a mini-Jaeger which goes for a spin and gets them both arrested.

Jake’s transported to the Hong Kong Shatterdome, as punishment, to start training a bunch of new Jaeger pilots who need lots of help learning how to physically and psychically operate the gargantuan, gravity-defying things.

The world needs ace pilots, too, just in case the kaijus return from that inter-dimensional doorway thingie and they’re tough, cautiously-multicultural kids who look barely old enough to drive cars.

A bad Jaeger (preposterously called ‘Obsidian Fury’) turns up to bash several good ones in Sydney, around Circular Quay (although given how little of this is real, it’s debatable whether the production actually filmed anywhere near there).

This leads to a lumpy plot about kaiju-controlled Jaegers, kaijus swarming with little beasties (all a bit Cloverfield) and a final endless smash-‘em-up fittingly set in Tokyo.

However, by this point, the increasingly tedious sight of all that fancy CG FX will have you longing for those halcyon days where ginormous monsters were played by sweating stuntmen in baggy suits stomping around model cities in slo-mo.

With Scott Eastwood sort-of filling in for the absent Charlie Hunnam,   Charlie Day (as Dr Newton Geiszler) returning from the first film to ham it up further,  no sign of del Toro’s pal Ron Perlman, a main twist you’ll see coming a mile off and the promise of (yawn) another sequel (no spoilers necessary), this one could well have bored the tusks off Gamera.

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