…The man sitting next to me fell asleep, he actually started snoring, but let me say in advance, this is not an accurate response to the next film in the Pacific Rim franchise. It’s not a perfect film, but it is by no means boring.
It has been 10 years since the Kaiju/monsters last breached the Earth’s seabed. And though it looks as if the Kaiju problem has well and truly been solved, the commanding powers that be, in their wisdom, still maintain Jaegers and train pilots, though they are mostly deployed to police civilian crime. In the absence of Kaiju tearing up cities and generally stamping on the teeny tiny humans, criminals and other bad elements have taken to collecting Jaeger parts, selling them on the black market or building their own robots, which of course is not allowed. This is where scavenger and hustler Jake (John Boyega) meets budding Jaeger builder Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) and in their ‘not so much on the right side of the law’ misadventure, they are arrested and sent to join the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps. Here we learn that Jake, is Jake Pentecost, the son of the legendary Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), the self-sacrificing hero of the last Kaiju war. And it would seem that their kismetical meeting and deployment into the PPDC is fortuitous, as a new Kaiju threat appears and there truly is a need for all hands on deck.
Admittedly, it has been a long time since I saw the first Pacific Rim film, but if memory serves me right, I remember del Torro’s film being a lot more character driven. The story in the original film, naturally lent itself to that aspect because we were privy to witnessing the original advent of the Kaiju and the subsequent events that followed. In the follow-up, though there are an abundance of scenes with characters interacting with each other, there is something very superficial about most of their exchanges and you can find yourself not paying attention. However, the moment that the narrative is grounded on emotional terrain, such as the explanation of what happened to Amara’s family, you automatically engage and I remember consciously sitting up straighter in my seat, when the recount flashback of her story was delivered.
In an actor’s career, there are certain projects where a performer has to show their pedigree, by doing more justice for their role, than a film deserves. To pull out a charismatic performances when some of the lines are, almost, almost cringe worthy, shows that all involved with the film cared about the project. Boyega, Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi and Scott Eastwood all have a natural charisma and use it to create the best chemistry they can and it is the first time that I have watched Eastwood look and sound so much like dad Clint, even his jaw belongs to his father in this film. Other performances range from eccentricity done well, but not consistently, to done badly. If you’re an actor, who wants to play a villain, who is very aware of the ridiculousness of the whole situation they inhabit, then look no further than Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves as to how it is done. Not to be too hard on the actors, what was truly needed was potent dialogue.
The best element about the film, is of course the Robots mashing up the raging monsters. The fights are done really well and the return of the Kaiju was plotted very cleverly, it is probably the smartest element in the whole film. In fact, the way that they reintroduced the monsters shows that there was a lot of thought and effort put behind the premise, it’s just a shame that this same astute judgement was not extended throughout and we were given too many hammy moments.
For the robot fights PRU is definitely worth watching on a big screen, as for the rest, just go with the flow.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is out NOW!