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REVIEW: Pacific Rim: Uprising is Bigger but not Exactly Better



Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Produced by: Guillermo Del Toro, Thomas Tull, John Boyega, Femi Oguns, Jon Jashni, & Cayle Boyter.
Written By: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, T.S. Nowlin, & Kira Snyder
Starring: John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, & Burn Gorman.
MTRCB Rating: PG
5.0/ 10

User Rating
1 total rating



Interesting Plot Swerves, Some of the World Building, Fight Scenes.


Lack of Focus on Characters & Plot, Attempts at being funny.

10 years after the Kaiju war, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), spends the rest of his life partying and making a living off of selling Jaeger tech in the criminal underworld. But fate–er– trouble leads him back in the Jaeger program with a young scavenger named Amara (Cailee Spaeny). With a mysterious rogue Jaeger comes the scene, a conspiracy with a private manufacturing corporation emerges, and eventually so do some kaijus through a dimensional rift; it seems like it was an opportunity for Jake to become a leader like his father was to a new generation of Jaeger pilots to fight these threats.

Posted March 28, 2018 by




Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, despite its flaws, truly was something else. With its ambitious world building, retro creature features, and colorful characters it felt like there’s more to see with what it has to offer. That’s not entirely the case with the follow-up, Pacific Rim: Uprising as it makes the world seem smaller than what it once was.

PR1This is not at all Guillermo Del Toro’s film as he was pretty busy crafting and later on winning trophies for The Shape of Water. Steve S. DeKnight of Netflix’s Daredevil fame, is at the helm and the results were a nearly competent yet watchable popcorn movie. In its own right, DeKnight does seem to have borrowed stylistic choices from modern military Chinese movies ala Red Sea. Which does make sense considering how this was backed by China, the market that made Pacific Rim a box office success in the first place.

The film takes place 10 years after the first movie yet it makes the gap between this and the previous one feel like it’s been more than that. It’s a changed world that no longer has that neon-post apocalyptic grit to it and instead has sky blue backgrounds courtesy of Windows XP. Here they were able to expound the lore further like the criminal underworld Jake works with to survive in the first third of the movie and even show the technological advancements in the jaeger program. Admittedly, despite how whacky the twist was interesting for a while with how they swerved the story altogether. The franchise itself has established itself to suspend one’s disbelief, but the world or even the new rules in the movie were an admirable enough stab at forwarding the lore despite its predictability.

The problem with the film is that it tries to be a lot of movies in one that although these actors are doing their best to be memorable, they can’t really let the audience do so because it is all over the place. There’s a movie here that wants it to be about passing the torch to the next generation of young pilots, but it wasn’t entirely about them. It tries to be a crowd pleasing Top Gun-ish movie, that involves a rogue and a chiseled boy scout, but all the jokes can’t seem to land. Then there’s a political conspiracy that involves drones that takes a while to get every relevant character involved. I really believe there was a good story to tell with this new cast of characters but the lack of focus can be quite jarring.

Pacific-Rim-UprisingBut who cares about those things right? You’re here for big robots and monsters pummeling each other. Well you don’t get them until the last act of the movie. It was indeed cool to see these two duking it out when we do get it, but it wasn’t the kind where I feel like I had the need to stand and clap my hands like I was watching a Pay-Per-View match. There never really was a sense of stakes in these battles nor there were shots that represents the scale of these larger-than-life beings well enough on-screen. It didn’t make me feel like I was seeing how this battle comes alive on screen.  It almost felt like I was watching a video game cinematic rather than an experience of being there. Its stylistic identity is rooted on these anime zooms, slow mos, and shakiness that it’s almost as nauseating as watching a Bayformers movie. Despite a different artistic direction, what I got was still the kind of fun I was looking for in a movie…. At least I enjoyed it when I could tell what was going on said action scenes.

If there were any standouts however, it was John Boyega’s commanding Jake Pentecost and Caily Spaenee’s spry Amara. They shared a really good brother-sister like dynamic together (more than… the actual brother and sister between him and Mako) but again I wished they spent more time on because of how well these characters work off each other and some of their supporting cast members. A lot of the cast however felt like plot devices as they fade into the background as such.



Pacific Rim: Uprising offers the larger-than-life monster vs. robots fare we’ve come to expect with their cool electric whips, rocket punches, and beefed up kaijus. But that’s it. The film has this philosophy that bigger is better, and though it was bigger in this sequel it just comes off as serviceable at best. The film has a zinger in the end and well it seems like it’ll be setting up a ginormous threequel… Let’s just hope it’s a much better effort next time around.

Pacific Rim: Uprising stomps its way to theaters, March 31!

GP Manalo

G.P. Manalo is a student by day, and a resident tortured writer by night. Writing to keep him sane from all the Business School papers and presentations piling up each week.


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