It’s time for the last of my banked reviews, which I had hoped would get me back on track this week. This week had other ideas. I seem to be able to keep to my own schedule for only a few weeks at a time. Getting sick stinks, but most of you don’t care about that.
So…Pacific Rim 2: The Kaijuing. If you recall from the Finally Watched of the original movie, I went into it being told this movie would cure cancer, AIDS, and hoof-in-mouth disease. So there was no way it was going to match the hype, which led to me being disappointed in the final product. I kept waiting for that big wow moment that got so many of the people I knew declaring this the best giant monster movie ever…and I just never saw it. The whole experience was ruined for me and yet I thought it was a pretty good movie. Luckily Uprising came with none of that baggage. If anything it kept being referred to as not as good as the original, which meant it had nowhere to go but up in my perception. So how did it turn out?
RELEASE DATE: 2018
RELEASED BY: Legendary Entertainment and Universal Pictures
RUNTIME: 1 hr, 51 min
VIEWING SOURCE FOR THIS REVIEW: Cinemax “ActionMax” channel
STARRING: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Kira Snyder, Burn Gorman, and Tian Jing
SCREENWRITERS: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin; based on characters created by Travis Becham
DIRECTOR: Steven S. DeKnight
BOX OFFICE: $290,930,148 worldwide, $59,874,525 domestic according to IMDB
ESTIMATED BUDGET: $150,000,000 according to IMDB
The Plot: It’s been years since the Breach between dimensions have closed. Jager parts are a commodity on the black market, and the Shao Corporation is pushing their new drone Jagers to replace the two-pilot machines. Jake Pentacost (Boyega), son of the hero of the battle at the Breach, is in the Yager parts game, but he gets upstaged by Amara (Spaeny), a girl who built her own small one-pilot Yager, Scrapper. Both get pulled into military service when the heroes of the war are betrayed by one of their own, and it’s up to Jake, Nate Lambert (Eastwood) from the first war, and Amara and her fellow recruits to save the world.
Why did I want to see it: Forgive me if I repeat myself since this is a banked review and I don’t know what the intro is yet, but the first movie, while good, didn’t live up to the hype that I was flooded with prior to seeing it. I enjoyed it and I liked the concept but the way it was sold by some of my reviewer friends I thought it would be the greatest kaiju movie ever. I went into Uprising without that baggage. I didn’t have to expect to do everything short of cure cancer.
What did I think: That could be why I enjoyed this movie more than the previous one. It has a better balance of the characters, not throwing too many plot points, but still retaining everything I liked about the first movie in comedy and action. The humorous moments don’t feel forced and the action is really good, with some great choreography for computer generated images. The kaiju designs are great and so are the new Jagers and the upgraded Gipsy Avenger. (That’s Wikipedia’s spelling, probably because of the issues surrounding “gypsy” coming to light in recent years, that it isn’t just another name for performing wanderers.) We even get one that needs three pilots now.
Jake is a good addition to the group, though having been years since I watched the original I don’t know for sure if he was even mentioned in the first movie. Having Stacker’s son be the focus character this round makes a lot of sense as Nate’s arc was pretty much done, but Nate does still get to play an important role here, not so much passing the torch as making room in the spotlight to be part of Jake’s arc. Boyega really shows what he can do with a better character than he had in Star Wars. Too bad Mako is taken out of the story early as I would have loved to have seen more interaction between the adoptive siblings (though I’m glad they still didn’t make her and Nate a couple) but I really like Jake.
However, Amara Namani is officially my favorite character in this series. I don’t know how popular that opinion is within the fandom but when has that stopped the defender of Godzooki? The girl is barely old enough to vote and yet is able to make a Jager small enough to only need one pilot, manages to embarrass one of the larger Jagers, shows she can kick ass on her own when dealing with one of her less agreeable fellow recruits (earning her respect later on), and Cailee Spaeny has real on-screen chemistry with Boeyga. We also see her struggle and overcome so she isn’t a Mary Sue and the respect she gets is earned by her skills and persistence. I could see Amara and Jake as the same kind of pseudo-sibling relationship that Nate and Mako had in the first movie. Plus, and this may be heretical but see my previous Godzooki comment, Scrapper may be my favorite Jaeger just from how it was put together and why. I think getting to use it in the final battle may have served her character arc better concerning her family since “learning to work with others” really wasn’t her arc, but at least it is involved and looks cool while doing it.
Burn Gorman and Charlie Day return as Gottieb and Geiszler but due to what happens in this story, which is tied well to their actions in the previous one, it isn’t a rehash or continuation of their previous interactions, which I actually liked. It’s kind of cliché to have them do another comic relief bit but instead they’re light on their own but serve the heavier parts of the story. There’s not much else I can say without major spoilers but I think the way they were handled this time was the right path to take.
While the other cadets don’t get as much time to shine, we really didn’t get to know all the teams well in the first movie and we know enough that when one of them is lost you do feel sorry for him and his surviving teammate…though not enough. Admittedly many of the cadets and the new commander are there to fill necessary spaces. I don’t even remember their names so if there is a flaw to this movie that would be it. The same thing happened in the original, but frankly there was no way around it either time even the focus was on Nate and Mako’s characters last time and Jake and Amara’s this go around.
Was it worth the wait: Yes. I did enjoy the first movie but I should probably see it again with the lowered expectations. However, this movie didn’t have that baggage and I could enjoy it on its own. I don’t need the sequel to be better than the original, just continue the story properly and this one did. If there is another one I want to see Amara and Scrapper in action again and maybe build Jake and Nate’s characters, with their shared ties to Stacker and Mako, though I don’t know where you go with them since they buried the hatchet and I don’t want to push them apart again just for that arc to be shoved in. Plus I want to see more of Jake and Amara bonding because they are a good team. I know this movie doesn’t get the burying praise of the first movie, but that may actually be to Uprising’s benefit. Give this movie a good chance and you may have fun with it. I did.
Now I hear there’s an animated series…on Netflix of course so I’m missing out. Anyone seen it? Is it any good?