‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ falls flat
Here's a continuation of the mildly successful original Pacific Rim. To some extent it would help to have seen the original since this version feeds off certain elements: like the brain from the invading monsters; a leftover character (now John Boyega) and of course the fighting robots. Not having an in depth plot held a certain attraction: there was more time for action.
Boyega plays the hero-who-doesn't-want-to-be-a-hero Jake Pentecost. He meets up with the scrappy adolescent Cailee Spaeny's character Amara who is a self-taught robot-builder and pilot. She built a smaller version of the large fighting robots called “jagers.” Spaeny has spunk and spirit. You just start to care about her as she's reliving the memory of her parents being killed during the first movie. But it stops there. So much could have been done to develop her character through the interaction with other cadet pilots, or how she developed her piloting and technical skills. There's even friction between her and another cadet over Spaeny's rapid inclusion into the pilot training program.
Boyega has some friction of his own. First, he doesn't want to be reenlisted but does so to avoid jail. Second, there's friction with Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) because Eastwood dedicated himself to the cause and Boyega gave it up. Newt (Charlie Day), who had a mind-meld with one of the invading monsters in the first movie, keeps his character going in this version. Although this time he capitalized on his mind-meld and is now high up in the private corporation called Shao who just happens to make unmanned versions of the jager. But he still seemed like a weasel. The Shao Corporation is headed by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) who you may recognize from The Great Wall. I liked her in The Great Wall and she does well with what she has to work with in this film. Still, again, much underdeveloped.
I keep mentioning how underdeveloped these characters are because it seems like the movie is trying to include a human side, someone to care about and get you involved. It fails miserably. The first movie was simply an action flick: you had monsters, you had large, fighting robots and the two fought for an hour and a half. Simple. It worked. There were so many ups and downs during the film I actually fought off sleep at some points. There was light comedic banter that injected some much needed energy. And although I don't study or care who is in the films I see, I see them solely for their entertainment value. So I didn't know Scott Eastwood was even in the film at first. But as his character spent more time on screen I kept having a sense of deja vu. See if you spot his one liner that tickles your memory cells and brings a flash of his dad, Clint Eastwood. I hope to be seeing more roles for him later.
The graphics were good. The fight scenes were well done. The city destruction was well played. Can't say that I've seen a skyscraper thrown at a monster before. As an action film, the action was spaced too far apart. As a drama it simply fails. The movie is rated PG-13 for the fight scenes and runs about 111 minutes. I'll give it 2 out of 5 Miners.