John Boyega demonstrates that he can do more than be the annoying Finn in this average follow up to the 2013 hit Pacific Rim. Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, son of the previous film’s hero played by Idris Elba and does a surprisingly good job. His acting is better than expected and performance as a bad boy and not a boy scout like Finn in Star Wars is believable. The opening scene with Jake sets the tone for the film and helps the audience know that this isn’t a serious film. The jokes used to demonstrate this were laughably bad but the point was clear. The audience is in the theater to see something silly and fun and we got just that.
Pacific Rim Uprising is an action packed ride full of great battles with the massive Jaegers and Kaiju. The story was basic but not what I expected. The direction the writers took this second installment was both unexpected and creative. As seen in the trailers, the Kaiju are back yet I found myself more interested in the battles between Jaegers. The giant transformer like robots can deal some impressive damage and the more human antagonist is more interesting to me.
Unfortunately not all of the cast returns for this sequel but some notable characters return such as Mako, Dr Hermann and Newt. Newt and Hermann have exceptional chemistry on screen once again and the results of their Kaiju drift in the original film have changed both significantly. Hermann works in the Jaeger program still while Newt is working for a company who is working to replace the Jaeger program with remotely piloted drones instead. The funny thing is how much resistance everyone puts up against the drone idea when it is clear that the remote operation is better for all involved.
Some new characters add some great depth to the film. Nate (Scott Eastwood), a tenured Ranger and Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a girl from the slums who built her own mini Jaeger are the two biggest editions. Eastwood and Boyega’s characters were once co-pilots before Boyega’s Jake decided he wanted to be independent and left the program for a life of crime. Their characters have a fun relationship that evolves during the adventure which makes for some fun drama and witty arguments. Amara on the other hand encounters Nate when she steals something he is trying to steal and takes him on a fun chase in her small Jaeger named Scrapper. Amara is a nice addition to the cast as she adds a level of innocence and charm that other characters don’t bring.
The epic battles make for some incredible spectacle but the overall plot of the Kaiju is not advanced enough for what seems to be a three part story arc. We don’t learn nearly enough about their intentions however we do get to see more interaction with the aliens than just fights. It isn’t meant to be an Oscar nominee but the story left much to be desired. The overall experience felt like a popcorn flick comic book film and was an enjoyable experience. The action between Jaegers was far more interesting than the true antagonist Kaiju which is a let down in a franchise that is essentially about Godzilla like creatures fighting extremely large Robots.
3 out of 5 Couch Cushions!!!