Movie Reviews

Pacific Rim: Uprising – A Banal Exercise in Mecca Warfare

The first Pacific Rim *might* have featured the worst leading performance in a blockbuster EVER with Charlie Hunnam as a washed up former Jaeger pilot, now we have John Boyega in Uprising, so the movie has to be a step up from the original…right?

Synopsis: The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity in Pacific Rim Uprising. (Universal Pictures)

Starring: John BoyegaScott Eastwood, and and Cailee Spaeny

Writers: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin

Director: Steven S. DeKnight

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 111mins


For showtimes and more, check out Pacific Rim: Uprising on

Not being a fan of the original Pacific Rim, one of the worst blockbusters of recent memory (give me Michael Bay smashing robots together over this any day), it was only natural to be skeptical when a sequel a whole was announced five years later.

Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after this first film, with the war against the Kaiju seemingly over, with the world still on alert for another attack. Jake Pentecost (Boyega) is the son of “We’re cancelling the Apocalypse!” himself, except Jake is nothing like his father. Instead of saving the world he parties in mansions and sells Oreos, Sriracha sauce, and Jaeger parts on the black market which was easily the best part of the movie but it happens during the first five minutes. It’s these arbitrary pop culture-y moments that make for some cheesy goodness, unfortunately it’s Uprising’s banal characters and non-existent emotional connectivity that sinks the movie into the pacific rim. 

Boyega sure is charismatic here, only the character he inhabits and the characters that surround him make for lousy stakes and no interconnectivity. The film forces us into hoping onboard a relationship between Jake and a young drifter girl named Amara (Spaeny) (similar to the Transformers 5 plot line) with absolute zero context, and by the end the film wants us to have developed a deep connection between them but only leaves an underwhelmed feeling and confusion about how it thinks it earns its half-assed resolutions.

Fans of the original should enjoy the many call-backs, such as the name-dropping of every major character, and specifically the brief role of Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), who is all but a feeble plot device rather than a character here. Fans of Charlie Day also get their goodies too, as his character, Dr. Newton Geiszler, is a big-shot scientist who runs the show, even going so far as to… continually get himself off by drifting with a Kaiju brain? Sounds like something Charlie Day would do in real life to be honest.

If you end up seeing this movie, you’re only really going for one thing. Robots smashing robots and robots smashing Kaiju. The big difference between the first Pacific Rim and Uprising is that Uprising primarily focuses on Jaegers fighting Jaegers (the movie really hones in on its Jaeger politics) over Kaiju. The grand-scale mecca choreography does make for some real cool moments, but on a whole there was still something left to be desired. When we flash forward to the final fight in Japan, it seemed like the filmmakers exhausted all their tricks and just went for the good ole’ smash em’ up fighting style.

Uprising’s plot is messy, convoluted, and thinly revealed, but should be lauded for actually trying to tell a compelling story in an indirect way that is rare for blockbusters on this scale. Also, the Jaeger designs and Kauji designs were handled really well on the creative side, allowing for some real eye-popping sequences. That’s about all the positives that could be drawn from this film.

When it boils down to it, Pacific Rim: Uprising is a banal exercise in character development and audience attentiveness that is a slight improvement above the original but doesn’t contain enough substance to recommend anyone seeing this. No hyperbole, I’d rather sit through all five of the Transformers than watch two Pacific Rim movies.

Score: 2/10

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5 replies »

  1. Thanks for the review on this one. We ended up not being able to go see a movie a few nights ago, but it was a toss up between this one and Tomb Raider. Uprising had a more convenient time slot so I was leaning toward it, because even though I didn’t care for the first one I was hoping they would up the game enough with this second chance to make it more enjoyable. When I go see a movie like this I don’t need a lot of plot or character development, I just want the action and coolness of it. Unfortunately for the original the one liners and characters were so ridiculous that it took away from any interest in the robots and even the outcome (we were supposed to cheer for the humans, correct?). If I get to to the theater I’ll try Tomb Raider. This doesn’t sound like it was leveled up enough to justify the expense. But I’ll give it a whirl if it makes it to Netflix.