Pacific Rim: Uprising is set 10 years after the events of the first film. Over the span of a decade a lot of things can, and do happen. In the world of Pacific Rim, however, only a few changes seemed to have occurred. The security around literal world-ending technology has become relaxed and one conglomerate has been given permission to advance technology.
One would think that with all the technological advances that had occurred leading up to the original film, an extra 10 years and more Kaiju organism to test than ever that Earth’s defences would be a bit more…developed.
So it’s round two of the inter-dimensional boxing match. A lot of people were excited to see new designs for the Jaegers, who the new characters were and how the world has developed. The film follows a cardboard girl and Pentecost’s son, neither are important don’t worry. None of the characters in this film are important.
The girl, Amara Namani, and Pentecost cross paths when trying to salvage parts from old Jaegers which leads into a police chase. They’re busted and forced to go to the Jaeger programme because the girl has mad skills with engineering. We find out Pentecost dropped out and decided to become a cliché of someone who couldn’t live up to their father’s name.
When at the base they meet equally uninteresting people. This includes a group of kids who are the future for the programme, I assume. Why they only have a handful is beyond me. And there’s also Scott Eastwood, who is there to contrast the protagonist. The typical training starts, the people you expect to fail do and there are some “motivational” moments.
To go further would be delving into spoilers so you’ve been warned.
A single company has the rights to make more Jaegers but this time round the Jaegers work as drones. This type of plan always ends well. When protecting the UN, the Uprising team come under attack from a more stylish Jaeger, this leads to the death of Mako and ensures the Jaeger drone programme is in full swing.
The new Jaeger originally defeats Pentecost but later they catch up with it and destroy it, because plot device. They discover it’s being controlled by a Kaiju brain, shock horror. So everyone assumes it’s the CEO of the private company. It’s not. When they get back to base more Kaiju-Jaegers attack the base and try to open up the gateway to let Kaiju in.
We find out it’s Charlie all along who was playing Earth, as he is now secretly controlled by the Kaiju as he kept merging with the brain of one. So the heroes have to destroy a load of Kaiju-Jaegers until an override programme nullifies them. At this point some Kaiju have made it in and are heading for Mt. Fuji as the plan all along was to jihad and poison the planet.
So our merry band of heroes goes off to fight them. They have a punch up, there’s a lot of cliché moments which I won’t go into but needless to say they save the day, and with a single casualty I might add. I couldn’t remember who it was because they meant so little to the plot. At the end Pentecost states that next time they’ll be coming to the Kaiju home world to finish the fight. Woo. So now the plot is over what are the bits I liked and bits I didn’t?
Uprising or Obedience?
Well, for the overall film, Uprising presents itself as a shadow of its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong the first film wasn’t a pinnacle of art, but it had interesting ideas and was generally fun and had unique ideas and styles. The entire feature felt butchered by the studio trying to make it as average as possible to get the most money. The artistry and ideas are sacrificed for a younger audience.
While films don’t have to be more adult to be better, in Pacific Rim the violence was comical and visually stylish. But reducing the rating they reduce the blood and overall violence making the whole affair feel a bit out of place. There was no reason for Uprising to be tamed. Even the soundtrack was tamed, with only a resemblance of the motivational riffs form before.
Next we move onto the Kaiju-Jaegers. This was an interesting choice. After seeing what these two titans could do in the first feature it felt it would be hard to upstage. Luckily for them, the studio didn’t even bother. The Jaeger’s are fairly standard, adding no real new weapons or technology.
On the one hand it added something new to the franchise and it meant that the Kaiju didn’t just open another portal. They mixed it up a bit which is good but I had this nagging feeling that they did this to cut back on the blood. It’s also not explained how Charlie was able to keep that many brains let alone get them into so many Jaegers without anybody noticing. Kind of a big hole there guys.
Another pull on the noose that Uprising has hung itself with is through the characters. I don’t know what bothered me more; the dialogue or the acting. The protagonists are even more wooden than the original, none particularly having any depth or even charm. There’s a pretend rivalry between the two men, again. And if one rivalry wasn’t enough the young cadet is bullied by a taller, more aggressive woman until she proves herself, somehow.
Uprising tries to die on the cross of “proving yourself to your parents”. Which is fine, that can work, just not when you have no emotional attachment to the characters. The girl is thrust on us and her exposition is simply put in for emotional manipulation, and Pentecost is only there to have a link to the previous film.
As mentioned earlier, the next instalment promises to take place in the Kaiju home world which I’m all for. This could be visually amazing, a gloriously colourful change from the grey spectrum that Earth is. It’ll just come down to what the studio allows the film to be; whacky and creative or just a cliché trope where another sacrifice will have to be made to make it back to earth.
Overall I’d say the film is a good pass time. If you don’t want anything heavy or if you just need some background noise, this is great. Uprising is probably best described as a hangover movie, it’s safe and predictable with the odd “hmm” moment. Beyond that it doesn’t add anything to the universe or the characters inhabiting it.