John Boyega stars as rebelious, Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s character from Pacific Rim training new recuits when the Kaijus return for round two for the planet Earth. Now helmed by Daredevil showrunner, Steven DeKnight, this is one of the most tedious and confused popcorn flicks, even if it surpasses both Independence Day: Resurgence and all the sequels to that other giant robot franchise currently diagnosed with a bleeding box-office. Boyega, like in The Last Jedi, can go the extra mile with the thinnest material, which works even better when bouncing off the new faces in both cases. The star of the show, the CGI, is shot clearly with illuminating colors and not choppily edited in shaky-cam-vision.
But does this want to be a dumb action romp? I don’t know, because there’s a huge attempt to expand the characters, dramatic moments and lore. For example, did you know there’s a group of people that protest for Kaiju rights? As in the giant monsters that were leveling the world to the depths of hell last time? Maybe it’s because the robots cause just as much damage when using buildings and crumpled balls of cars as ammo against the giants. Even Superman had his limits back in Man of Steel. Then again, it’s either that or suffer a shower of dumped exposition from one character to another.
Does it want to be taken seriously? I don’t know, because the jokes and over the top ideas mix with the gritty realism like water and oil set on fire. It can cater to China all it wants, it can make up whatever crazy lore it thinks up. But when it asks you to connect with old and newcomers with serious tension, there might as well be a Tylenol dispenser next to the exit on the way out from the boring conversations and the overly long action. Yes, as good as the action is, there’s only so many times a robot with saw blade swords can practice his fire-fencing before it becomes an earthquake for the brain.
Pacific Rim Uprising, to its credit, tries to do things differently. The visible action with the Kaijus and new cast bring a lot of charm, wit and bombastic set pieces. But the tonal confusion put it in a state of jeopardy in its identity. The first film isn’t flawless, but it did have a grander scale than this. Perhaps it was bound to happen when a film that’s not supposed to be taken seriously gets a sequel and has to bring more than just the same formula. Hurricane Heist would probably go the same route. However for all the venting, it’s a unwritten rule to NOT see these towering creatures on your cabinet sized television while there’s still time.