It’s a safe bet to assume that if you liked the first Pacific Rim movie then you’ll get what you need to from Pacific Rim: Uprising, the big budget monsters vs. robots slugfest that proudly wears its heart on its sleeve. This second movie (of a potential trilogy) takes place around a decade after the epic battle to seal the breach. War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) made the ultimate sacrifice to guarantee the win that day, and now this story picks up with his son Jake Pentecost (John Boyega).
Jake is not like his father, as his voiceover proclaims at the start of the film. The former Jaeger military pilot now makes ends meet selling old Jaeger tech on the black market and bucking responsibility wherever possible. A brush with the law finds him recruited back to the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps by his adopted sister General Secretary Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) so he can avoid jail time. Reunited with an old fr-enemy in the form of Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), the two soldiers must train a new set of recruits to become Jaeger pilots – amongst them orphaned teenager Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). The dawn of a new drone-based defence system has arrived, but before the remote controlled Jaegers can go into action, a mysterious Kaiju attack begins, but with a noticeable difference this time around.
Going heavy on the action and even dabbling in more comedy this time around, Pacific Rim: Uprising is a by-the-numbers genre movie that does frequently entertain. The effects are superb in places and the chemistry generated by the principal cast keeps you invested. This is never truer than in John Boyega’s performance. He is without doubt the shining light of this film, delivering a performance full of style and swagger that marks him out as one of this generation’s best leading men. The second factor that makes the film such an enjoyable watch is Cailee Spaeny. Her rapport with Boyega is superb and gives us a fresh dynamic to get behind. Amara is a fantastic and strong female character – one that could very easily lead this franchise onto new challenges.
Scott Eastwood might not have the acting chops of his dad quite yet, but he does ok here and should have been used more effectively by the script. The comedy double act of Burn Gorman and Charlie Day pick up where they left off from the first film to provide some of the lighter moments. Tian Jing is very good as the head of the shadowy Shao Corporation, who could be involved in some dark and dangerous projects and Jin Zhang is a safe pair of hands as Marshal Quan.
The novelty factor of seeing these giant Jaegers spring into action is always worth the admission price. It might not deliver ground-breaking cinema but it does the basics right to guarantee a decent family night out at the movies. If you like big robots smashing evil creatures then this is for you. If you are expecting anything more, then save your money and go and see something else. On face-value, Pacific Rim: Uprising is a perfectly watchable action film with some good performances thrown in.
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang, Adria Arjona, Rinko Kikuchi Director: Steven S. DeKnight Writer: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin Released By: Universal Certificate: 12A Duration: 111 mins Release Date: 23rd March 2018