Review: 'Pacific Rim Uprising' Doesn't Live Up to the Original

Annie Lindenberg ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
While the original Pacific Rim held some sort of magic between the monsters and the robots, with the character connections and growth, its second installment, Pacific Rim Uprising is reaching for the same notability without any foundation to make it possible.
Pacific Rim Uprising centers on Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), a once-promising Jaeger pilot who is the son of the late Stacker Pentecost—fans of the original will remember him played by the dashing Idris Elba. Jake’s father gave his life to save humanity in the original film, but in the ten years since, Jake has given up his training and his family legacy for the sake of a simpler life in the criminal underworld. That is until his illegal acts get him caught and his sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) allows him his freedom if he comes back to the cause. As a threat even bigger than the last hits, Jake must rise to the occasion to save humanity once again with the help of young pilots he has trained himself.

John Boyega in Pacific Rim Uprising. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
The film attempts to be many things—comedic, romantic, adventurous—and yet it is within this attempt to balance all the things it wants to be that it fails to be anything much at all. Most of the jokes fall flat, and the action is loud and colorful in a way that resembles Transformers more than it does Uprising’s predecessor. While Pacific Rim became a fan favorite due to its ability to foster human connection in a robotic and often hopeless world, Uprising simply feels robotic. There seems to be a clear disconnect between the story and the audience.
Most of the success of Uprising at all comes from the crutch of the original Pacific Rim. It is from the veteran actors like Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, and Kikuchi who brought the film to life. Without these actors, the film would have felt too starkly different from the original to feel cohesive. The film’s desire to lean on the original and simultaneously prop itself up for the next installment creates a strange middle ground that leaves the movie unable to stand on its own.
Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim Uprising. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
While newcomer actor Cailee Spaeny, who plays Amara—the teenage orphan with a knack for Jaeger tech—shows promise, her role overall felt jumbled in with the mix of other characters arcs. There wasn’t enough time to fully see her flourish in her role. Simultaneously, John Boyega is the shining star of the film. His acting is at times both heart wrenching and other times the right touch comedic. Despite his best efforts, though, his acting chops weren’t enough to hold the chaos of the story together.
Overall, Pacific Rim Uprising tries to wear too many hats at once. In the end, in its attempt to pander to everyone, it loses any sense of originality or charm. While Uprising is a fun watch, specifically for lovers of Pacific Rim, being fun is, unfortunately, not enough to warrant praise.
Overall Grade: C
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