PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
A sequel was announced almost immediately after Pacific Rim came out and then floated around for the next few years in various stages of development. Guillermo Del Toro was originally attached to direct but then stepped back to a producing role. The directors chair was inherited by Steven S. DeKnight who had previously worked in television as a story editor on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) and as a producer and occasional writer on Angel (1999-2004), Smallville (2001-11), Dollhouse (2009-10), Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010-15), which he also created, and Daredevil (2015 ). DeKnight has directed several episodes of these shows but makes his feature film debut here.
Pacific Rim wasnt Guillermo Del Toros greatest film but it was a lot of fun. By contrast, Pacific Rim: Uprising drags the same elements out to make a generic sequel. Pacific Rim was carried by an original idea or at least an original presentation of a familiar idea but without such originality or anything new the sequel is simply by the numbers. Where Pacific Rim felt like Del Toro was trying to recreate a big screen version of a 1980s mecha cartoon like Gigantor (1963-6), Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-80) or Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech (1982-3), Pacific Rim: Uprising feels exactly like one of Michael Bays Transformers films construed as a colossal display of mechanised mass destruction put out for our delectation. Dramatically, it feels like no more than a series of special effects scenes in search of a plot. You are left puzzling at the end trying to remember why they had to go to Sydney or Russia the battles so overtake everything that happens that the minimal connecting plotlines are brushed to an irrelevant side. Likewise, the villains scheme to reopen the breach leaves you scratching your head afterwards and trying to figure out what purpose doing so actually served.
Certainly, you have to commend the assorted effects teams as they put on an epically pornographic display of mass destruction with Jaegers beating each other to scrap metal. Theyre clearly competing with Michael Bay, even if this comes out as slightly less spectacular. There is fun to watching the battle through the streets of Sydney; the battle in the snowy Russian wastes; and the climactic efforts to bring down the Super-Kaiju. But for anything beyond that, Pacific Rim: Uprising feels one-dimensional. The cadets in training scenes; the heroic sacrifices, the sparring jibes between rivals that you know are going to become friends are all written to cliche, while the emergence of the villain of the show and their scheme is something that belongs more in a comic-book.
In recent years, the Chinese market has become an all-important one to break in terms of any aspiring international blockbuster. A number of films have sought to play to this either with the addition of scenes shot in China as in Iron Man Three (2013), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) and Now You See Me 2 (2016), or in the writing in of Chinese characters as in Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), Rogue One (2016) and xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017). While one celebrates the idea of diversity, some of these efforts also seem forced in their need to do so Pacific Rim: Uprising not only shoots in China but is also co-produced by China and includes four major Chinese speaking roles.