by Peter Niverth ’18
“Pacific Rim: Uprising” has one of the most exciting plots possible (despite being overdone) in a film: giant robots fighting even bigger alien monsters with enormous guns and huge swords. It’s any science-fiction nerd’s dream. Yet, the film falls short of these dreams by focusing more on the characters rather than the robots.
“Pacific Rim: Uprising” takes place 10 years after the events of “Pacific Rim,” the first of the two movies. The world is one where monstrous aliens known as Kaiju exist solely to conquer the Earth for its resources. However, the Earth fights back in the only logical manner, with Jaegers, which are giant two-manned killer robots with lasers, swords, and whatever else can be welded on and used to kill.
“Uprising” begins in a peaceful world still picking up the pieces left by the victorious planet Earth from the first movie. But with great peace comes great boredom. Rather than the action
of Jaegers kicking Kaijus in the face from the first film, “Uprising” consists of solely character development until the last 30 minutes of the movie.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to make well-developed characters. The playful banter between the two protagonists, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost, a war hero from the original movie, and Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), a young orphan girl who built her own Jaeger, set up a older brother and kid sister dynamic that made them instantly likable. Not to mention both had a knack for witty comebacks and one liners.
Yet fans do not need to see relationships develop between Amari and her fellow cadets Suresh (Karan Brar), Jinhai (Wesley Wong), Viktoria (Ivanna Sakhno), Ryoichi (Mackenyu), and Meilin (Lily Ji) as they all trained to become future Jaeger pilots. Neither did Jake’s struggle with living up to his father’s heroic acts in the first war or his strained friendship with fellow pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
It took almost two-thirds of the film’s 110-minute run time to finally get to the actual fighting between Jaegers and Kaijus. By the time the robots were dusted off and kaijus were storming cities, the movie felt like it would only be about preparing to fight rather than actually doing it. But when it finally happens, all is almost forgiven.
Three enormous Kaiju take on the combined efforts of four Jaegers in a battle that levels every building in sight and causes explosions at each possible instance. And the CGI used during the action was scarily realistic, adding to the feeling of excitement that can only be given by robots with swords.
Despite taking what felt like several years to get to them, the action sequences in “Pacific Rim: Uprising” nearly makes up for the previous hour of character development. Film goers will leave the theater remembering “Uprising’s” second act while forgetting the first.