Movie Review – Pacific Rim: Uprising

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I loved the first Pacific Rim. (PR1) Okay, to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about it right off the bat, but it did grow on me. I’ve probably rewatched it a dozen times, here and there, over the years. It’s a great movie to have on in the background while working.

Obviously, I was really looking forward to Pacific Rim: Uprising. (PR2) My first impression is that it isn’t as enjoyable as PR1. Here’s why: the action just doesn’t have the wow factor of the original. I think it’s because the POV feels farther away from the action, and there wasn’t enough slow motion. That’s a little surprising, because I was blown away by the previews.

The other aspect of the movie that feels slightly disappointing is the character relationships. The character dynamics of PR1 proved really effective. The Raleigh/Mako relationship was done really well. They start out as vaguely antagonistic, but eventually show each other their vulnerabilities, and then only at the end does it become something romantic. The writers struck a really good balance creating the relationship, without distracting from what the movie was really about: a showcase for skyscraper robots to fight huge space aliens. Then, the dynamic between scientists Herman and Newt was really quirky, and brought most of the laughs in the movie. I could go on, but all of the character dynamics really meshed together perfectly in PR1.

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But there’s really none of that in PR2. They tried, but just didn’t get there. I don’t think it’s all on the actors. Overall, I think they did a good job. But the story and dialog just don’t present the right balance. For instance there’s the failed attempt to have some sort of big/little sister rivalry between Viktoria and Amara. That was just a complete waste of time. In fact, all of the cadets were pretty much a waste of time. Their characters should have either been more prominent, or they should have been written out of the story.

Where PR2 gets it right is the plot. Let’s face it: the plot in PR1 was crazy ridiculous, to the point of being a farce. But they didn’t dwell on it, and more than made up for it by presenting fight scenes that puts the best of Transformers and Godzilla to shame. PR2 actually nails the plot. It makes complete sense and fits perfectly in the existing story framework.

It is painfully obvious that this is intended to be a trilogy. Let’s hope that PR2 goes down as the “slight disappointment” between some epic and awesome movies.

Grade: B-

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