By: Jonathan Pabico
If you have to watch one action film before summer break begins, I highly recommend Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising. DeKnight ups the ante as director, surpassing the previous film, Pacific Rim, which was directed by Guillermo del Toro. This sequel is a breath of fresh air with its vibrant visuals, fast-paced perils, and thrilling spectacles. With cooler giant robots (Jaegers) and more deadly alien monsters (Kaiju), the film is a fitting new instalment to an enthralling franchise.
The film’s stylized action scenes are relentless and pure fun from beginning to end. Backed by breathtaking visuals and elevated by a powerful soundtrack, these action scenes redefine colossal — especially during the film’s final fight. The movie’s fierce and frenetic bouts get better, and there is never a dull moment. Every Jaeger’s use of their unique weapons and sophisticated designs adds to the inventive quality of the movie’s action. With ruined cityscapes as an intense battleground, the film offers satisfying, but brutal grudge matches between the film’s Jaegers and Kaiju.
However, DeKnight crafts this film as more than just destructive fights between giant robots and alien beasts. Behind the action extravaganzas are the underlying themes of corporate interests, militarism, the consequences of war, and the long-term impacts of loss, that drive the narrative. DeKnight also shapes Pacific Rim Uprising as a coming-of-age story by focusing on growth as the movie’s central theme. He offers an Ender’s Game appeal through the film’s teenage characters that strive to become the world’s future saviours.
The movie’s only flaw is the absence of Charlie Hunnam, which creates a void in this sequel. However, John Boyega (best known for Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is superb as the film’s newest lead. Portraying Jake Pentecost — son of Stacker Pentecost from the first movie — Boyega’s performance is more than enough to compensate for Hunnam’s absence. He embodies DeKnight’s theme of growth by portraying his character as a rugged youngster, alienated from his family, but eventually becomes an aspiring Jaeger pilot in a war-torn world.
Boyega also has great repartee with the film’s cast. He and Scott Eastwood have a comical, but mild rivalry as the film’s main Jaeger pilots. However, Boyega’s sibling-like relationship with newcomer Cailee Spaeny is more amusing and provides the story with energetic heart. If that’s not enough, Rinko Kikuchi is back as Mako. While Kikuchi’s role is minimal in this movie, she portrays a matured Mako, and her brief scenes with Boyega evoke a relatable family dynamic that humanizes them as more than just characters raised in a world of iconic robots and monsters. With believable characters and a commanding cast, Pacific Rim Uprising is a bold, entertaining sequel.