As amazing a film maker Guillermo Del Toro may be, the first Pacific Rim movie was lacklustre at best. With great visuals, awe-inspiring scale of sequence, and a potentially deep mythology, the film ultimately lacked a proper narrative or characters that emerged from the realms of being tropes.
Nevertheless, a franchise by the man who has brought us Pan’s Labyrinth, and the two Hellboy flicks is of no dismissive factor and deserves to be given a second chance.
Unfortunately, that second chance goes on to make almost every one of the first movie’s mistakes as well. Furthermore, beyond world and terms, the sequels carries almost nothing similar to the first. Even the all-important ‘drift compatibility’—a significant plot point in the first movie—is hardly of any importance here.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad movie or that it’s worse off than the first—they’re just very different movies which, unfortunately, fail to live up to potential.
That being said, a lot of the movie’s strong points are caused by the big issue of being almost unconnected to the first.
For example, the lack of a hang up on the technicalities behind piloting one of the giant robots (called Jaegers) allows for ease in introducing new characters without the recurring sub-plot of ‘drift compatibility.’
Similarly, the time not spent on exposition about the robots and kaiju allows for more character interaction actually involving their personalities as opposed to the first movie’s repetitive argument regarding who pilots what and with whom.
Ultimately, Pacific Rim: Uprising still successfully fulfils the purpose of it predecessor: functioning as a love letter to one of film’s greatest genres.
Much like how the original was a homage to the original kaiju/mecha films of the past, Uprising pays tribute to the next generation, the more modern era of Super Senates and so on. This is especially obvious when you notice how the script serves functionally as a feature length version of a Power Ranger film, right down to the corny, semi-comedic villain.
Steven DeKnight’s freshness is especially obvious, dancing between varying directorial styles reminiscent of the first movie as much as Transformers or The Avengers.
As jarring as the stylistic differences are, they also contribute to keeping different parts of the movie fresh.
Ultimately, love it or hate it, Pacific Rim: Uprising—much like the first—is sheer popcorn entertainment and deserves a watch on the big screens.