According to the Internet, the United States used to have something called the Environmental Protection Agency and when they did tests on new vehicles to establish how much fuel those vehicles would use in city and highway driving, the EPA would employ the disclaimer “Your Mileage May Vary”. This phrase and its initialism, YMMV, has come to us through that very same Internet and it is a short-cut phrase we use to express the idea that, “This was my experience, but yours may be quite different.” Welcome to Accessreel, bringing people together and learning about stuff.
Now, you may have been one of the people who enjoyed the heck out of a movie called PACIFIC RIM that was released in 2013. It was written by Travis Beacham and directed by Guillermo del Toro. The story was quite complex in its details, but basically it was about humanity protecting itself from lethal dinosauric monsters called Kaiju, who emerged through a breach into our dimension at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. In order to defeat these giant, powerful, many-fanged and tentacled nightmare creatures, people built massive humanoid-shaped mecha (i.e. giant robots) called Jaegars, that needed to be controlled by two or three pilots, who were mentally linked. Surprisingly, Jaegar fuel efficiency, in either city or highway conditions, was mostly ignored.
What we did get was many exciting sequences showing Jaegers smashing Kaiju and toppling skyscrapers and other large buildings. For audiences who liked giant combat robots beating down munted-looking, other-dimensional, quasi-dinos, Pac Rim #1 delivered big time. And because the extremely talented Guillermo del Toro was helming that monster flick, there was attention to the kind of story, performance, visual and emotional nuance that other directors might miss. Del Toro’s love for monsters (seen again recently in THE SHAPE OF WATER), and his talent in creating a strange yet believable world that draws in an audience, turned the first PACIFIC RIM into something unexpectedly entertaining.
The sequel, PACIFIC RIM UPRISING doesn’t have del Toro in the director’s chair. What it does have is a story that manages to be once again, overly detailed. It is ten years after the Battle of the Breach and parts of the world have been repaired, but many areas are still suffering from the destruction of the war. There is a fear that the Kaiju will return. There are still Jaegars to protect humanity, but the powerful Shao Corporation is working to create sophisticated and deadly drones to repel any future threats. They are pushing governments to implement their program and it seems there may be a hidden agenda behind the Corporation’s drive to “protect” the world. Far removed from this level of politics is Jake Pentecost (John Boyega). He is the son of Stacker Pentecost. His father became a hero in the War with the Kaiju, but Jake has rejected his past which included a stint as a Jaegar pilot. Through a series of misadventures, he is reluctantly drawn back to the Pan Pacific Defence Corps. This puts him on a collision course with his former co-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood). Also entering the Corps at the same time, is a troubled young recruit with amazing Jaegar engineering talents, Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). Eventually, the tensions between these new Corps members must be put aside when an unexpected danger emerges and threatens the Earth.
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING is more predictable than the first movie. The story is very much by-the-numbers. What it has going for it is loads of action and John Boyega in the lead role. His enthusiasm and charisma are very watchable. (He also took on his first producer role with this movie, so he obviously likes to be busy). Newcomer Spaeny has some good moments, too, although her character is somewhat lost in that teen strata of cadets that the film somehow ignores, despite taking some care to introduce her and them at the beginning. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman reprise their scientist roles from the first film and have fun with their over-the-top characters.
If you want to enjoy a movie that features a great deal of intense Jaegar on Kaiju action, you will find it here. At 1 hour and 51 minutes, this sequel still runs long. There wasn’t enough of the interesting detail of the first film to go this distance. We’re calling PACIFIC RIM: UPRISNG a (6/10) experience, but Your Mileage May Vary.