The Austin Chronicle

Pacific Rim Uprising

Rated PG-13, 111 min. Directed by Steven S. DeKnight. Starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Tian Jing, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin, Charlie Day.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 23, 2018

Are you looking for some hot Jaeger-on-Jaeger action? Horny Kaiju rising from steamy, lava-encrusted openings deep down in the ultra-wet Pacific ocean? Live! New! Girl! Cadets! John Boyega, maybe? Well then, check out Pacific Rim Uprising’s nonstop mecha-monster action. Guaranteed to satisfy your insatiable hunger for more huge, massive bigness, especially if nonsensical plot devices and wooden line readings are “your thing.”

This sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s kickass paean to Japanese monster vs. robot movies, like Gigantor and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, is utter rubbish compared to its 2013 precursor. Enter with low expectations and you might just have some rock ‘em, sock ‘em, let’s-ravage-Tokyo fun.

Set 10 years after the events depicted in Del Toro’s film, Boyega is Jake Pentecost, the orphaned son of Idris Elba’s planet-saving Stacker Pentecost. As the cities of the world slowly rebuild following the attack by giant monsters from another dimension, Jake spends his days stealing and selling used parts from Jaegers (giant robots controlled by mind-melding human fighters), and living the hustler’s dream in one half of a beachside Santa Monica mansion. (The other half is buried under the skeletal remains of a Kaiju.)

While out searching for thievables one day, he meets cute with 15-year-old tech genius-orphan Amara (Spaeny), who has cobbled together her own small mega-machine, coyly dubbed “Scrapper,” in an abandoned warehouse. There’s trouble afoot at Jaeger HQ, however. A rogue ‘bot is running wild in the streets and it soon becomes apparent that there’s a traitor somewhere. Enter Kaiju, assume battle formations, kill off a lead character from del Toro’s film, and if you don’t know the rest of the story already then this probably isn’t the movie for you.

The Jaeger vs. Jaeger brawls are ripped clean out of Michael Bay’s Transformers mythos and the Kaiju this time around are less awesome in their sheer, towering bizarreness. Boyega and newcomer Spaeny give it their all; but let’s just face the fact that, just like porn, giant monster movies are all about the climax. Pacific Rim Uprising has a doozy of a final melee, but director DeKnight (Daredevil) simply can’t muster much more than an echo of the original’s heart and soul. Genre fans are recommended to sit back and await the release of Michael Dougherty’s forthcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

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