Review: “Pacific Rim: Uprising” fails in most regards


It’s way too early on a Saturday morning, but you’re already awake. The TV is blaring, and action figures are scattered all over the floor. The ridiculous cereal advertisements and goofy cartoons starring Power Rangers or Transformers rot away at your brain. The drama is contrived, the acting is awful, most of the characters are annoying anyway, but you’re six, and in the end, it’s all about the giant robot fights.

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is just one of those terrible cartoons, translated beat-for-beat to the silver screen.

What made the first “Pacific Rim” great was Guillermo del Toro’s creative vision. Where the first film took all the great aspects of those cartoons, and poked fun at them in all the right ways, Steven S. DeKnight seemed to be completely out of the loop on the joke.

Del Toro’s film paid homage in the right way. It had heart, fun action, cool character designs, and all the characters were perfectly cartoonish. DeKnight instead felt soulless, had bland action and character designs, and took nearly every annoying character trope from those cartoons.

It’s all there; a quippy 13-year-old sidekick, dumb training academy subplot, there’s even a line about a Jaeger’s power-level being too high. The stakes are constantly being raised. The movie screams at the audience, “You thought one Kaiju was scary? What about three? Combined into one massive Kaiju! And they’re part robot now, too!”

But the first “Pacific Rim” was never really about anything other than the Jaeger vs. Kaiju fights. The fights had weight to them, as each punch required a rocket boost to propel it forward. The Jaegers really felt like they were heavy, 20-story, industrial behemoths. “Uprising” completely abandoned that in favor of action similar to that found in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series. Jaegers were sleek, flipping and running around like gymnasts.

“Uprising” peaked in the second fight, each subsequent battle failing to live up to it. The climax fight of the movie felt rushed and was especially disappointing. While most of the fights failed to live up to the first movie’s, there was something nostalgic about seeing giant robots and monsters completely brutalize a densely-populated metropolitan area of Japan, like in classic “Godzilla” movies.

Expectations were low for the acting, but outside of John Boyega, everyone’s acting in “Uprising” was just atrocious. Boyega, as usual, acted well for what he was given. Charlie Day did his best Sam Rockwell impression, and unsurprisingly, Scott Eastwood showcased an acting talent on par with that of a mannequin.

About halfway through the movie, most of the background Jaeger pilots were conveniently killed off to be replaced by a group of terrible (and most likely cheaper-to-pay) teen actors. Rinko Kikuchi, one of the few returning actors from the original, was utterly wasted, only in the movie to remind us that John Boyega was the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first.

Beyond Kikuchi’s return as Mako, as well as Charlie Day and Burn Gorman’s return as the dorky scientists, nothing from the first movie mattered at all in “Uprising”. Boyega being Elba’s son had no effect on the movie outside of his name. The main character of the last, played by Charlie Hunnam, was inexplicably nowhere to be seen, and was only mentioned in a single line. All the rules established in the world of the first film were completely disregarded in favor of lazy writing.

Something that stuck out in “Uprising” was its confused tone. For the most part, it was a “Saturday morning cartoon” movie, with bad, but light-hearted humor. Where the first didn’t linger on how the destruction in the fights affected civilians, “Uprising” blatantly showed hundreds of innocent people killed on screen, not to mention the young Jaeger pilots that were killed without a second thought.

Of all the disappointments in “Pacific Rim: Uprising”, the score was one of the biggest. Ramin Djawadi (composer of “Westworld” and “Game of Thrones”) and Tom Morello (former Rage Against the Machine guitarist) created an epic theme for the first, that was only used in one scene and the end credits of “Uprising”. Beyond that, the new film’s score was lame and forgettable, many of the tracks consisting of a lone, wimpy synth playing on top of a generic string background.

Where “Pacific Rim” was a loving homage to classic Kaiju movies and mech anime, “Uprising” was sterile and completely missed what made the original, and the movies it was based on, great. It’s obvious that it was Guillermo del Toro that made the original any good at all, and the sequel suffered greatly without him in the director’s chair.



– One decent robot fight

– Tom Morello and Ramin Dijawadi’s theme made an appearance


– Awful acting from everyone except Boyega

– Had none of the aspects that made the first enjoyable