By Robert Yocum
The Random Rental Review is an idea I had a while back. There is not nearly enough time to consume all the media we wish to these days. Between work, sleep, and the rest of life there is really a small amount of time that we have to do the things that we want. I love movies, because of how they can teleport you into another world and make the rest of everything disappear for 2 hours. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of movies I have seen in my lifetime, but if I found out it was over 1000 I would not be shocked. So this series I am going to be doing reviews on movies that I was somewhat interested in seeing, but never got to watch them in the theatre. My biggest issue with going to the theatre is not spending 90 minutes to 2 hours watching the movie, it is being forced to sit through 30 to 45 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie even starts. Unless the movie is a major “must see” blockbuster, I am more than willing to wait. So with that said, here is my Rental Review of Pacific Rim: Uprising.
I was hesitant to see this movie in theatres for two reasons. First off I loved, absolutely loved, the first movie. It was a stunning masterpiece in terms of the visuals, the understanding of the art department of how to make monsters feasible in their physical makeup, and it’s proof positive that the between the Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, BAFTAS, and other awards, the fact that Guillermo Del Toro doesn’t have 500 awards in his house is a complete shame. I also love this movie for what it wasn’t. In terms of a movie experience, it was a palate cleanser. There were no heavy moral or ethical decisions to be made. They didn’t shoehorn in a romance plot where it clearly wasn’t needed. There wasn’t any writers or directors or producers that felt the need to insert their blatant, and barely if ever, veiled political stance on some current issue. No, the first movie was pure in its intent. It wanted nothing more than to be a movie for your inner 9-year old that wanted nothing more than to see a giant robot punch a monster IN THE FACE. And in that, it succeeded far better than anyone would have expected to.
The second reason I almost didn’t see this movie is that it falls into what I call the “Next Generation” category of movies. These are movies that either take place a good 20 to 30 years after the original was made, or the actors are meant to be the children of the main actors in the first movie. It could be good in the sense that it could be a respectable passing of the torch (Creed), or far better than it had any right to be (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). Sadly it could also either be clear that the people involved had no idea about the source material (Tron: Legacy), or a complete and utter shitshow (Independence Day: Resurgence). You never really know which one of those movies you are going to get. Happily, while Pacific Rim: Uprising isn’t perfect; it succeeds more than it fails. So here is my SEMI-SPOILER review of the movie.
The movie itself takes place 10 years after the end of Pacific Rim where the Jaeger pilots managed to seal the rift. Life goes on but hasn’t recovered. Most of the world is still trying to rebuild from the damage caused by the Kaiju. The industry is pretty much at a standstill, most of the world economy has devolved into a barter system where items such as familiar snack items have the highest value. The main protagonist is Jake Pentecost played by John Boyega. He is the son of Stacker Pentecost who was played by Idris Elba. Jake makes his living as a scrapper; he finds valuable parts from broken Jaegers and sells them on the black market. He gets into trouble selling these parts and is given a choice. He can either go to jail or back into the Jaeger training program. While in the program we are introduced to various candidates and the Shao Corporation, a company that is developing drones to fight any potential future Kaiju threat while eliminating the need for the Jeagers to be piloted by two people that have to have drift compatibility. During the training, an unknown Jaeger appears, and this sets off the main plot. Where did the Jaeger come from, who built it, who is operating it, and what are the plans of the people behind it all? Throughout the movie there are some plot points that are can be seen a mile away, and some that genuinely took me by surprise.
Past the main story, there were a lot of things unsaid to avoid plot holes, but they were still there. Probably my biggest issue with the movie is that they added two things they didn’t have in the first one. A blatant political stance and a shoehorned-in love plot. They weren’t bad per say, but it just wasn’t done well. I don’t mind politics in movies. For a movie example, District 9 has several political themes, but they are fairly neutral in their presentation, and they don’t really take a side either way. For Television, the show “The Orville” does have multiple political stances between the various episodes, but they never give off the vibe (at least to me) that you are somehow “wrong” for thinking the opposite of what is being shown. Now, getting back to the point, for the movie, it’s not that what is being presented is bad, it’s just generic. I’ve seen some of the themes done better in more original ways before.
In the end, this was a movie that I am glad I watched, but I don’t think they need to make a third movie, even though they left that as a blatant option at the end credit scene. There are some decent actors in the movie. If asked to rate it, I would give it a solid C+.