Little sequel value in 'Pacific Rim Uprising'
It's hard not to get giddy at a sequel. The promise of new material in a world you came to know and love is an exciting prospect. It can also be worrying. Yes, the world of Pacific Rim, one where humanity's last line of defence against an invasion of gargantuan creatures - a squadron of equally gargantuan robots - is an intriguing one. It is also one which I felt needed no expansion. After the first film's rather conclusive ending, the idea of Pacific Rim Uprising, a film which takes place 10 years after the events of the first movie, seemed unnecessary at best.
After seeing the final product, I can't say my initial apprehension was wrong. While the film isn't terrible by its own right, it feels remarkably lacklustre when compared to its predecessor. What is still memorable about that 2013 film is the way several of its elements felt cohesive and sensible. It was a ridiculous premise, but it demanded to be taken seriously. Everything that is wrong with this sequel can be seen in what was so right in the first film.
Pacific Rim understood the benefits of paying respect to scale. The size and weight of the enormous creatures that filled the silver screen was felt, with every Godzilla-esque stomp. With 'Uprising', the robots and monsters are often seen from a distance, feeling more like toys in a city-shaped playroom than skyscraper sized beasts. If your movie is predicated on bigger being better, that's probably a bad sign.
Boyega Almost Saves the Film
Still Pacific Rim Uprising does feel like an expansion on the first film, especially through its cast. John Boyega of Star Wars: The Force Awakens plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba's Stacker Pentecost from the first movie. Boyega almost saves the film, and gives it a strong emotional root, but when the film is constantly undercutting itself with awkward humour, subplots that go nowhere and fight scenes with little to no depth (both literally and figuratively), it can be hard to recommend. I'd say catch it on cable, only because as disappointing a sequel as it is, it has a few fight scenes worth seeing, just for the creativity behind them.