Five years ago, Pacific Rim opened to mixed reviews and a mediocre box office. A sequel didn’t seem likely but thanks to healthy receipts in China, here we have Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising. While its predecessor has settled into a positive pop cultural resonance – the kind of film that everyone feels like they like more than everyone else – Uprising is, sadly, sure to be swiftly forgotten.
This is a sequel very much in the vein of a couple decades prior; half the original characters have been ditched (and, outside of Charlie Day’s mad scientist, few returning characters have any impact). The returning characters are thinly sketched – John Boyega’s a rogue one second, an inspirational hero pilot the next – and so too is the paper-thin plotline, cobbled together from a series of failed first drafts. This is primarily a transparent pitch for Chinese audiences, right down to niche jokes about the pronunciation of Mandarin.
The important question is: don’t big robots and monsters punch one another? Well, yes. The film’s action sequences are colourful, well-crafted and legitimately impressive, if a shadow of the original film. But without enough character or comedy behind the gargantuan fisticuffs, it’s all a bit disappointing.