Pacific Rim Uprising follows a rebellious former Jaeger pilot, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), living in a futuristic, post-war world. The epic war and subject of the first film Pacific Rim was between the antagonistic alien Kaiju monsters and human-piloted super-robots of earth known as Jaegers.
After being arrested with a 15-year-old Jaeger hacker named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) for stealing and selling Jaeger parts on the black market, Jake is given a choice to serve the Earth’s defence force or go to prison. Jake and Amara go to pilot school where they meet a host of eager recruits as well as their superior, pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
At the same time, we are introduced to a mysterious organization by the name of Shao Industries that is in the business of mass-producing drones that threaten the existence of the human “Jaeger program.” Notable employees of Shao Industries include the comic relief of Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). Watching Charlie Day attempt to speak Mandarin is funnier than any of the scripted jokes. The subject of the second half of the film includes the emergence of an unstoppable threat that only the Jaeger pilots can stop.
Improvements from the first film include the use of novel weapons such as a chainsaw of fire that cuts a building in half, as well as more engaging fight scenes that create a uniquely intimate experience of combat.
Giant metallic Jaegers are struck by holographic missiles that the pilots on the inside (as well as the audience) can sense. You can feel the blows and the multiple decapitations. Director Steven S. DeKnight made a point that he wanted to “take the outside [robot scenes] and make it interact with the inside [human pilot scenes].” He made a good decision here. The robot (Jaeger) fight scenes are an extension of the fighting human soul within them. To focus on the interactive, intimate combat experience adds authenticity.
Speaking of human pilots, John Boyega played the lead role with the same talent and confidence seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but his chemistry with some characters was vestigial. For example, the relationship between his character and his protégé, Amara, was awkward and flat at times. However, his chemistry with Scott Eastwood was fantastic. Their combined level of testosterone enhanced some spectacular fight scenes. Their banter was also entertaining.
From DJ Shadow’s “Nobody Speak” to Leon Bridges’ “Better Man,” the limited number of tracks were good, but could have been improved upon. Using some more original tracks in addition to a more creative score might have boosted the already heightened adrenaline rush that peaks in the second half of the film.
Overall, this is a feel-good action flick with upgraded brawling. Blow off some steam and feel like you can save the world with your fists, and a few cool new weapons from within a super-robot Jaeger. Shao Industries have not succeeded yet! There is still a need and appreciation for the art of combat powered by humans. ~Ari Derin
The Blu-ray is packed with several bonus features:
*Hall of Heroes – John Boyega explains the new weaponry and improvements of the Jaegers seen in the film.
*Bridge to Uprising: The cast and crew speak to the changing world of Pacific Rim and the 10 year gap between the events of the first film and the sequel in the series.
*The Underworld of Uprising: The “Relief Zones” are discussed by John Boyega and Steven S. DeKnight.
*Becoming Cadets: The cast of cadets talk about what it takes to physically and mentally train for their roles.
*Unexpected Villain: The reason why one of the heroes of the original film turned into a villain is revealed.
*Next Level Jaegers: The cast and crew discuss the technological advances of the Jaeger program.
*I Am Scrapper: On Location – Cailee Spaeny talks about Scrapper and its backstory.
*Going Mega: The technical and creative challenges of creating the Mega Kaiju is discussed.
*Secrets of Shao: Tian Jing discusses what it was like to play Liwen Shao, the intimidating head of Shao Industries.
*Mako Returns: Rinko Kikuchi and Steven S. DeKnight discuss why Mako Mori’s return is critical to the plot of Pacific Rim Uprising.
*Deleted Scenes & Director Commentary