BEIRUT: How does one follow up Guillermo del Toro’s giant robot blockbuster Pacific Rim? The answer: One doesn’t – because no one can execute monster flicks like the Oscar-winning director can.
Pacific Rim 2: Uprising follows Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost’s son Jake Pentecost, played by John Boyega, ten years after the now legendary Battle of the Breach as our planet faces a new threat, this time from one of our own.
Where del Toro’s film had heart, which is arguably the most important element in any narrative, this film falters under the pressures of commercialized sci-fi action film, with minor hoorah moments.
From the get-go, the narrative’s diegesis, a world of the story, feels vastly different than the one set by its predecessor.
Steven S. DeKnight, who took over as director after del Toro stepped down, uses a few stylistic techniques that felt more in line with his work on his series DaVinci’s Demons than they did in the world of Jaegers and Kaijus.
No creative visualization or fight choreography renders this sequel a bit dull.
The original saw fights from below placing the audience literally in the cities below looking up at the titanic jaegers and gave them a weightiness grounding them in a plausible reality.
DeKnight blatantly ignores this and trades it in for saturated colors and eye level battles.
The one good thing it had going for it was the casting of John Boyega, who does his best to ensure the film has a spark of heart within the very shallow and somewhat predictable narrative.
His charisma with his co-stars, including Scott Eastwood who plays Boyega’s brotherly rival Nate Lambert and newcomer Cailee Spaeny who plays a feisty orphaned techie that comes under Boyega’s wing.
The bickering and bantering that occurs between the characters, both as separate duos and the trio, does offer some good on-screen moments but not enough to salvage the massively fragmented parts of the mechanical narrative.
The antagonist flat and by no means threatening, nothing felt that dangerous through the narrative talking about the end of planet Earth should have some effect.
Somehow the jaegars, giant metal robots that are difficult to control and heavy to mechanize, became Transformers merged with the mighty morphin’ power rangers and a touch of plot armor.
The film’s score is rather generic as well.
Lorne Balfe does not offer the grungy and epic score that Ramin Djawadi delivered for the original film.
The worst thing that a sequel can do is be constantly compared to its predecessor – but this is exactly what DeKnight’s abomination forces the viewer to do.
What makes it even worse, is that the film did have all the right elements for a great sequel – yet when unexperienced cadets take the helm sometimes the jaeger is too much to handle.
It won’t be at all surprising when audiences knock this film out of the box office – with rumors already flying regarding it breaking Black Panther records.
According to a recent article DeKnight was quoted saying, "If enough people show up to this, we've already talked about the plot of the third movie, and how the end of the third movie would expand the universe to a Star Wars or Star Trek-style franchise where you can go in many, many different directions.”
We all best hope that that does not happen – but the box office lately will only disappoint and prove otherwise.
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