Are you looking for a spoiler-free review of Pacific Rim Uprising? We’ve got you covered.
There are two sections in this review. One with no spoilers and one with minor spoilers. There will be ample warning before the minor spoilers section. So you don’t need to worry about seeing something you shouldn’t. But there will be spoilers from the first movie though. You’ve been warned.
Title: Pacific Rim Uprising
Released: March 23, 2018
Runtime: 111 Minutes
Directed By: Steven S. DeKnight
Written By: Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S. DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin
Charlie Day? Most definitely.
No Spoilers Review of Pacific Rim Uprising
Let me break it down for you real simple. If you liked the first movie, Pacific Rim (2013), then you will probably enjoy this one. If you didn’t like the first one, then you probably won’t like Pacific Rim Uprising either.
That is because both movies are scratching that same itch. Pacific Rim is basically Halo meets Cloverfield. Starship Troopers meets Godzilla. Ender’s Game meets Attack on Titan. War of the Worlds meets Get Schwifty.
The plot goes something like this: Humanity has been brought to the edge of destruction. Earth is being invaded by a vastly superior alien force. And it is up to some heroic warriors to fight them off – at incredible odds and with great sacrifice to themselves.
It’s a formula that just works. Ask Independence Day.
I know it’s formulaic. I don’t care. I still like it.
And that is why I absolutely loved the first Pacific Rim movie. It just delivered on all fronts.
The world was immersive and felt real. It focused on characters who had thoughtful motivations and back stories. There was real death and real suffering. I felt like these people were acting like real humans would. Uniting to fight the invader. Focusing on survival first. But also suffering from the crippling fear that they might all die very soon.
But anyone who watched Starship Troopers 2 will tell you just how bad the sequel to a great movie can be. With Pacific Rim Uprising, there’s even more reason to be doubtful because this time around it isn’t the same director and it isn’t even the same writer.
The good news is that this movie is every bit as deep and thoughtful as the first.
The graphics are on par with the first movie, with plenty of fights that feature toppling buildings and improvised weaponry.
The mechs, of course, look spectacular. As they do.
It was a strong movie and every bit as entertaining as Pacific Rim. But entertainment value isn’t everything. Pacific Rim Uprising does not have the same level of depth as the first movie, and the climax does not land quite so powerfully. It is, however, true to its roots and honors the world and groundwork that was laid in Pacific Rim. If you like the alien invasion genre then you’ll probably like this movie, but if you like the kaiju genre, then it is almost certain that you’ll find a lot to love about Pacific Rim Uprising.
3D or Naw
I watched the movie in RealD 3D. It was beautiful but not exceptional 3D. I left wondering what the 2D experience was like.
DBox or Naw
If you can watch Pacific Rim Uprising in DBox then do it. DBox is a moving chair that is designed to help you feel the movie. It’s really fun. I’ve watched nearly a dozen movies in DBox seating, and Pacific Rim Uprising was clearly the best. Stephanie really enjoyed it as well, despite having soured on DBox after the last few movies. Warning – DBox is expensive. After taxes and fees we paid $25 per seat. Ouch.
Minor Spoilers Review of Pacific Rim Uprising
What I liked about Pacific Rim Uprising
At the beginning of the movie, we meet a girl named Amara who has constructed her own “small” Jaeger from scrap parts. We come to learn that she was orphaned as a young girl in a surprise kaiju attack. Desperately hating the kaiju and refusing to be caught powerless again, Amara used all her wherewithal to prepare. This is the essence of the human spirit. To persist in the face of absolute doom. To try and to hope.
When Amara comes to the military base, she names all the Jaegers she sees and admires them as if they were her heroes. Because they ARE her heroes. In a post-apocalyptic society, completely dominated by war and survival – it is the military geniuses that are the celebrities. Forget Michael Jordan or Tom Brady – in this world it is those who sacrifice themselves for the betterment of humanity that get the place of honor. I appreciate that.
This movie, in many ways, idealizes humanity in the right ways. Like the nations in Independence Day, the Pacific Rim world is full of people who are able to set aside their national differences and focus on the existential threat. The greatest engineers in the world coupled with all the resources of humanity – all for the purpose of defending our species. In the first movie as in this one, we watch as Jaeger operators and support staff alike are willing to put their lives on the line and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Not for some pie-in-the-sky notions of their nation or their cause – but for something we can all objectively appreciate; human life itself.
The final scene of this movie ties it all together in a wonderful way. Pragmatism has been the hallmark of this post-apocalyptic humanity; every action and effort focused on achieving survival. But once the kaiju is defeated, the kids get out of the Jaeger and play in the snow. Embracing levity when it is appropriate. They haven’t lost sight of their humanity. They had their priorities right – to survive first and to play later. It is a powerful image of balance that gets lost in today’s heavy handed moralizing about the evils of utilitarianism that is so prevalent in some other films.
What I didn’t like about Pacific Rim Uprising
But this movie wasn’t without faults. For starters, robot sword battles make no sense. Swords are effective against people only because people aren’t made of metal. My biggest criticism of the first movie was that they didn’t use the sword until the end. My biggest criticism of this movie is the denial of physics that shows these massive swords somehow not shattering when used against other jaegers.
I felt like the protagonist was far too similar to the protagonist of the first movie. A guy with massive talent but issues that cause him to not be interested in piloting anymore. I feel they could have crafted a more creative story in this regard.
Another blatant mistake that IGN pointed out is that Scrapper arriving in Tokyo in the final battle seems not to make sense in this universe. A whole plot line was established about how they could not ship the jaegers to Tokyo in time to stop the kaiju, so they had to use experimental rocket tech. But this is immediately contradicted when Scrapper flies in just minutes later using the standard methods.
This movie lacked the stakes that the first Pacific Rim provided, denying us the hero-dies-to-save-everyone trope that I love. But it delivered in other ways by continuing the story in a believable way and making constant references to the characters of the first movie. With a fairly unknown cast of actors, the movie never felt cheap or rushed. It was a quality story told well. It may lack the rewatch-ability to the first Pacific Rim, but is certainly good for at least one viewing.