Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 3/24/18
Executive Producer: Guillermo del Toro
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Rinko Kikuchi

AMAZING. The film gets off to a rough start with a regrettably awful opening set piece, but once the giant robot action kicks in, it's sheer, unrestrained joy. Ten years after the Kaiju War in "Pacific Rim" (2013), Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) gets busted for stealing parts from decommissioned Jaegers. His sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) manages to bail him out on the condition that he trains a group of young Jaeger pilot cadets, including a spunky fifteen year old street rat named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). However, his efforts may be for naught, as an ambitious scientist named Liwen Shao (Tian Jing) is building an army of remote piloted Jaegers that don't require the same rigorous training and mental compatibility that traditional pilots do. Not surprisingly, her new drones go haywire and open a breach that allows some nasty Kaiju to show up and trash Tokyo. This puts Jake and his cadets back in the action, and they have to stop the rampaging Kaiju before they destroy the world.

Much like the original film, it's really just an excuse to see some giant robots battling monsters and other giant robots, and I'm totally okay with that. While it definitely stumbles in places, in many ways it surpasses the original. John Boyega is a much more charismatic lead than Charlie Hunnam, and Scott Eastwood makes an excellent rival. Cailee Spaeny is AWESOME and steals every scene that she's in. She has a bright future ahead of her. Tian Jing is also a scene stealer as the cold and cunning Shao, but there's more to her than just a hard and glamorous exterior. It's great to see Rinko Kikuchi return as Mako, although she only has a small role. It's also nice to see Burn Gorman and Charlie Day return, and their characters are much more serious and subdued this time around. That's probably the biggest difference with this film compared to the original. It's much more straight forward and the campy goofiness that nearly spoiled the original is thankfully absent. The supporting characters are interesting and engaging, and the bold and heroic soundtrack is also a lot better. The story is actually surprisingly good and has a nice twist on who the real enemies are. As you would expect, the visual effects are incredible, and the scenes of mass destruction are simply astonishing. Both the Jaegers and the Kaiju express a convincing sense of mass and movement, and the whole film just looks fantastic. Once you get past the awkward beginning, fans of the original are sure to be pleased.