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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ is basically Transformers of the Sea

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Do you enjoy robots? Have a soft spot for scary looking sea creatures and delight in a good old-fashioned fistfight?

Boy oh boy, do I have a movie for you.

The original Pacific Rim (released in 2013) had both mediocre critical and financial success in North America but it did very well overseas, where it became (at the time) the 6th highest grossing American movie in China. So obviously, it got a sequel.

In Pacific Rim: Uprising we pick up with the story ten years later. The Kaiju (giant, scary sea monsters sent by aliens to destroy the earth) were defeated in the original film by the Jaegers (giant robots created by earthlings to fight the Kaiju) and the world has been rebuilding ever since.

Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) son of legendary jaeger fighter Staker Pentecost (Idris Elba in the previous film) spends his days partying, stealing and bartering with underworld bad guys until he meets a jaeger groupie in the form of a street urchin named Amara (Cailee Spaeny).

After they land themselves in hot water, Jake’s adopted big sister Mako Pentecost (Rinko Kikuchi) pulls some strings to have them assigned to the jaeger-training program instead of jail.

Jaegers – which are basically just transformers that don’t transform – have to be piloted by two humans at once who share a neural handshake, which basically melds their minds – this secret handshake obviously requires a lengthy training process.

Does your head hurt yet?  It could be a neural handshake or it could be this inane plot – hard to tell.  Conveniently enough for people studying how to pilot giant robots, the sea creatures they were built to fight come back to earth, hell bent on destruction once again!

Jake, Amara and Ranger Nate (played by Scott Eastwood playing a character virtually identical to the character he played in Suicide Squad and Fate and the Furious) are ready to save humanity!

Robot vs. Sea Creature fistfights ensue!

In my opinion, the failure of Pacific Rim: Uprising is attributable to major mistakes. Like so many “save the world” movies its spend much time screaming about saving humanity but never seems to realize they’ve sacrificed all humanity for special effects.

It’s nearly impossible to become invested in the wellbeing of a robot (Wall-E and co. an obvious exception).  It’s equally impossible to become invested in characters whose character development is limited to knowing their name and the fact they hate sea monsters.

Films that want us to root for heroes who are allegedly ready to sacrifice themselves for the greater good need to give us something to root for beyond a name!

Sacrifice one, two or ten of the robots-punch-skyscrapers scenes for human interaction and let’s see what kind of a movie we have then.

The second mistake is the movie squanders the talent of lead John Boyega. Best known as Finn in the latest Star Wars trilogy, Boyega is a charismatic and talented actor (check out his beautiful performance in Detroit for more proof) who is given nothing to do but fall victim to a stereotypical bad-boy-turned-hero character we’ve seen over and over again.

The charm and wit he manages to imbue Jake with is the saving grace of an otherwise charmless film.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is basically Transformers of the Sea. If that idea thrills you, please enjoy the movie.

For the rest of us, feel confident in sitting this one out.

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia

 

 

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