Del reviews ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” Starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood and Cailee Spaeny. Directed by Steven S. DeKnight. 111 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Del’s take

I had great hopes for the original “Pacific Rim” and came away greatly disappointed, so my expectations of “Pacific Rim: Uprising” were minimal. But what the hell. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon and while I had a crap-ton of stuff that needed doing, I didn’t feel like doing any of it. “Uprising” it was.

And hey, guess what? It didn’t suck as bad as I thought it would. Let’s face it: You don’t go to a “Transformers” or “Pacific Rim” movie for the social commentary or existential angst. You go to see giant monsters and robots beat the shit out of each other, destroying cities in the process. In that meager capacity “Uprising” did not disappoint.

The movie stars John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from the original movie. Stacker was the marshal of the Jaeger corps, giant robots built to defend humanity from the Kaiju, equally giant monsters from another dimension that entered this world through a breach in the Pacific Ocean floor. Stacker is revered for his role in sealing the breach and saving the world.

Jake, once a promising Jaeger pilot himself, has given up his career to become a petty criminal. During a theft gone wrong he meets young Amara Namani (Spaeny), who has built her own Jaeger called Scrapper. Because it is against the law to own unregistered Jaegers, Amara and Jake are hauled in by the authorities. Instead of being jailed they’re sent to the Jaeger corps, where Jake is to resume his old job and Amara becomes a cadet.

The Shao Corporation has a plan to replace Jaegers with huge, robotic drones, and I won’t say any more about that because it would spoil the movie for you. Suffice it to say “Uprising” becomes more action-oriented with the second act and continues through the third.

John Boyega does a good job with his role and shows he can act outside of “Star Wars.” He manages to bring a little more oomph to his role, which is saddled with clichés. I last saw Scott Eastwood in “The Fate of the Furious” and he was about as wooden as a ventriloquist’s dummy. His acting has improved and at times he seems almost human, so there’s hope. Spaeny is a natural for the screen. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of her in the future.

I think this movie was better written than the original. The dialogue was an improvement. It didn’t strike me as silly and fanboyish as del Torro’s script.

The flaws? I’m sure there were plenty. The premise itself is the biggest flaw of all. But I turned off that part of my brain before I walked into the theater. Again, you don’t watch a “Transformers” or “Pacific Rim” to appreciate the logic or scientific accuracy. The movie panders to a Chinese audience so if you have a problem with that, be prepared.

“Uprising” sets up a sequel, and I initially thought that wouldn’t happen until I checked the overseas grosses. Domestically it has earned just south of $60 million, with a budget of $150 million. But worldwide? A whopping $275 million for a $333 million cume, so I guess we can expect a “Pacific Rim: Domination.” Way to go, Chinese audience.

Don’t get me wrong: “Uprising” is an entertaining and even fun movie if your expectations aren’t too high. But don’t expect much in the way of depth.

I give it a B-.

Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.