Pacific Rim: Uprising


Giant robots are inherently cool.

(2018) Science Fiction (Universal) John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorham, Charlie Day, Jing Tian, Max Zhang, Rinko Kikuchi, Karan Brar, Wesley Wong, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez, Rahart Adams, Levi Meaden, Dustin Clare, Chen Zitong, Calvin Yu, Qian Yongchen, Zeppelin Hamilton, Jiaming Guo, Lyric Lan. Directed by Stephen S. DeKnight

 

This sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 giant robots versus giant aliens Japanese cult film lovefest Pacific Rim isn’t going to overtax your intellect nor excite your imagination much; rather it operates on a completely visceral level, relying on eye candy special effects and chest-thumping militaristic dialogue from every action film ever.

]Set ten years after the original, the world is emerging from the invasion of the kaiju behemoths that nearly wiped out humanity. The fleet of giant robotic jaegers, piloted by two humans with minds linked by a neural bridge, are largely for show as the world rebuilds. Then, a rogue kaiju shows up and the world is woefully unprepared. Not only that but there is a giant conspiracy afoot. What is a war-weary world to do?

\Most of the cast of the original is absent, notably lead Charlie Hunnam whose character is mentioned in passing. Boyega plays the son of the first film’s Idris Elba character. Kikuchi, Gorham and Day are the only returnees of note. More importantly, Del Toro was off winning himself an Oscar and therefor had no time for the sequel.

The first film did boffo box office in China, rescuing it from red ink so the sequel is set mainly in China and has a predominantly Chinese cast. Fair enough. However, there is a Chinese reliance on oversold humor and shouted dialogue. This is a very loud movie indeed. It is also predictable as it seems cobbled together from a variety of movies. Having four writers will do that to a would-be blockbuster.

The special effects are what rescue the film; they are indeed impressive. You also can’t go wrong with giant robots battling Godzilla-like creatures. However, this sequel gets perilously close to doing just that.

REASONS TO SEE: The special effects are pretty nifty.
REASONS TO AVOID: Sadly predictable and goes completely off the rails in the final third.
FAMILY VALUES: There is plenty of sci-fi action violence and a bit of profanity
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Several of the supporting actors appeared in the Spartacus series, including DeKnight who created the cable TV show.
BEYOND THE THEATER: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, HBO Go, Vudu,YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/30/19: Rotten Tomatoes: 44% positive reviews: Metacritic: 44/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Transformers: The Last Knight
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT:
Bored in the USA

Pick of the Litter – July 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Spider-Man: Far From Home

(Columbia/Marvel) Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei. With the world forever changed following the events of the last two Avengers movies, Peter Parker finally seems to be going back to normal as he accompanies members of his class on a school trip to Europe. However, he can’t escape his role as Spider-Man as Nick Fury recruits him to fight a completely different kind of villain with an unusual ally. July 2

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

(Roadside Attractions) Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen. For the legendary troubadour Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen was his muse. Most of the incredible love songs that he wrote over his career were about her. Their relationship was both passionate and challenging; it is captured on archival footage recently unearthed. July 5

The Farewell

(A24) Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Gil Perez-Abraham, Diana Lin. A Chinese-American family travels to the mother country to visit their grandmother who is dying of cancer. Following Chinese practice, the grandmother hasn’t been told of her medical condition, causing the young granddaughter issues in keeping the truth from her beloved grandma. July 12

Super 30

(Reliance) Hrithik Roshan, Amit Sadh, Nandish Singh, Virendra Saxena. The amazing but true story of an Indian mathematician who institutes the Super 30 program to help underprivileged youth to pass the entrance exams for the Indian Institute of Technology which could land them high-paying jobs they otherwise had no shot at getting. July 12

David Crosby: Remember My Name

(Sony Classics) David Crosby, Cameron Crowe, Henry Diltz, Graham Nash. Crosby’s music has helped two generations define themselves – with the Byrds in the Sixties and with CSNY in the Seventies. Now a septuagenarian himself in ill health and having alienated most of his peers, struggles to define himself. July 19

Honeyland

(NEON) Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov. The most honored film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Honeyland follows the last female beekeeper in Europe as her remote village is invaded by a family of nomadic beekeepers who not only threaten her own livelihood but also to upset the delicate natural balance of her village. July 26

Jirga

(Lightyear) Sam Smith, Muhammad Shah Majroh, Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad, Basheer Safi. An Australian soldier who accidentally killed a civilian during a raid returns to Afghanistan to make amends. This turns out to be an incredibly dangerous proposition as he is turned over to their law court – the Jirga – for judgement. July 26

Skin

(A24) Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Mike Colter, Bill Camp. This is based on the true story of Bryon Widner, a young man raised by racist skinheads and part of an ultra-violent white supremacy gang. Covered head to toe in racist tattoos, he begins to get his act together and change paths to one less violent and evil with the help of a black activist, the woman he loves and her three daughters. The film is currently available on VOD for DirecTV subscribers. July 26