The movie “Pacific Rim Uprising” is a sequel to “Pacific Rim” from a few years back. In the “Rim” world, the giant monsters (called ‘kaiju’) were defeated by the humans controlling giant robots (called ‘jaegers’). It was an excuse to see enormous good guy robots lay the smack down on gigantic evil beasts in order to save the world. After the world was saved, it took ten years (in movie time) to get back to the same ‘Rock-en Sock-em’ battle mode. in “Uprising” there is a new threat, and the world is ready to be saved again. This is a Science-Fiction Action movie that relies a lot more on the Action and the Fiction than it does on the Science.
Ten years ago, a brave jaeger pilot and commander named Stacker Pentecost declared they were “canceling the apocalypse!”. They did this by fighting and defeating the kaiju. But he died in the effort and he left behind his son Jake (John Boyega) and his adopted Japanese daughter Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). Mako was a famous jaeger pilot back in the war. Back then, young Jake was starting in the Jaeger Training program until he was kicked out. But after a street brawl instigated by an even younger Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), who is a street-wise orphan and illegal jaeger scrapper, they both get (forced) into the school. There Jake meets his old partner-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), who wants Jake to take the training seriously this time.
There are new threats that arise, and a Chinese industrial tycoon wants to replace all human-controlled jaegers with remote-controlled drones. There is a special vote to be held in Sydney, but an unknown jaeger attacks the city and kills Mako. She was able to get out a coded message in time. The kaiju may be returning, and this time, they are getting help. There are two scientists (also from in the first movie) named Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). Newt now works for the huge Chinese company making the drones. Gottlieb is still with the team that supports the jaeger pilots.
After a sneak attack by the drones, who are secretly controlled by kaiju brains, only the Trainee Cadets are all that is left. Like I said, this movie relies very little on the Science from Science-Fiction. Trainee Cadets include Amara plus a handful of other ethnically-diverse young jaeger pilots. They are led into battle by Jake and Lambert, who have the most powerful jaeger named Gipsy Avenger. Some of the other jaeger names are Bracer Phoenix, Guardian Bravo, Titan Redeemer, and Saber Athena. These sound more like Axe Body Wash scents, but oh well…
But how are the evil kaiju still on the attack after ten years, and who is helping them to organize a new assault on humanity? I am not at liberty to say, but the culprit might say that It’s Always Sunny in Tokyo City. By the way, the skyscrapers in Tokyo take a beating from the jaeger vs. kaiju wrestling match. The whole place seems to be pretty much gets leveled, as the kaiju all combine into one super-sized monster. The thing is heading to Mt. Fuji, and the thing is not after film or apples.
The acting is relatable to the story-line, it is not fantastic, but there are a couple of standouts. John Boyega has a ton of charm and charisma, and he will not be outdone by the same attributes in Scott Eastwood. Cailee Spaeny is OK in a role that tries to make her do (and know) too much. The snide little comments from Burn Gorman as Dr. Hermann make him the best one to root for.
There is plenty of action, and it all holds together really well. That is unlike the mess that is any “Transformers” movie. The pacing is brisk and it moves from location to location with a focused goal. It does not let any fluff take over the story. You know, stuff like, a deep back-story for any character, any accurate scientific theories, any meaningful dialogue, and especially no mushy romance scenes.
To sum it up:
If you like this sort of thing, then you will sort-of like this thing…