Pacific Rim Uprising

Wild and Crazy Kaiju

Perhaps my favorite element of Pacific Rim Uprising is the escalation of insanity. The prospect of giant piloted robots fighting enormous, city-destroying monsters was already something wild to behold. But the turn the kaiju offensive takes in Pacific Rim Uprising is totally bonkers, and I love everything about it.

Charlie Day‘s character Newt Geiszler was already a little off-kilter in Pacific Rim. He’s described as a kaiju fanatic in the first film by his partner in science Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), and Newt even goes so far as to drift with part of a kaiju brain in order to understand more about where they come from. There are some side effects in the first film, and they turn into a full blown plot twist complete with weirdness that feels straight out of Guillermo del Toro’s playbook.

Newt is no longer just Newt. His mind has been corrupted by the hive mentality of kaiju, specifically the Precursors who control the harvested kaiju monsters who are genetically designed to destroy humanity. He even has some kind of virtual sexual relationship with the brain that he drifted with before (The Shape of Kaiju anyone?). That’s why he built a rogue Jaeger controlled by a kaiju secondary brain, making the drones designed by Shao Industries more necessary than ever. And that’s why he created a backdoor to manipulate the kaiju DNA used to help power these drones to turn them into Jaeger-kaiju hybrids that can create multiple portals around the world to bring even more kaiju to Earth to continue terraforming the planet for their own use.

Yeah, that’s all crazy. It’s the kind of plan you’d see executed on X-Men: The Animated Series, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, or even a superior iteration of Power Rangers. Some might see that as a slight against the movie, but for me, it’s just the natural progression of a movie where the premise was already larger than life and is merely escalated to some next-level, bonkers sci-fi storytelling. It’s in the spirit of the movies and TV shows that Pacific Rim was always trying to emulate.

Pacific Rim Uprising IMAX Trailer

Smash, Crash, Bang, Boom

Finally, at the end of the day, this movie ups the ante on what everyone loved about the first movie: giant monsters vs giant robots. That’s what we all came for, and this movie delivers plenty.

What I like most about the action is how it mixes things up from the first movie. We got plenty of scenes featuring the Jaegers fighting various kaiju, and they were magnificently created with visual effects, featuring some incredible, rainy, nighttime action sequences. But when it comes to the action of Pacific Rim Uprising, everything is different. Every action sequence offers something new.

First, we see a tiny custom, rolling Jaeger chased by a giant, advanced Jaeger. And it’s not the last time that we see some Jaeger vs Jaeger action because a rogue Jaeger interrupts the final approval of the new drone Jaeger program, giving us a big, city-smashing battle between two of the most well-equipped Jaegers we’ve seen in the franchise.

Then there’s the arrival of the Jaeger drones that suddenly become kaiju with Jaeger armor thanks to the aforementioned plot twist put into action by Newt. A whole army of Jaegers take on these gnarly hybrids, and it’s on par with the best battle sequence from the original movie (the one where Gipsy Danger uses a ship as a weapon).

And finally, we have the final battle featuring four Jaegers piloted by mostly cadets taking on three kaiju. Making this battle even more insane is the fact that Newt, still being controlled by the Precursors, activates these little swarming robots to not only heal the kaiju after being sliced, diced, whipped and beaten by the Jagers, but fuse them into one mega kaiju.

C’mon, how can you not have a fucking blast with this movie?

***

Pacific Rim Uprising isn’t meant to be this groundbreaking piece of cinema, and the action is off the charts crazy as hell. But it’s on par with the insanity of the Fast and Furious franchise, with the scale of a Transformers movie, but the endless fun of a Saturday morning cartoon that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s mindless without being stupid, and it’s loyal to what came before while also branching out into thoroughly entertaining new territory.

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