Uprising Was A Bit Of A Downer

A few years ago, I found myself home alone for a couple of weeks during an intense heatwave. And there was no air conditioning at that apartment. At night, I was either at work (where there was AC), or I sat at home in the dark watching movies and tv, and trying to keep cool. But during the day I suffered. There used to be a small movie theatre in that area and the AC was so powerful in there I needed a sweater. That was my sanctuary during those weeks and I saw every single movie that was showing at that theatre. Pacific Rim (2013) was one of them. Obviously, as a fan of Guillermo Del Torro, I had been excited for that film from the beginning; and both because of the heatwave and my enjoyment of the film I saw it twice in that theatre. Once I got a hold of it on DVD I’ve watched it countless times since. It’s absolutely one of my favourite films, so I was both excited and concerned that a second Pacific Rim was being made.

As a fan, I was excited by the idea of a second film. As an experienced moviegoer, I knew that sometimes sequels are not a good idea. Then once reviews started coming in, I knew Pacific Rim: Uprising probably would not meet my expectations. My boyfriend did not enjoy the first film, so he went into this one expecting a bad action film, got what he was expecting, and actually enjoyed it more than I did. I’ll admit it was entertaining, but as a fan I also found it disappointing.

The opening of the film was where I started to get worried. The recap of the first film really set the tone that this was nothing but a sequel – it wasn’t trying to stand out on its own. This movie was clearly just attempting to repeat some of the success of its predecessor. There were even elements thrown in that felt a little unnecessary, as if the creators of the film said “well, film one had this thing, so we should have it too”. And I get why they decided to make the main character the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), as it led to an easy plot, but given the relationship between Stacker and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) in the first film, it was a bit of a stretch to believe that there was a third member of that family unit. And I just didn’t care enough about Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) to experience any significant suspension of disbelief for this film.

I found that was one of the main problems I had while watching – I just didn’t care all that much about the characters. Del Torro had crafted such fascinating characters in the first film that the cast of characters in Uprising felt two dimensional by comparison. Especially since there was a character whose only purpose was to be present as a potential love interest for two different men. I was also initially disappointed with Newt (Charlie Day), as he was no longer the same person from the first film. But as the story began to progress and I realized what was being done with him, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this unexpected shift in personality.

I was also pleased with the main plot itself as I was expecting nothing but disaster. The breach had been sealed in the first film, so I was worried that this film would have some outlandish explanation as to why the breach had miraculously opened again. Thankfully, this was not the case. The Jaegers spent very little time fighting actual Kaijus as we know them; and when Kaijus did emerge from beneath the Pacific Ocean, there was a surprisingly plausible explanation as to how they got through.

Overall, the thing that disappointed me the most was the fact that it felt so different from the previous film. It was pretty apparent to me from the beginning that the music was the work of a different composer. Although Lorne Balfe’s score was decent, I just didn’t find it as powerful as Ramin Djawadi’s had been. And although it was clear that Del Torro’s Pacific Rim had been used as inspiration, Steven S. DeKnight’s Uprising very clearly lacked Del Torro’s cinematic touch. If, like my boyfriend, you’re expecting a silly action film then this film is undoubtedly entertaining, but don’t go in expecting it to be anything like the first Pacific Rim.

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