Pacific Rim: Uprising lies heavily upon the shoulders of John Boyega, riding his star power from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to take over where Idris Elba left off in the original. This has the splashy looks and action-packed fight scenes, thanks to first-time director Steven S. DeKnight, who has levied his Starz Spartacus series into a feature-length deal. But can it ultimately build on what Charlie Hunnam and Elba did under the direction of Guillermo del Toro?
Boyega plays Elba’s son in the film with a crazy opening for the film as the lovable but inscrutable Jake Pentecost, who is selling Jaeger parts from fallen robots used in the first film. He’s soon arrested along with the street orphan Amara (Cailee Spaeny), who is a big fan of the elder Pentecost and robots in general. Pentecost’s foster sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) is now the head of the whole Jaeger project, and blackmails Pentecost into training others… just as the Precursors unleash a new threat on the world.
Charlie Day is still amusing as Dr. Newton Geiszler, and Burn Gorman does a fair job with his turns as Dr. Herman Gottlieb; Scott Eastwood plays Pentecost’s estranged friend and co-pilot, as the straight man of the group.
But the truth is that while the film is fun, and looks larger than life, it suffers from appearing too much like a Michael Bay Transformers film. While Del Toro’s take had a robots versus aliens feel, this settles into more straightforward robot CGI against itself. Boyega is forceful, but the film isn’t made for the dialogue, is it?
Early on the film, Boyega’s Pentecost has to do his best JFK speech, but he’s actually at his best consoling his young mentee, Amara that she doesn’t need to be anyone she’s not, or like anyone else, but that she should just be herself. That’s always the moral of the story, right? Unless you’re going to be Batman, you should be yourself.
Special features include deleted scenes with commentary, as well as features on “Hall of Heroes,” “Bridge to Uprising,” “Becoming Cadets,” “Unexpected Villain,” and “Next Level Jaegers.”