Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

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The Jaegers and the Kaijus are back for another round in this exciting sequel to the 2013 Guillermo del Toro-directed homage to Japanese tokukatsu and mecha series.

It has been ten years since the end of the Kaiju War. Since then, the PPDC have been in charge to make sure the world stays safe. However, there tends to be trouble and it tends to follow Jake Pentecost, whose father Stacker sacrificed himself to help stop the war all those years ago. When Jake attempts to steal a piece from a dissembled Jaeger, he is outwitted by teenager Amara Namari, who has build her own Jaeger. When they are busted by the PPDC, Jake is forced back into a world he never imagined going back to.

Returning to the PPDC Training Academy as a Ranger, Jake finds himself at first, renewing a rivalry with fellow Ranger Nathan Lambert. In addition, Amara, due to her diligence and ability to pilot a Jaeger, is recruited to join as a cadet. Eventually, both Jake and Amara find themselves in a comfortable place where Nate and Jake renew their friendship. However, when a rogue Jaeger causes an attack, putting a threat to the Shao Company, who are hoping to build drones, the PPDC learn that the new rogue Jaeger is piloted by a Kaiju Precursor and they are about to start another war, one that can once again, show the fate of the world as know it.

It is clear that the 2013 sci-fi action film Pacific Rim was a hit thanks to its story of depicting the war between the piloted Jaegers and the alien Kaiju. It is clear that Guillermo del Toro brought the likes of Evangelion and Macross and meshed it well with the likes of kaiju with the likes of Godzilla and Gamera as influences. While del Toro does not return to helm the film, he serves as both producer and visual consultant, with co-writer Steven S. DeKnight bringing a well-crafted story involving the next generation of Jaeger pilots.

It seems like science fiction is truly John Boyega’s cup of tea. From his breakout role in Attack the Block to his starmaking turn as reformed Stormtropper Finn in the two recent Star Wars episodes The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Boyega is meant for sci-fi greatness. As Jake Pentecost, Boyega plays an embittered soul who truly looks for redemption yet at first, feeling like since his father died, has nothing else to lose or simply doesn’t seem to care. However, it takes Rinko Kikuchi, reprising her role from the original, to help him bring him back on that road to redemption, in more ways than one.

Scott Eastwood makes for a welcome addition as Jake’s old friend turned rival Lambert, who believe it or not, brings that family toughness to the role at first. It is clear that this Eastwood is a chip off the old block, especially with the resemblance. However, he does tend to have some cool down bonding moments with his frenemy, which provides some comic relief in the film with Boyega bringing a sense of “smartassery” to the mix. A breakout role is imminent for Cailee Spaeny, who plays Amara. She is headstrong from the beginning and when she has the chance to really prove herself, she finds Jake as a mentor as both are more alike than they imagine. Look out for the scions of two actors in pivotal roles of new cadets. Wesley Wong is the son of former Hong Kong actor turned barrister Melvin Wong and actress Angie Chiu. The other is the singularly named Mackenyu, whose father is none other than the legendary Street Fighter himself, Sonny Chiba.

To tap into one of the biggest film markets, the China market, alongside Wong, Max Zhang, usually known for his martial arts action roles, plays it straight as Quan, the commander of the PPDC Academy with Jing Tian playing Shao Liwen, the head of Shao Technology, who have initiated a new plan for Jaegers only to find chaos ensuing and even worse, something unimaginable. Aside from Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman and Charlie Day also return from the original film as Drs. Gottlied and Geiszler, one of who works for PPDC and the other for Shao, but both as research experts.

Once again, to really make this awesome, there have to be stellar action scenes and once again, they deliver on this film. While Jake and Nate pilot and engage in a few fights inside the Jaeger known as Gypsy Avenger, the climactic scene is truly outstanding with Jake and Nate leading the new generation of pilots which are few due to what can be described as a shocking turning point right prior, which reveals quite a lot and really brings it together, this can be described as an epic battle between the Jaegers and Kaiju that makes the term “upgrade” almost an understatement. Think of the film as a kung fu fight only replace kung fu fighters with the Jaegers taking on the Kaiju.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is one sequel that almost is as good as the original, but very slightly misses it only due to a bit of overacting on one specific actor’s part, but nevertheless, if you liked the original, then you will like this one. Charlie Hunnam may not be there, but it is safe to say that John Boyega couldn’t have been a better replacement.

WFG RATING: A-

Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures present a Clear Angle Studios production in association with Fuji Television Network and Dentsu. Director: Steven S. DeKnight. Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Thomas Tull, Cale Boyter, John Boyega, and Femi Oguns. Writers: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin; based on characters created by Travis Beacham. Cinematography: Dan Mindel. Editing: Zach Staenberg, Dylan Highsmith, Josh Schaeffer.

Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Jing Tian, Max Zhang, Charlie Day, Adria Arjona, Wesley Wong, Karan Brar, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez.

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