Movie Review: 'Pacific Rim: Uprising'
D’Onna Baldwin | Contributing Writer
For those unfamiliar with the original “Pacific Rim” directed by Guillermo Del Toro, “Uprising” is the sequel to a future world that uses giant robots called Jaegers to fight alien monsters, the Kaiju. Jaegers are controlled by two pilots through what is called a “neural handshake,” where the pilots connect through their own memories to move the robot. Though it may sound silly, the original Pacific Rim was full of action and colorful cinematography. Del Toro’s own talent shined through in the original and that was what made it great.
The sequel, directed by Steven DeKnight brings us back into the world of “Pacific Rim,” with the question: who is Jake Pentecost? Jake was never mentioned in the original film, but his adopted sister, Mako, was. As far as the audience can see Jake Pentecost has been living a life built off the remains of the war, selling Jaeger scraps for food, attending parties in the rubble left over from people’s homes, making the most of what resources are left 10 years after the war.
Someone as resourceful as Jake is often self-reliant as well, but this trait is challenged after he runs into Amani, a teenage scraper who is building her own Jaeger. Jake meets her after she steals the capacitor he was looking for and the police chase them both down. Mako returns and bails Jake out of jail on the condition that he returns to the academy to train the cadets and Amani is to join him as a cadet.
A few of the same themes from the first Pacific Rim are revisited in the sequel. Themes of family and legacy, more specifically, knowing when to hold on to a memory and when to let go. Stacker Pentecost sacrificed his life to end the war with the Kaiju by sealing off the portal at the end of the first movie. With his return to the academy, Jake must deal with living in his father’s shadow. His fellow recruits and Stacker’s memorial in the academy are looming reminders of that.
This sequel brings the return of two characters who played the comedic relief in the original movie, the two scientists, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb and Dr. “Newt.” If you’ve seen the first movie, you may remember them as the two whose bright idea it was to merge with a Kaiju brain. Gottlieb returns to Newt with the idea to use Kaiju blood to create thrusters for the Jaegers, obviously they haven’t learned from past interactions with the Kaiju.
If you’re interested in a light-hearted action movie with an almost comic-worthy evil villain, “Uprising” may be the movie you want to gather your friends to go see. Otherwise, if you were expecting a sequel that pays tribute to the complexities of the first movie, I’d suggest you stay home and re-watch the original.