(Image: Universal and Legendary)

REVIEW: Pacific Rim Uprising – Humans vs. Precursors

The beginning of Pacific Rim Uprising takes you ten years beyond the Jaeger-Kaiju wars.

In the original Pacific Rim film, humans had sent a nuclear device to the Precursors’ world. The subsequent explosion not only left their planet devastated, but also closed the inter-dimensional portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

No more Kaiju monsters could get through and that was the end of the story, or so we thought…

But Hollywood has a way of finding new sub-plots and it appears Pacific Rim is another in the long list of sci-fi films spawning sequels.

In Uprising, the central character is Jake Pentecost, played by John Boyega of Star Wars fame. He is the son of the legend Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba in the original.

The film begins with Pentecost Jnr eking out an existence, salvaging scrap from Jaeger robots. He comes across a teenage girl, Amara Anami, who is played by relative newcomer, Cailee Spaeny. She’s always one step ahead of him and ends up with a prize find. Pentecost tracks her and unwittingly leads the authorities back to her base.

Anami has built her own Jaeger robot and uses it to get away. Pentecost comes along for the ride, but waiting for them is an even larger Jaeger. After a brief battle, Anami and Pentecost are jailed.

Pentecost’s adopted sister, Mako Mori – reprised by Rinko Kinkuchi – steps in to save the day. Her brother though must choose between jail or returning to training pilots.

It’s there he meets his old teenage nemesis, Nate Lambert – ably played by Scott Eastwood. Eastwood, of course, is the son of Hollywood legend Clint ‘go ahead make my day’ Eastwood.

The cast of Pacific Rim Uprising (Image: Universal)

The well-worn formula of academy grunts being trained by the central characters, Pentecost and Lambert, plays out well. Although… the character Adria Arjona, portrayed by Jules Reyes, appears to be in the film simply as Nate’s love interest. The obligatory male ‘pissing contest’ between Jake and Nate develops. So Adria’s role effectively perpetuates the stereotype that women in movies are there to be men’s play things. It’s a shame her role wasn’t further developed, as her potential was obvious. That’s my biggest criticism of the film. It was as though the producers (Boyega also co-produced) decided they could only have one central female character – and that was Amara.

The other slightly annoying character is scientist Dr Newton Geiszler, who is played by Charlie Day. It appears the screenwriters tried a little too hard with this character and his repertoire involves a less funny Joe Pesci-Leo Getz type character…  for those of us old enough to remember the Lethal Weapon series.

His character is central to the plot however, as his brain had been taken over by a Precursor in the original. He allows the drones to go rogue, which sees the inter-dimensional portal briefly re-opened. This allows three monstrous Kaijus to slip through.

Overall, the film is fun. For Sydney-siders, there’s even a glimpse of what our city could look like in the future – although it does take a little battering in a fight scene between a rogue Jaeger and one piloted by Lambert and Pentecost.

John Boyega’s acting is a highlight. This heart-throb appears to have Hollywood at his feet.

Eastwood also has a commanding presence. With his blonde hair and blue eyes, he bears an uncanny resemblance to his father at his peak.

Spaeny also appears headed for bigger and better roles.

The film has more CGI than the original – possibly a little too much – and while it’s not going to win any Academy Awards or BAFTAs, it gets 3.5 out of 5 sci-fi stars. – Caroline Layt