On paper, a sequel to Pacific Rim, Gullermo Del Toro’s flawed but fun love letter to giant monster movies, seemed like a no brainer. The super-sized smackdowns and ludicrous dialogue tailor made for sugared up pre-teens and cheering man-children alike and yet the domestic box office was more disappointing than Godzilla’s health and safety record.
However, like a giant mecha racing to the rescue, the box office revenue for China pushed it comfortably into the black and a sequel was all set.
And yet, here we are. 5 years later with no Charlie Hunman (but still with Charlie Day), no Del Toro (off hoovering up Oscars for directing Sally Hawkins fish nookie) and no Idris Elba (his character’s dead).
So? Lame continuation or franchise viagra?
Putting the “equal” into “sequel” (but only if you spell it wrong) Pacific Rim: Uprising (which actually features no actual uprising that I can recall) is pretty much as flawed and fun as the original, it’s pros and cons virtually identical yet interchangeable. The plot is endearingly (or frustratingly, depending on your point of view) yet again, as dumb as a bag of Joey Essex’s. Characters spout out plot shifting guff, straight faced as if their lives depend upon it. The visuals are less awesome (due to the lack of the first movie’s almost constant hurricanes) and yet the choreography much clearer to make out. And while only some of the previous movie’s characters appear, the walking, talking charisma nuke that is John Boyega anchors the insanity with some good old fashioned London sass. In fact he kind of makes up for the rest of the new cast being a bit bland, Scott Eastwood’s performance, for example, is so vanilla you’re fully expecting to see a Cadbury’s flake sticking out the middle of his forehead.
But then, that’s the sort of the point. This is a movie about giant robots beating on giant monsters in massive brawls, and everyone knows that the humans in a monster movie are a bit shit.
Embrace the old school monster movie conventions and this ditzy flick comes alive, pretty much like the first one did. The finale, for example, which pits 4 Jaeger against 3 Kaiju, fittingly in the shadow of Mount Fiji (a previous stomping ground of both Kong and Godzilla) is delirious fun. Watching a Jaeger the size of a block of flats spin kick a crusty, day-glow lizard directly in his hooter still slaps a big stupid grin on my face. And the adding of various, super unsubtle Saturday morning cartoon plot tropes (combining monsters, evil robots, MOTHERFUCKING JETPACKS) make the whole thing a pleasantly heart warming, oddly uncynical experience which nicely sets the table for this year’s other monster-fest, Dwayne Johnson’s Rampage.
It ain’t Fellini, but then he never made a movie that involves decking a mega with a rocket powered elbow. Treat accordingly. Turn off brain. Cancel Apocalypse… Again.