Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #34: Pacific Rim: Uprising Review

Between awesome babysitters and a boss husband, I actually get the opportunity to hit the movie theatre quite often, so I wanted to discuss more in-theatre films for Watch Wednesday.  Last night I went on a date to see Pacific Rim: Uprising, so let’s chat about that, shall we?

Pacific Rim: Uprising Review

As a basic synopsis, Pacific Rim: Uprising follows life after the first film, where the big tear in space and time (or whatever) has been sealed up nice and tight, and the world has bee Kaiju free for about a decade.  While parts of the world have started to rebuild, much like a post-hurricane Katrina south, many parts of the world have been left to waste.

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Protagonist Jake is a resident of one such area, but he describes the unstructured life as having its perks.  Jake is the son of Kaiju war hero, Stacker Pentecost (you know, Idris Elba, the epic speech-maker?), but he’s fallen far from the tree.  He is a disgraced Yaeger pilot who makes his living stealing old Yaeger parts–a pursuit which, ironically, has him brought right back to Pan-Pacific Defense Corps and to his adopted sister, Mako Mori.

The proceeding story follows Jake and his new younger friend, Amara Namani, as they are both forcibly placed back into the Yaeger pilot program.  Amara as a pilot, Jake as an instructor.  Of course, Kaiju are reintroduced as a problem, once again creating a need for Yaegers to battle for planet earth–but in a way that you may not think.

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I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about Pacific Rim: Uprising, so let me just lay out this film in laymen’s terms:  This is not an A-list movie.  Don’t go into it expecting a Marvel throwdown, or even an epic drama.  Uprising is, quite simply, a cheeky action film that is all sorts of nerdy fun.

First off, John Boyega takes this role for everything it’s worth.  He is not a Finn-spinoff, his character work as Jake is stark, different, and charming.  And, dang, that man wears facial hair well.  Jake is not his father, and never purports to be, but stands as a convincing branch of the Pentecost tree, one that must deal with the burden of such a name.

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The film also does a great job pulling the characters from the first film and actively integrating them into this sequel in a way that is plausible and not forced.  Not only do we get to see Mako, played by Rinko Kikuchi, but we also get the high caliber that is Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, back as the quirky scientists who saved the world.  Only Charlie Dunnam’s character, Raleigh, seemed to be forgotten–and I’m okay with that, honestly.

The added teen cast was entertaining and as cliched as the “young trainees” plotline can be, header Cailee Spaeny presented a flawed but not annoying young cadet–a rarity for action films like this, I think.  I genuinely liked her alongside her teammates, who were believably children while at the same time offering a touch of honorable youth to the tale.  (I love Karan Brar, though, so I’m possibly biased.)

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I freaking LOVED the new Yeagers.  Especially the one that dual wields swords and the two teen pilots are like ninja masters–so enjoyable to watch.  I also liked the hodgepodge nature that some of the Yeagers had to take, making them a little less sleek and more battle worn.  The battles were great, but I don’t want to get into the details because that’s spoiler territory and, dang it, I loved the big reveal so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else.

Seriously, the bad guy is a long-time coming and I about peed when it came to fruition.  The red herring is also such a great addition, and the fact that the character is fully utilized rather than simply a suspect is just so satisfying to me.

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What makes me prefer Uprising over its predecessor is the fact that it actively owns the campiness.  It doesn’t try and encapsulate itself in a hoity-toity facade, it just lets us as viewers have fun and enjoy it for what it is–a robot v. monster story.  Which I can always get behind.  Again, it’s not this Academy Award-winning masterpiece, but dude, it’s a heck of a lot of entertainment.

What do you think of the Pacific Rim films?

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