Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Max Zhang, Charlie Day, Karan Brar, Wesley Wong, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez, Rahart Adams, Levi Meaden, Dustin Clare
Written by: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin, based on characters created by Travis Beacham
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language
Running Time: 111
Date: 03/23/2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Massive Monsters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This giant-monsters-versus-giant-robots sequel is surprisingly much better than a dashed-off afterthought; it's speedy, nimble, exciting, fun, and — best of all — does not take itself too seriously.

In Pacific Rim Uprising, ten years has passed since the big battle between the invading giant monsters (the "Kaiju") and the man-made giant robots (the "Jaegers"). Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the fallen hero General Pentecost, now passes his time stealing and selling items on the black market. While trying to steal a valuable power source, he loses it to another thief, a young girl Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), who is building her own mini-Jaeger.

They are caught and sent to the Jaeger base, where Amara will become a cadet and Jake will take his place as a ranger. Before long, a rogue Jaeger attacks, and Jake and his fellow ranger Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) underestimate it and lose. But when they follow a clue and discover who (or what) is piloting it, it leads to a long-gestating plot: the Kaiju will rise again.

Guillermo Del Toro, who directed the original Pacific Rim (2013), opted not to take the reins for Pacific Rim Uprising, taking a back seat as producer and handing the project over to Steven S. DeKnight, a TV director and producer who makes his feature directing debut. He turns in a shorter, leaner movie, spending less time on exposition and favoring quick, potent, and often funny interactions.

Aside from the likable characters, the band of screenwriters actually came up with a decent reason for a second movie, digging into the first one and coming up with believable roots for a new attack. Meanwhile, the battle scenes are as effective as ever, huge and colorful and with a genuine sense of weight, scale, and height.

The clever idea allows for cutting to the fighters inside the robots, guiding their actions and adding a human element to the fights. All in all, that is what customers actually want to see, an awesome, massive roller coaster-size spectacle. Pacific Rim Uprising has it.

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