Wednesday 18 July 2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising ★★★☆☆

Is this stupid enough?

It’s a thought that repeatedly crossed my mind during the first act of Pacific Rim: Uprising. The inciting incident this time round is a rogue Jager, which attacks a demonstration intending to replace Jagers and pilots with drone equivalents. (Incidentally, the Jager reinforcements take too long to arrive to successfully take down the rogue, that I’m sure you can already work out the remarkably obvious twist from that information alone.)

The ensuing Jager on Jager fight deftly showed-off the blocking and composition, making use of foreground objects to really emphasize scale, but also ensured a sense of location during the chaos; the action was cohesive and impactful as a result.

Still… robot on robot felt like a step back from the variety of absurd and imaginative kaiju from the previous film, and yet Uprising opts for a lighter, more carefree tone nonetheless. Dissonance, I suppose, and it did strike me as odd that I was this distracted by it as a giant robot punched another giant robot.

Then began act two. The obvious twist obviously revealed itself, with a moderately surprising, if minor, second twist. Things began falling into place from that point. For the sake of clarity, I’ll spoil one moment (skip to the next paragraph if you intend to go in blind). The Jager drones begin attacking the base (the wonderfully named Shattterdome), before morphing into Jager-kaiju hybrids.

That was the moment, the moment that caused me to slap my forehead and laugh. Are we doing this? Yeah, we’re really doing this. And, I was pleased to discover that this was the first of a few moments that would trigger the same reaction.

Pacific Rim: Uprising starts off weak, threatening to step away from the successes of the prior film.
The action has shifted from colourful-by-night central Hong Kong to daytime Tokyo. More thematically appropriate, true, but Tokyo by day results in a flat, grey arena. Maybe a trivial point, but without the high-contrast purple, green, and red lights of Hong Kong, Uprising loses a lot the striking visuals. As the absurdity sets in, however, it really does start to evoke the 1960s era of Gamera and Ultraman.

Still, to return to my previous point, Pacific Rim: Uprising does indeed become stupid enough to be thoroughly enjoyable once the narrative ditches any pretence of being surprising. And once it does. This is about to happen? This is about to happen. This is nonsense. This is great.

Lewis Hill

Pacific Rim at CeX

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