Just watched Pacific Rim: Uprising. The twists are competent, and the physics respected (enough). It’s not the first movie, but it’s also not fair to ask it to be the first movie.
In all honesty, watching Pacific Rim is not a necessary component before watching this movie- no doubt it connects alot of dots for you- BUUUUTTT you can watch this as a stand alone film and feel content with the experience.
All of the actors turn in solid performances. John Boyega is good, not necessarily a lock in the “I am the son of Idris Elba” category, but he plays his role well, and he connects REALLY well with Rinko Kikuchi- you believe that they believe they are brother/sister. And for this film- that’s what matters.
You know an Eastwood chin is in the film, that’s not a spoiler, you’ll see it a couple a of times, when he turns his head just the right way. He does a good job in this film.
The breakout here is Jing Tian, as much as Cailee Spaeny is intended to be the future star (for western audiences), Jing really uses her screen time to the most effect, and I think crosses cultures nicely. This is not a mistake on the studio’s part, it was completely intentional, and effective.
We are a little slow getting started. and as Bob Leeper and I discussed, the filmmaker had the courtesy to stuff his product placements all within a 30 second block to rip the bandage off and get moving quickly. Once we do get moving after a couple sputters, we stay clear of any overly exhaustive monologues or awkward character building and keep the plot moving.
Things we don’t do?
We don’t spend time justifying missing characters (and that’s a good thing).
We don’t spend time exhaustively explaining Pacific Rim technology (which is not necessarily a good or bad thing- depending)
“Drifting” is pushed a little to the side, whereas in the first movie if formed the core of the exposition and world building. We don’t learn anything new about the experience. It’s there, we see it, but it isn’t pushed at all- in fact, at a key moment, we realize just how special the feat was that Raleigh and Stocker were able to pull off- because Jake is unable to.
There is also very little side story in this movie- no Ron Pearlman to distract from the core plot, very little of how the world is in the post Pacific Rim era. Just point and shoot- if there is a third movie, there would be justice is spending more time in this world, but for the second movie, this is acceptable.
There are some things that make you go “wha?” or “huh?”, but in my lifelong experience watching giant monster movies- that is to be expected.
Our antagonist is well played, and logically conclusive based on what has transpired, and the plot does a good job of keeping that in some mist of uncertainty up until the last moment. While it makes me a little sad, it also feels right based on the world. A good piece of storytelling right there.
We do see- spoiler alert- some well done meshing of alien tech with Jeager tech- not talking about Obsidian Fury here, that is actually a bit of a letdown, like a mirror, mirror episode of Star Trek, it’s Gypsy fighting alternate reality Gypsy- bleh. All that was missing was the goatee.
No, it’s the part that comes after that (no, after that part, too- cause that was a little lame), and I won’t reveal it, you’ll know it, and it is really a well thought out fusion idea.
The rendering still does a decent job of respecting the physics of size, which for me was a core challenge.
Overall, I liked this movie, it is a worthy successor, if not an outright champion, it is a well placed second story in this world, and these characters.