Pacific Rim: Uprising

Canadian Thanksgiving wrapped up over the weekend, hence my delayed reaction to this trailer and The Last Jedi.

Pacific Rim drew a lot of comparisons to properties like Transformers and Power Rangers, further demonstrating people’s narrow frames of reference. The mecha and kaiju (strange beast) genre is an old one, and director Guillermo Del Toro cited Tetsujin 28 (1956) as one of his greatest inspirations for Pacific Rim. Transformers and Power Rangers take inspiration from the mecha and kaiju genre, the same way Stranger Things was inspired by IT (and other Stephen King works) and not the other way around.

Even as someone who isn’t well versed in older entries in the mecha genre, the first Pacific Rim trailer reminded me more of Gundam Wing, a show I was obsessed with at one point. I didn’t think Pacific Rim was ripping off Gundam Wing, I recognized it as another entry in the genre. You wouldn’t say that Spider-Man is a rip off Superman simply because they are both superheroes right?

Moving on from the uninformed…

Pacific Rim didn’t sport many great performances or amazing writing, but I can’t deny that it was an entertaining film with great action and plenty of eye candy. It gave me live-action battles between giant robots and giant monsters, and the fanboy in me was willing to settle for that. Then again, I still avoided Power Rangers like the plague because the acting, writing and special effects all looked horrible, so I guess I still have some ability to judge a film critically, even if it triggers nostalgia.

There was talk of a sequel for a while and some of the first substantial news I heard about it was that John Boyega would be co-producing through his production company, Upperroom Entertainment Ltd. Say what you want about his role in the film, producing a big blockbuster this early on is a great step in his career. This development did bring up more concerns about the film’s potential box office success. Pacific Rim had a disappointing run domestically, but was able to recoup with its stronger international showing. International audiences offer a larger number of viewers but this can often be counteracted by the fact that studios get a smaller cut of international earnings.

Pacific Rim had decent word of mouth so I am hoping that can contribute to more success for the sequel. However, online comments are already swarmed with the aforementioned comments about this film ripping off Transformers or Power Rangers. That will likely hurt Uprising’s box office earnings, just like similar talk probably detracted from the first film’s earning. On the other hand, those who saw and liked the first will likely be interested in checking out the second. Hopefully their word of mouth can help to combat the uninformed hordes.

We knew going into the first trailer that we likely wouldn’t see any of the cast from the previous film. Boyega is playing Stacker Pentecost’s son, Jake, but that appears to be the only direct connection revealed so far. A plot summary reveals that Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) will be present as well, serving as Jake’s adoptive sister. The trailer looks like it may feature a slight redesign of Gypsy Danger, or perhaps a brand new Jaeger that is similar.

Along with Gypsy Danger we see three new Jaegers and new Kaiju. I am looking forward to seeing the Jaegers working together as a team since we didn’t get much of it in the first film. The only team fight scene ended with most of the Jaegers and their pilots being killed to make way for Gypsy Danger and Striker Eureka. This time we might truly get to see different weapons and fighting styles get their chance to shine. We also see Jaegers that are faster and more agile than the ones in the previous film, demonstrating either a disregard for the previous film or the evolution of the Jaeger technology.

 

At one point Jake and his co-pilot are battling another Jaeger and I’m curious to find out why. Perhaps there is some sort of safety measure the government enacts, such as a quarantine, which Jake contests. Or perhaps some other political battle pits the humans against each other. Ultimately, each Jaeger is associated with a specific country or region, and perhaps some countries have different ideas about the best way to protect their borders.

The special effects were amazing in the first film, but they look more cartoonish in a lot of the shots here. Below is one of the better ones.

Let’s hope post-production helps to clean up some of the effects. The next issue is that Guillermo Del Toro is only serving as a producer this time, which can mean a myriad of different things for his creative involvement. Let’s hope he was still actively involved in this film’s conception.

This first trailer doesn’t reveal too much about the characters or the plot, which is fine with me. The film doesn’t come out till March 2018 and there will likely be another trailer released before then. The plot summary says this film takes place ten years after the first film, and doesn’t tell us much aside from that. We know Kaijus are still around. As the first film implied, the Kaijus continue to evolve as they combat humans. This is most evident with the kaiju we see at the end of the film, that appears to have some of Wolverine’s DNA and healed from an attack almost instantly.

The music in the trailer appears to have some mixed reviews, but I personally liked it. It got me pumped up, despite seeing my two most hated characters on screen again. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman ‘s characters added a level of campiness that Pacific Rim didn’t need. Yes, the film is about giant monsters fighting giant robots, but do we need the overacting scientists to drive that point home? More than anything, Pacific Rim taught me that I can’t stand the sound of Charlie Day’s voice. I can only hope his role is smaller this time around, but I doubt that. If Kaijus are continuously evolving, then the scientists will be on deck to analyze it. Of all the characters returning, I was hoping these two wouldn’t be among them. We couldn’t get any other scientists?

Your thoughts on Uprising?

John Boyega- Pacific Rim 2 and Star Wars Episode VIII

 

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John Boyega’s star continues to rise. Star Wars Episode VII and now Pacific Rim 2. Aside from starring in Pacific Rim 2, Boyega will also serve as a producer. UpperRoom Productions, founded by Boyega and agent Femi Oguns, will produce the sequel.

Like many people, I first saw Boyega in Attack The Block, and was thrilled to hear that he was cast in Episode VII. As my review stated, I was disappointed that his character (Finn) mostly ended up being comic relief, which is a role that black characters occupy often. Finn was also not a jedi or padawan like the trailers led us to believe. However, Boyega has hinted the character will grow more in the sequel and a recent picture on instagram revealed a picture of a robe on the set of Episode VII. This is leading some to believe that his character may grow into a jedi in the trilogy.

It’s great to hear official word that Pacific Rim will get a sequel. Boyega will play Stacker Pentecost’s (Idris Elba) son. All other casting is still unconfirmed. Unfortunately, Del Toro will not be returning to direct. Stephen S. DeKnight, who currently serves as the show runner for Daredevil and has previously produced  Spartacus. I’ll keep an open mind about DeKnight. For now, this is a true triumph. People may see Pacific Rim as another generic blockbuster, but I was thrilled to see the mech and kaiju genre brought to the big screen in Hollywood.