Pacific Rim Uprising released to middling reviews in 2018; for many the movie was a shadown of its former self. To others, it was just fine, but not spectacular. John Boyega takes on the role of Jake Pentecost, taking centre stage. However, even with his charm, the movie failed to catch the attention it so desperately desired.
Here is our analaysis as to why the film performed the way it did.
Note: Spoilers ahead!
Why did Raleigh disappear? It appears very odd that one part of the duo, and the main character, is just entirely absent. It was very odd, because when I saw the new character, Ranger Lambert, I thought that was Raleigh. When Raleigh (played by Charlie Hunnam in the previous movie) did not appear for some time, all the alarm bells were ringing. It was so worrying that one of the main duo was just erased. No doubt we now could understand this as a way to make space of Jake Pentecost (played effortlessly by John Boyega). Charlie Hunnam is, according to Collider,
This is a problem, however; like it or not, Jake is shoehorned in at the new movie, and his introduction does little to explain why he is there in the first place. It seems like a last-minute alteration. As a returning viewer, the lack of familiar faces instilled an alien feeling in the experience.
Lets take a look at how poorly thought out this move is:
This seems like a rather bad photoshop to be quite honest. Jake looks like he doesn’t belong there. This picture looks like a rather shoddy alteration, a rush job that added the character but forgot to colour-correct. This photo does not do the characters of Mako and Stacker Pentecost justice for their roles.
The Jake problem is perfectly summed up by the fact that he feels alien to the audience. Though he is played well, his character is Alien, unknown to the audience. Such an unknown character being central in a sequel seems like a faux-pas.
However, this is not to say the character does not have merits. On the contrary, he is played extremely deftly by John Boyega, who brings his charm and accent that absolutely beats the competition.
The Mako Incident
Everyone felt Mako, the other half of the duo, was iced too early. This just smacks of attempting to make space for Jake. This space wasn’t even needed. The space could have been used for the role of Mako as a guide as an older war veteran and sister. Additionally, it should have been clear that Mako is the star of the first movie, and should have had a lead role. Her role is so minor that by the end of the movie, one can forget that she even died.
Her death was so normal, so blasé that she felt like a minor character. Most returning movie-goers felt that Mako dying was an exceptional faux-pas. Mako’s character is mistreated this way and this should not have been the case. At least, for a character that was core to the first movie, she should have gone out in a blaze of glory.
Going forward, it is very difficult to see how audiences would keep their interest in the series. Even if Jake replaces her, her shoes are far too big- she was an iconic hero, and a recognizable part of the universe. Sure, it is possible to bring back Raleigh in the sequel, but without Mako it would feel incomplete.
It is quite mischievous to suggest, but perhaps a retcon is in order? Mako could be brought back … with Kaiju magic. Jokes aside, it is going to take a lot of creativity (and maybe a dose of suspension of belief) to keep the series’ magic going.
In all seriousness, Mako is gone and the writers must be quite creative in order to feel the gaping chasm she left behind. Jake, who is already present, would need a phenomenal jumping platform to reach the heights he can, but please, don’t sacrifice Raleigh too!
After the first few set pieces, the movie sets about establishing the lore of the world, especially vis a vis the recruits and Rangers Lambert & Jake.
Lambert and Jake are new characters, and we don’t know them, or need them. The characters are meant to pilot Jaegers, and the lack of any background to them- even a life story- only means that they’re an unwelcome sight at best.
It is difficult to understand why more of the old lore was not included. Jing Tian’s role as Leader of Shao Industries, Liwen Shao, was a strong enough character to carry the movie forward, but perhaps some of the older companies and characters could have made a return.
LAMBERT is useless as a new character. His role could have been replaced with Raleigh. Raleigh would have been good grounding force for Jake, a competitor but also a senior, so that the world does not need to be exposition so much.
The recruits are worked too much on, for far too many characters- the movie could have been better done of them as one unit, rather than individuals. Namani’s inclusion just confuses the situation, as the movie cannot decide who to give more importance- Amara Namani or the recruits?
As a result of this important tussle of ideas, the recruits seem hollow, like action figures. They are not given enough individuality.
The idea of the film is great- that young soldiers need to follow the ‘greats’- but the hollow characterization means they feel awfully underutilized.
The Newt Mystery
The Newt plot twist was out of nowhere. Some background would have been better; when and how exactly was Newt turned? What convinced him? There is too little information for this twist; it doesn’t sound intriguing; it just confuses the audience.
And this twist is done twice- once for his friend Dr. Gottleib and once more for the rest of the Rangers. This makes it feel redundant- although the spectacle the second time is just something amazing to watch. It boggles the mind that these scenes could not have been merged.
The Mt Fuji Deus Ex Machina
Mt fuji plot twist is, well, useless What the hell was the point of the Mount Fuji Twist?
This was pulled out of thin air- it seemed to be relegated to centering the Kaiju somewhere. It also seemed poorly executed at best.
The point of the Kaiju in Pacific Rim (2013) was the Kaiju were destroying civilization as is, because they can, and want to. The terraforming angle is there too, with relations to the toxic blue blood (“Kaiju Blue”) causing massive environmental catastrophes. Their aim is the extermination of the human race.
There is no previous indication of the Kaiju Blue is explosive when mixed with fuel- this information is haphazardly thrown at the audience before the mad rush begins for the climatic battle. Perhaps this information could have been hinted on very early in the film, with some evidence.
It is quite interesting that the movie had to do the Mt. Fuji plot, instead of, you know, going for a more traditional Kaiju drama. The behemoth “Mega-Kaiju” at the end also kind of undercut the point of the twist- it is just one kaiju, and one place is being threatened. Perhaps the Kaiju could have been split up and the Jaegers had to run an analysis of which threat is greater.
The previous movie established that the battle was one of attrition and difficult choices, where one kaiju being addressed means letting another one or two run rampant. The humans were firmly established on the losing side of things. They won the war with human ingenuity, courage and a huge amount of sheer luck.
Pacific Rim Uprising could have had that lesson, but chose to got for a cookie cutter battle dynamic that ultimately undermines the very relevant repercussions of Kaiju as hive mind destroyers.
Pacific Rim does a commendable job of bringing the world back to life but it flounders due to rookie movie mistakes. Iconic and recognizable characters are either absent or killed off early, and the world generally feels unfamiliar due to the dearth of alien characters. A lower budget, and a lack of the iconic special effects makes for an overall more muted experience. However, Pacific Rim Uprising is fun where it counts- the action scenes are weighty and exhiliarating to watch, and its comedic value stands out when pulled off well.
Going forward, the new given state of the Pacific Rim universe will require some truly astonishing creativity; the plot holes and inconsistencies are recommended to be closed up, and new villains going forward ought to be given more thought. Pacific Rim originally celebrated the marriage of giant robots and Kaiju with Hollywood special effects. Bringing back Raleigh and some bigger, flashier plot would do the trick probably.