The original Pacific Rim is a cult classic. Directed by recent Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro featured giant monsters (what else would expect from del Toro?) and huge robots engaging in hand to hand combat. For those into that sort of thing, what could be better? It was new, original and fresh. Unfortunately that does not continue with the second film.
Is is because it is a second film and they are never as good as the first time. Sequels rarely live up to what has gone before them. They fall prey to trying to either do the same thing over again which bores viewers or do something bigger which is never the right way to approach making a film. What should be attempted is to make a film which honours what goes before it while at the same time carving its own path. Something director and co-screenwriter Steven S. DeKnight does not seem to have understood.
Once an up and coming Jaeger pilot, Jake Pentecost (played by John Boyega) is not living up to his father’s legacy. His father sacrificed his own life in order to make sure that humans were victorious against the Kaiju. Since then Jake has left the righteous path and slipped into the the criminal underworld. When a new and even bigger threat to human survival surfaces, it affords Jake a chance at redemption. And living up to what his father had done before him.
A young defence force is being led by Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi). These pilots have grown up with war being always around them. Their only hope is to band together with other human forces in order to avoid extinction. Jake joins up with the young fighters and specifically talented pilot Lambert (played by Scott Eastwood) and 15-year-old hacker Amara (played by Cailee Spaeny).
You don’t need to have seen the original film as you get a short recap at the beginning of this one. Handy.
It does remember to deliver enough robot vs. Kaiju battles to entertain on that level. Fans of the original will be happy about that. In actuality the fight sequences are probably better than those that were in the original. Though at times it does remind me of some kind of crazy version of Rock ’em Sock ’em robots. Cinematography is well done and as such the fight scenes are cool to watch.
Originality and subtlety is not the name of the game here. It is really not that cerebral or at all. Not living up to the standard set by the original, a film that while it was not perfect, was watchable. Filled with heart, intrigue and a cool message, it was a worthy addition to Kaiju films. The giant robots were cool wile the doomsday threat felt real. Here the characters undergo no development, writing is poor and relationships feel forced. Without any emotional investment it is just a hollow shell, however.
John Boyega tries his best with a rather winning performance to carry the film on his shoulders, but it is not enough. His genuine charisma is not enough to save this clunker. The other young star here, Scott Eastwood, does not come out smelling so lovely. He is miscast as the enemy plus does not enjoy very good chemistry with Boyega.
The original was a celebration of fighter pilot and monster movies. That heart has been left out here. It just tries to coast on what what has already been accomplished. Fails.