Nearly four years have passed since director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” “Crimson Peak”) took sci-fi film to a new level with the fantasy that nerds and geeks everywhere had been waiting for.
Giant robots. Giant monsters. Fighting.
In a cinematic love letter to franchises such as the world famous Godzilla and the Japanese tradition of giant mechs trashing cities, “Pacific Rim” was the closest we’ve come to the live-action version of anime classics such as “Gundam,” “Big O,” “Ultron” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Unfortunately, fans will have to wait a bit longer for the real deal, but the latest installment of the metal-crunching film series appears to come delightfully close.
Though del Toro remained on board as a producer, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (the Spartacus series, “Daredevil,” “Smallville”). The new and improved Gipsy Avenger and her squad come crashing in ten years after “Pacific Rim” takes place. In the first film, the world is losing the battle against interdimensional monsters called Kaiju, a direct reference to Japanese translation for “strange beast.” It only seems appropriate that the weapons created to fight the Kaiju are named from the German word for “hunter.” In order to fight these monsters, the world built powerful, lumbering machines called Jaegers.
Actor John Boyega (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Imperial Dreams”) takes on the role of Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba‘s character from the first film, the late Stacker Pentecost. Jake, a black market dealer, replaces Charlie Hunnam‘s character Raleigh Becket in the lead role. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Boyega discusses how Jake’s illegal activities eventually get him into trouble and he is forced to join the Jaeger Program. Scott Eastwood joins Boyega as Nate Lambert, a past friend of Jake’s who may be holding a grudge against him. Actress Cailee Spaeny plays the role of Amara Namani, an “amateur Jaeger pilot […] who is building one of her own battle-bots.”
Charlie Day and Burn Gorman return as Dr. Newt Geiszler and Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, the quirky scientist duo that helped defeat the Kaiju threat in the first film. Rinko Kikuchi reprises her role as Mako Mori, Stacker’s adopted daughter and Becket’s fellow pilot.
In addition to new faces, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” brings a few notable differences. The Jaegers are sharper, shinier and cleaner upgrades from the metal monsters first created to defend the world. The story pictured in the first film is darker and grittier. DeKnight’s version seems altogether brighter … and perhaps a bit plastic. This change has not gone unnoticed. Reactions to the trailer (and the unfortunate remix of Tupac‘s “Untouchable”) range from excitement to skepticism. As the comments on the official YouTube trailer point out, the Jaegers (and characters) in this sequel seem to lack the weight of the original, physically in the case of the Jaegers and emotionally in the case of the characters. Snazzy one liners, repetitive slow motion and flashy, glittering explosions are more suggestive of Michael Bay‘s Transformers films rather than del Toro’s gripping style.
Nonetheless, the “Pacific Rim: Uprising” trailer packs plenty of exciting action. We see Boyega in full Jaeger pilot gear, delivering a powerful speech reminiscent of the last speech given by his father in the first film. While the trailer flashes through scenes of robot battles, smashed cities and bigger, badder monsters, the text in between boldly states that “In 2018, a new generation will rise up.” Will they be able to cancel the apocalypse for good?
Find out when “Pacific Rim: Uprising” hits theaters in March 2018.