Now the world is safe from the giant monsters, or Kaiju as they were known, it seems the future may be brighter, though even over a decade after their defeat the evidence of their presence still has its effects, with some places mostly destroyed by them remaining in ruins. That's fine for Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of one of the heroes of the battle between monsters and Earth's giant robots, or Jaegers, who likes to party in partially hit mansions and duck and dive to make his way through life, even if it means bending or breaking the rules. But one day, when he is out to liberate some Jaeger machinery from a broken down shell, he meets someone unexpected...
Pacific Rim, the original, was conceived as a tribute to the kaiju movies director Guillermo Del Toro saw in his youth, wishing to replicate that sense of spectacle for a new audience who had not grown up watching Godzilla smash up Tokyo in fictional form. It must have been a boost to his ego when that was a big hit across the world, though not so much in the United States which may have been surprised to see a sequel released, but America was no longer now the be-all and end-all of a film's success, as markets such as Europe and China were making their own blockbusters and enabling items that may have previously been judged flops into financial boons to the studios.
Not to mention crafting blockbusters of their own, not necessarily worldwide but with enough appeal to certain sections of the globe to prove lucrative. Therefore Pacific Rim: Uprising came to be, with another British star in the lead in Boyega, making sure his Star Wars fame was not going to make him some flash in the pan, and lo and behold, this was another hit - just not really in America. The fact this ended with the promise of a third instalment was an indication the project was fully prepared for prosperity in the markets that had made the original so welcomed, and this was much the same formula as before, demonstrating they were not about to mess around with a winner.
In its opening stages Pacific Rim: Uprising generated unpromising echoes of the G.I. Joe or Transformers franchises, suggesting Del Toro, who remained on board as producer having decided not to direct this time, had blanded out the product to make it palatable as a strictly CGI-slathered adventure. Was there a brain in its head? Or had that brain been removed so the work could be powered by a robot, or worse, a blob of a monster? If those initial stages brought up misgivings with the square-jawed humour taking precedent, rarely a good sign, then after a while, assuming you had not given up, the glamour of watching the robots vs monsters action began to work its previous magic, and you may well be won over if you appreciated the first one. This had few pretensions to the intellectual.
Yet the message that empathy can succeed in dire situations was present and correct as before, put into practice as the Jaegers need two humans working in tandem through a psychic link to pilot them. Any quibbles about why not make them a one-pilot machine were glossed over with the message of how important it was to get along and unite, particularly when the world was in peril, although they may be lost in the kerfuffle, yet not as lost as you may have anticipated. There were teenage characters led by Cailee Spaeny who has built her own Jaeger (smaller version) and represented the younger generation as a beacon of hope, though the metaphors could be heard creaking and straining when the clang of metal against creature hides started to dominate the soundtrack. This was uncomplicated stuff, and didn't pretend to be much else, but darn if you didn't get engrossed in its hyperbole by the halfway mark; no classic, not of kaiju or otherwise, but not unwatchable either. Music by Lorne Balfe.