Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

“Why would I do this?”

Sitting through Pacific Rim: Uprising is pretty comparable to watching friends play video games for two hours. There’s plenty of action, lots of explosions and gunfire, hoorah battle cries and rivaled bickering. But there’s hardly any opportunity for those of us left on the outskirts of control to find the slightest level of investment. It’s hard to understand the enthusiasm or to really ever care when the feeling isn’t coming from a shared experience, and this movie barely registers a blip on the radar of entertainment because it’s like everything you’ve ever seen before. This is fast-food filmmaking on an epic, buffet style scale.

Basically the Little Tikes version of Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 original – an above average blockbuster that valued humanity over catastrophe – Pacific Rim: Uprising does so little in terms of character development that I can’t remember a single name or motive or meaning. Turns out Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) doesn’t want to follow in his late father’s footsteps. Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood, who I must say still hasn’t learned to act) plays top dog for recruits hoping to pilot the massive Jaeger robots, which stand as the world’s last line of defense from gigantic, predatory aliens. Charlie Day reprises his role as a scientist and now a de facto bad guy. I’ll gladly stop there because Pacific Rim: Uprising doesn’t really care about the people in its own story even though it pretends to. Steven S. DeKnight appropriately only gets the grand destruction done right.

I wouldn’t call Pacific Rim: Uprising an altogether unnecessary film, although I do question whether audiences really demanded another quest in this doomsday saga. These movies have done decent enough business here in the States. However, the real money lies overseas, which explains the movie’s approach. Very few films get released in this many markets and Pacific Rim Uprising makes its production budget back because it embeds fake culture and globalism into its processed product. People are going to eat this up, not because it has value, but because it allows them to eat dessert first while spitting their veggies out into a carefully hidden napkin. Sure, junk can taste good. That doesn’t mean it ain’t junk either, though.

What draws people to the drive-thru window of countless “restaurants” all across the country – and oftentimes more than once per day – isn’t the taste of the fatty, oversalted food, but more so the comfort of knowing that their levels of expectation will be met. Eat a Big Mac in Indiana and it will taste the exact same out in California. Scarf a late night Doritos Locos Taco in Florida and it’ll go down just the same if you’re in Arizona. This isn’t cooking; it’s mass construction on a continental scale. And I have to say that Pacific Rim: Uprising gave me the same kind of love/hate relationship. I liked it because the film jumpstarted my memory and I hated it because the script is in shambles. Maybe I’m to blame for expecting something new or a refreshing twist on this rock ’em sock ’em happy meal.

“That was supposed to be epic, but it wasn’t.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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