Pacific Rim: Uprising: Film ReviewCast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Tian Jing, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Steven S DeKnight
It's not the easiest of tasks these days to unleash a sequel to a film that somewhat underwhelmed at the global box office.
However, that's not troubling Pacific Rim Uprising, a film that simply goes about the business of carrying on and moving on the series after an apparent conclusion of the threat facing humanity.
But it does it all without a great deal of emotional heft, heart and depth.
Star Wars' John Boyega is the roguish Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba's Pacific Rim hero Stacker and who seems to be trapped in his father's shadow, endowed with a legacy he neither wants nor can avoid.
Having abandoned the corp of Jaeger pilots, Jake is a raffish con-man, trading in the second hand business of illegal Jaeger parts. Stumbling across young kid Cailee Spaeny's Namani (a cross between spunkish sidekick, and questioning exposition deliverer), he finds himself dragged back into the corps, just around the time a new Kaiju threat begins to rise.
Director and Spartacus and Daredevil helmer DeKnight delivers crisp, clear and clean CGI action sequences with a degree of workmanlike aplomb, something which needs to be commended in the days of blurred action (something which dogged Del Toro's first Rim) and there's much to be said for the diversity of the cast on display.
But despite Boyega's considerable charisma and presence during the film (something which keeps large portions of it all afloat), there's little else round the edges to nourish the lulls between set pieces.
What there is feels hoary and rote.
A squabbling group of grunts (see Ender's Game, Starship Troopers) with little characterisation on show, a weakly written reason for doing it all again and a growing feeling of being underwhelmed don't do Pacific Rim: Uprising much to distinguish it from the soulless vapidity of the Transformers franchise.
Granted, you don't expect Shakespeare from a B-movie about essentially, robots fighting monsters and smashing CGI cities to pieces, but there's a nagging feeling that more narrative heft could have added a great deal to Pacific Rim: Uprising, especially with the threat of a third franchise piece being teased pre-credits end.
It's supposed to be big dumb, pulpy and trashy, but Pacific Rim: Uprising manages to bestow a sense of tedium in the final round of proceedings, even though it's carried out its promise of robots vs monsters, thanks to a lack of emotional involvement.
Younger kids with parents will probably have a just-about-passable time at this - and that's to damn it with feint praise.
Boyega lends much credence and charisma to proceedings, and while daddy issues clearly appear to be the current crop of blockbusters' raison d'etre, (see Tomb Raider) the lack of emotional stakes is keenly felt as the script writers clearly desired their film to be about hitting a series of beats rather than deepening the engagement, widening the franchise and upending the scale.
At the end of the day, Pacific Rim: Uprising does what it says on the tin - and perhaps, just perhaps, we should be grateful said tin isn't a Hasbro branded one. Although, in truth, it isn't too far off it...