By Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer
The “Power Rangers” … I mean “Pacific Rim” sequel has finally hit theaters. Even though Guillermo Del Toro did not direct this film, he does have a producer credit. Steven S. DeKnight, known for his work on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Daredevil,” took on the helm of director. The main characters are played by John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny.
To put it plainly, I liked this movie a lot more than I probably should. It is a ludicrous film, but it kind of works.
Seeing the first “Pacific Rim” is not necessary to understand the world of this film. It helps but is not required. The film has about five minutes of opening exposition that gives a recap of its predecessor.
As usual, John Boyega does solid work in his role. He plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost, formerly played by Idris Elba, from the first film. He is a cocky screw-up who is constantly trying to, in some capacity, prove himself worthy of his father’s name. The execution is not flawless but is serviceable enough to give his character some depth.
Amara, played by Cailee Spaeny, also does well in her role. She plays an orphan who has a knack for building things; she builds and operates her own miniature Jaeger, which are the giant robots featured in the film. Amara eventually runs into Jake, and they are fairly connected for the remainder of the film in a sort of brother-sister dynamic. She and Boyega work off each other well. They start the film as reluctant allies and help each other all throughout the film, making their eventual cohesion all the more believable. Spaeny has talent and I hope good things await her acting future.
No film such as this would be complete without action. When it occasionally happens, it is fun to watch. For one thing, the scenes occur mostly during daylight hours, which made the action clearly visible. The fights feel as epic as they look, and the destruction observed speaks for itself.
The deaths are also not quick and painless. While not outright brutal, they could make a stomach turn. A head is cut off, some of the Kaiju (the giant monsters in the film) are split in half, and someone has the head of their Jaeger crushed with them still inside.
However, I am not completely sure how safe any civilians caught in the crossfire would be. Yes, the film does make a point to say that people are in protective shelters but given that Kaiju can burrow underground and come back up for surprise attacks, there is no guarantee that the protective shelters will be helpful.
More importantly, when the action occurs, it is for all intents and purposes, “Power Rangers.” Each Jaeger has its own distinct design, function, and fighting style not unlike the Power Ranger zords. They are piloted by humans and fight giant monsters. The similarity is a bit more than coincidence.
The inspiration from “Power Rangers” is most obvious in the latter half of the movie and the climax, specifically when discussing the villain. His actions are so ridiculous that the hilarity observed does not go unnoticed. Furthermore, his character, without going into spoilers, does something that will make viewers either laugh or groan when considering how crazy what he is doing is.
They may also find it amusing how similar the action is to what a certain villain does in her own television series.
One aspect of the film that legitimately bothered me is that most of the supporting characters, while relatively useful when it counted, did not have much in terms of character development. Most of them are relegated to piloting other robots or working in the science lab. For example, there is a character that shows up during the climax and helps defeat the Kaiju. When she showed up, I could not and still cannot recall anything of note about her character. I appreciate that everyone in the film had something to do. However, I wish that I remembered more than a fifth of them.
Also, the film could have used a smoother landing than the one it had for the conclusion.
This is a big, absurd action film with a whole lot of problems. However, I would be lying if I said I did not have a good time viewing it. Many may not share my opinion, but “Pacific Rim: Uprising” gets a seven out of ten. The film is in theaters nationwide now.