PG-13, but mostly for monster gore and monster fighting. I mean, what else could there be? Yeah, we have PG-13 language, but I'm sure we all expect that at this point. The violence tends to involve swords and body parts blowing up, but they are monsters. Monsters probably deserve to get their heads all 'sploded. That's why they are so huge, so gore just gets everywhere. The protagonist likes to drink in excess, but that's just for a scene at the beginning as part of a montage. He's not the most noble character at the beginning, but that's basic character arc things. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Steven S. DeKnight
I'm about to collect a huge stack of papers from my students, so I know that I won't have time to write these later in the week. If I seem tired, please forgive me. It took me an oddly long time to getting around to see it. When it first came out on Blu-ray, I got my copy from Netflix DVD.com (whatever it's called). It then sat there on the backburner because I gave myself a million projects for the podcast. I also knew that my wife would have no interest in seeing this one. She didn't see the first one and I knew which way the wind was blowing. So I kept putting it off and off. But now I work out before anyone wakes up, so it was finally time. There's something remarkably punk rock about loving Guillermo del Toro. The first movie got such a pass in my heart because I knew he made it. That's completely wrong of me, but I also know that I love that movie because he made it. I mean, the movie by itself is pretty darned great. But I know that snobby me who loves Criterions and movies in French would be ignoring this. But Pacific Rim made me like the idea of kaiju movies. Sure, that hasn't translated as one-to-one as one would have thought. But Steven S. DeKnight is also a pretty impressive name to be attached to a project.
The problem is...I didn't know that. There's a thought process that ran through my head as I watched this movie that is really interesting. I kept enjoying it. But I also know that Guillermo del Toro didn't direct this one. (I was pretty annoyed by that, but I shouldn't be surprised when del Toro doesn't show up for stuff. He's burned me there before.) So I kept liking this movie and felt like I was some kind of saint for liking it. But I also acknowledge that I don't like it as much as the first one. I think, as a culture, that we shouldn't use the first movie as a litmus test for future entries. Only a few movies get better in the second film. But we tend to lose our minds when a sequel isn't as good as the original. Uprising takes a long time to get on its feet. The actual plot doesn't really start until about halfway through the movie. Rather, DeKnight has to stall a little bit, so instead we worry about worldbuilding. Del Toro tells the story of a world that is constantly decimated by giant monsters. (I think I might have a plot point that needs to be argued that I just thought about while writing about this.) Yeah, it's the smart move to not remake Pacific Rim exactly. Instead, DeKnight gives us a world post victory. I don't know what the economic landscape of Pacific Rim is, but it doesn't make a ton of sense. Those Jaegers have to be insanely expensive, but we don't have money for corpse disposal a decade after the final battle? But living in this world is interesting...but not as interesting as a world that is used to monster attack. The tension is way down in Uprising, but I suppose it kind of has to be.
Okay, SPOILER HEAVY QUESTION: The big thing in this one that Scott Eastwood (from Fast and Furious fame) brings up is that we don't really achieve victory until we know the motive behind our enemy's attack. It's very cool sounding and, being a Chekhov's gun for the film, gets explained. The problem that the folks in Uprising have to deal with is why the precursors (watch the film) used Kaiju to attack humans. It seems wildly inefficient to use giant monsters to wipe out humanity. I read it in Pacific Rim that it was just what they had at their disposal, so that was the end of it. Okay, now, it has been a while since I watched part one. I've seen it three times or something. But this movie posits that the kaiju were trying to get to Mount Fuji because there are rare minerals that would wipe out all life on Earth? My big question is, why didn't the kaiju wipe out the people in the first movie. The first kaiju shows up, right? We don't have Jaegers, so why wouldn't it just decimate the planet before we had the technology to fight back? This plot is killing me right now. When I was watching it, I didn't think about these things. I was just like, "oh, that's cool." But now it seems like a bit of a plothole. Maybe there is a problem with writing analyses about what you see. I can't do anything passively anymore. I mean, this doesn't kill the movie for me, whatsoever. Okay, maybe a little, but I'm sure it's fine. That's kind of the problems with sequels in general though. The first one really closes up the story quite nicely. Don't get me wrong. I would love to live in a world where Pacific Rim sequels are popular and we get one every few years. But the narrative is done. We can compare this to the first and second Matrix movies. In the first Matrix film, the whole story is told. It is clear that Neo is going to save humanity from that last shot. No questions are really asked. After all, he can fly. But then we have to dial back what actually happened in the first film to make the second one work. Uprising is mostly a film without kaiju. Humanity has to become its own enemy, and then there has to be a grasp at a loose thread from the first one. I like where the loose thread is pulled from. I'm going to talk about that in a second. But it does seem like a bit of a stretch to think that we could have a kaiju problem again after the finality of the first film. Like I said with my Castlevania podcast, the more powerful a character is, the more incompetent they have to be to lose. By that logic, humanity has to be pretty incompetent to let all of this happen.
Now, the twist was pretty great. I am going to give Pacific Rim: Uprising for pulling the most unique twist I've seen. BIG SPOILER STUFF: Uprising might be the first movie where I figured out the basic twist, but there was a far better twist underneath. I got that the drones were intentionally meant to stage the disaster. It's telegraphed and I was actually disappointed with the movie for telegraphing it so hard. But then Charlie Day ended up being the big bad guy. Didn't see it. I thought that he might have been helping the bad guy either willingly or unwillingly, but that he was the big bad got me. I kind of like when the heroes of the first film end up being the villains of the sequels. I don't know what button is being pressed to make that happen, but I appreciate it. I also love that Charlie Day doesn't really change his personality. He acts the exact same way that he did in the first movie, but now he's evil. I love Charlie Day. I know that he only really has one character, but with different levels of intellect. I don't care. That character is great and I could watch him in all kinds of stuff. He's great. He's great as a villain. Part of my heart breaks that he has to go against Burn Gorman, but that's fine in the long run. I didn't need that part of my heart anyway. But that element makes it fun. And that's what Pacific Rim: Uprising is, fun. It is a lot of fun. Yeah, DeKnight has to delay to get to the big monster fight. The entire movie can't be monster fights. So there is character stuff. Those characters are compelling enough to keep me invested before the monsters start fighting. I don't know if I love John Boyega's back story with Idris Elba, mainly because I feel like that narrative has been told before. But I love John Boyega. Yeah, Cailee Spaney is a bit of an archetype. But it is an archetype I like. I like her tiny little Jaeger. I don't get why Viktoria is so over the top with her, outside of the fact that the movie needed tension. But this is a movie of tropes that doesn't really care that they are tropes. I knew Scrapper was going to get in on the final fight. Who cares? The movie is fun and baller and I can watch that kind of stuff all the time.
I guess that's what Pacific Rim really is. It's a fun action movies for people who think too hard. Sometimes it is fun to really just let loose and acknowledge that awesome things are indeed awesome. Sometimes, a giant robot punching a giant monster is all I need to have a good time. There's quality to how the movie is made, so that's what makes the difference in the long run. I want to pretend that there are layers here, but instead, it's just fun.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.