At the end of the monsters-versus-robots flick “Pacific Rim” a breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is closed, closing a hole that allowed hellish creatures emerge and terrorize the entire world. But after the film earned $400 million worldwide, was that portal really remain closed?
No, of course not. And, with sincere apologies to the front-line cities on the Pacific ocean with views of a mauling, we say fortunately, because the new sequel, “Pacific Rim Uprising” is a visually stunning, expertly crafted dose of cheer-on-the-screen fun. It is the definition of what a blockbuster sequel should be.
“Pacific Rim Rebellion” makes use of a lighter palette, and is aimed at a younger audience than the 2013 predecessor, but it holds all the important elements, upping the special effects and finding honest moments and humor in the middle of the world-the destruction of the massacre. It satisfies on all fronts.
Success was not destined for the sequel. Original writer Travis Beacham and director-writer Guillermo del Toro is still not back (though del Toro is still a producer), nor the original stars Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. (Elba had a very good reason for not showing up: He blew himself up in the last moments of the original to keep the Pacific portal closed).
Steven S. DeKnight, who created and ran the TV series ‘Spartacus’ on Starz, was tapped to direct while del Toro focused on the smaller monster movie “Shape of Water.” DeKnight also worked with Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T. S. Nowlin to craft the new story, which champions the outsiders and misfits, as well as celebrating improvised families, and teamwork. Plus, some things plagued.
A step back for anyone who is not familiar with this terrible near future: Aliens have sent giant monsters called Kaiju to soften us people of the world to dominate. But we have 270-metre-high robots, called Jaegers to fight back. They are so large they need to be manned by pairs of entrepreneurs who build a neural bridge between their minds so that they can work together.
The new film opens in 2035, 10 years after the last Kaiju was defeated and the breach closed. It is the silence before the storm. Our heroes now are Jake (John Boyega), the rebellious son of Elba’s character, and the teenager pointed Amara (Cailee Spaeny), which builds its own Jaeger out of spare parts. Together they form the army to help fight against a new opponent — a rogue Jaeger that comes out of the sea and stomps around menacingly. It quickly became clear that there is a conspiracy going on.
Boyega, fresh from his “Star Wars” gig, it’s great here, is a handsome rogue who struggles under his father’s shadow, but soon earns the respect of his colleagues. “We are a family and we are Earth’s last defense,” he says. He and Spaeny a simple report and some of the moments between them seem really charming and goofy.
Charlie Day and Burn Gorman reprise their roles as squabbling scientists, and Rinko Kikuchi is back as the adopted daughter of Elba’s character. The rest of the cast is multi-ethnic, competent, and very moist. The robots have now hologram the interior and the monsters seem to be less homages to the movie last Kaijus and more designed to be permanently angry of our dreams.
As the first film, the fights were often in the rainy dark, “Pacific Rim War” embraces the light. Cities will be flattened during the day, the monsters and robots slug. Skyscrapers with holes, debris falls down and the cars get nicked around. The connection between special effects and human actors is seamless and amazing. The level of detail of complex cities such as Shanghai and Tokyo to the icescapes of Siberia — is brilliant.
The filmmakers have left del Toro’s political accents — pollution as a factor in the creature attacks and the building of a wall to stop them, for example — but wisely adopted his sly humor. In a big fight series, huge monsters and robots trade punches and buckles, pancakes on the street and offered to a stomping, thunderous stop, only a little urging, a parked cherry red classic in the process. The small car ‘ s alarm quickly wails indignantly. Those little details — the Music played in a tense elevator during an invasion or a battle next to a museum dinosaur exhibition — leaven the violence.
A part of the success of the “Pacific Rim” films is that they cobbled together enough elements from other movies to make them familiar still newish. They thank “Blade Runner,” “Independence Day,” “Minority Report”, “Star Wars” and, of course, the “Transformers” — and not to mention every Godzilla movie ever made — a number of residues. But they have also defined and implemented in their own world and language.
It may not be nuanced, but it taps into something mythic — ferocious monsters rise up from nothing to be battled by the 21st century swordfighters. And it’s exciting, as a triumphant Jaeger looking down at a fallen opponent after a climactic fight and insouciantly lifts his middle finger. “Pacific Rim Rebellion” is so convinced of itself that it is, in principle, promises a third film as the end credits roll. We can’t wait.
“Pacific Rim Rebellion,” a Universal release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some of the language.” Running time: 111 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some materials may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits