Ten years have passed since the glorious victory of humanity against the alien invaders. Since then, peace has returned and the giant robots – called hunters – are only used as a precautionary measure. Jake Pentecost ( John Boyega ) should also have been one of the pilots who train for emergencies – just like his father once did. But somehow it never really worked out. Instead, he now makes his living buying old hunter components. That is dangerous, but above all, highly illegal. When he and the young inventor Amara Namani ( Cailee Spaeny) are caught red-handed, he nevertheless returns to the lap of the metal giants. After all, the alternative is jail. But it gets worse: he has to work with his hated rival Lambert ( Scott Eastwood ) when one day an enemy robot attacks and suddenly everything is on the table.
Is it coming or not coming? For a long time it was a bit in the stars whether the sequel to the action spectacle Pacific Rim would appear or not. Even before the first part was published, Guillermo del Toro had openly spoken of a possible successor. But the box office results spoke against it, ending up somewhere in the no-till country. Successful enough that a second part wasn’t ruled out, but not successful enough that there absolutely had to be one. In the end, however, the hopeful voices were louder. Mainly because China really enjoyed the first appearance. And the idea of being able to tap into the mass market there, that makes the dollar signs shine in the eyes of the studio bosses.
So that the Middle Kingdom contributes a little more to sales this time, part of the film was then moved there. What’s more, with Jing Tian , a pretty young Chinese woman was also integrated into the plot, as bait, so to speak. This ingratiation to the fat market is certainly not subtle, but fits better with a story that is already geared towards multinationality than with many other examples. Japan fans don’t have to worry if the big competitor plays along here. Because the motherland of the giant robots and Kaijus – whom del Toro paid tribute to Pacific Rim: Uprising – may play a bigger role this time too.
Nevertheless, it is precisely this international aspect that is disappointingly unimportant the second time around. With an insanely original story, the science fiction opener could not serve even with the first invasion. Huge robots on one side, huge monsters on the other. There’s not much to say about that. The attraction was at least partly due to the fact that each country manufactured its own hunters and pursued its own strategies. Pacific Rim: Uprising was not yet profound, but it provided enough visual variety and moody rivalry.
In Pacific Rim: Uprising lacks completely. It is also missing because there are practically no robots and far fewer monsters. In the first half in particular, you think you might have wandered into the wrong cinema after all, when constant quarrels between the human protagonists replace the fights of yore. This is also so tragic because the characters are again pretty boring. And they have multiplied. In 2018, in addition to the two main stereotypes, we will have to deal with a whole bunch of teenagers who take the science fiction adventure uncomfortably close to a high school soap opera.
The three returnees from the first part are still the most fun: Rinko Kikuchi as a tough pilot, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as nerdy scientists. But even they fail to justify the uninspired sequel in any way. Only towards the end, when things get down to business and the battles take on larger proportions, does the entertainment factor make a noticeable return. Together with the compressed show values, that is still just enough for the average. But if it really should become a whole cinematic universe, like director Steven S. DeKnight fantasizes, the next time a lot more has to happen than twiddling your thumbs for almost two hours.
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