The Morning After: Mar. 26, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Pacific Rim: Uprising


Guillermo del Toro films have always had a core of warmth and humanity to them that make them stand apart from the more commonplace genre fare at the cineplex. While the original Pacific Rim was a bit on the outskirts of del Toro’s resume, it nevertheless felt like an inventive bundle of joy with an appreciation for storytelling with a monstrous bent. For Pacific Rim: Uprising, the emphasis is on the action and the spectacle. Giant robots fighting giant monsters to save the world. It’s like Transformers with more diversity, more compassion, and a significantly more compelling story at its heart, but one that gets lost in the weeds.

Years after the events of the first film, some cities have been rebuilt while others have languished as lawless environments where survival is built on a bartering system. It’s a socio political clime worth exploring, but which is jettisoned after its thrilling, if modestly facile opening chase sequence is concluded. From there, we learn that a Chinese firm has prepared led by company founder Liwen Shao (Tian Jing) has developed a series of remote drone Jaegers (the giant robots) that will make obsolete the slow-to-deploy behemoths of the past. At the heart of this technological advancement is one of two main carry-overs from the original film, scientist Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). Meanwhile, his fellow colleague, also in the prior film, Herman Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) has developed his own solution, a rocket thruster meant to launch the Jaegers anywhere.

The core of the plot is that someone is attempting to reopen the rifts to the other dimension and bring more Kaiju (the giant monsters) into our plane so they can finally enact the plan they had originally envisioned. The details of either plot would expose the most fascinating elements of the story here even if they are mishandled as the film plods along.

John Boyega leads a perfunctory cast of young actors who must face down the onslaught with bravery and conviction. Minor exploratory details of some of their pasts make for synopsis reading in the film giving us information about any of the characters. Boyega’s Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s character from the first film, is one of two that get some depth of focus, the other is co-lead Cailee Spaeny (Amara Namani), who is the film’s lone stand-out among performers. Also along for the ride is Clint Eastwood’s son Scott who seems to be present as a foil/support for Boyega’s character and who is referred to as attractive, which might be his sole purpose of presence. That Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi, a third minor return from the original, is given short shrift, suggests that most of the characters exist merely as vain stereotypes given simplistic narrative focus that evaporates once the action comes into full focus.

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