Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where today we’re looking at an American tokusatsu flick that’s currently in theaters – Pacific Rim Uprising! Spoilers will abound, so be warned.
Ten years after the end of the Kaiju War and the closure of the rift between dimensions, the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps has developed a new generation of Jaegers…that spend most of their time tracking down bootleg Jaegers. The Jaeger program is in danger of being replaced by a drone program…until the Kaiju suddenly and mysteriously return.
Pac Rim Uprising is the sequel to 2013 kaiju vs. mecha movie, Pacific Rim. It has an entirely new creative team, lead by former Daredevil showrunner and Joss Whedon protégé Steven S. DeKnight, as well as new…everything else, really.
- One definite improvement over the original is that all the major fight sequences occur during the day (and on the Earth’s surface). This gives the audience a better view of the action, something the movie takes full advantage of.
- Of the five new Jaegers, the coolest is undoubtedly Saber Athena. An EVA inspired orange number, it’s a basically a giant ninja dual wielding swords. It acrobatically flips around during the final fight sequence, kicking more Kaiju butt in thirty seconds than most of the Jaegers did in the entire first flick.
- Charlie Day gets to really stretch his acting legs in the first three quarters of the flick, although he’s shoved back into his typecast box for the big finale. His performance, however, excellent overall.
- The flick has a nifty, if blatant, shout out to Mobile Suit Gundam, the Japanese anime that revolutionized how giant robots were done.
- Major Spoiler ahead: the primary villains for most of the movie are Kaiju/Jaeger hybrids. These self-piloting cyborgs, including the badass Obsidian Fury (which feeds Gipsy Avenger its lunch in the first major fight sequence), are actually much more interesting than the straight Kaiju that show up in the third act.
The flick is a big, fun ride. You’ll note I didn’t talk much about characters because, frankly, there’s not much there in the flick. Most of the heroes are written as broad archetypes, and little time is spent getting to know any of them – even the leads, really. It puts meaningful character development on the back burner to start the giant robot action early and keep it running throughout, but does so in a way that is still satisfying. Far from a great film, it is a competent and enjoyable summer blockbuster.
Come Back Next Week for a New Installment of Strange Times & Places!