Call the prosecutor! I want to charge the people behind the deafening man vs. machine actioner “Pacific Rim: Uprising” with assault and battery — on my senses. That includes my nose, which was offended by the odious odor emanating from this inferior sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s original.
In the hands of director and co-writer Stephen S. DeKnight — and three more scribes — the insipid “Uprising” does nothing but pander to its Asian overseas markets with cool characters who speak Mandarin and to 11-year-old gamers with cool mechs sporting even cooler names like Gipsy Avenger, Saber Athena, Bracer Phoenix, Obsidian Fury and Guardian Bravo.
Not even the charismatic duo of John Boyega (“Star Wars”) and Scott Eastwood (son of Clint) can save this hunk of molten metal from turning to slag. It’s a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots-meets-“Transformers” theme park ride — especially in Imax with the subwoofers cranked to 11 — with another ho-hum, save-the-world scenario.
We join the story 10 years after the world was saved from giant alien monster robots rising from the sea to destroy humanity in the Kaiju Wars. Guess what? They’re baaaack — bigger and badder. Luckily, the good guys have at their disposal the vaunted Jaegers, the equally gigantic battle bots possessed by the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps.
Boyega’s Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaegar pilot, reluctantly returns to the controls to join old partner Nate Lambert (Eastwood). Their shared dude chemistry adds some much-needed life, as they trade quips and insults about Nate’s good-looks and how neither can hook up with a particularly attractive pilot (Adria Arjona). The script also sends “junk yard baby” Amara Namani (newcomer Cailee Spaeny) who Jake tangles with in the film’s opening, to the Jaeger Academy to train on the finer points of piloting these massive mechs.
A large supporting cast includes: Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, reprising their roles as mad scientists spewing phrases like “Kaiju blood” and “neural handshake”; Rinko Kikuchi returns as Jake’s sister; Tian Jing plays a corporate tech magnate; and a team of young actors round out the eight cadets (Karan Brar , Wesley Wong, Ivanna Sakhno, Mackenyu Mackenyu, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez , Rahart Adams, Levi Meaden). It’s a lot of characters to keep track, and even more dialogue to process in a movie that is pretty talky.
The script doesn’t care if you keep up, because it’s not about story, it’s all spectacle. And there’s nothing to see. The special effects are so cheesy you can practically see the green screen. The rest is loud thuds and clanks, punctuated with battle scenes — the kind that move so fast with quick, slapdash editing, that you can’t tell who’s fighting whom. A little heart would have gone along way, but Knight (executive producer of TV’s “Daredevil”), making his feature film debut, doesn’t deal in emotion. It’s standard-issue junk; just slick enough to look like there might something of substance going on.
— Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
“Pacific Rim: Uprising”
Cast: John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Rinko Kikuchi, Jing Tian.
(PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.)