I couldn't care less about the first Pacific Rim when it was released in theaters. After the continuing disappointment of the Transformers movies, it's hard to get into giant fighting robots when all that hold them together are a piss-poor story and a world with as much depth as Megan Fox's acting.
The first Pacific Rim is not Oscar-winning material, but at least it put in a bit more effort in its world-building and story to go with its dirty robot matches. Directed by Guillermo (now "Freaky Fish Guy") del Toro, the film garnered a cult following strong enough to warrant a sequel five years later.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is not directed by Freaky Fish Guy, nor does it capture the sense of wonder and world-building its predecessor once had. This could stem from the fact that it is a sequel and therefore doesn't need to do as much explaining as the original, but all it does is stay in familiar territory without delivering an experience worth remembering.
Ten years after the gigantic ugly monsters called Kaiju were repelled from Earth, young Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) has left his father's legacy and the life of a Jaeger pilot to make it as a junker who steals and resells old Jaeger parts to the highest bidder. But after stumbling into Jaeger enthusiast Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) and getting caught by the law, his only chance of dodging prison life is by reenlisting as an instructor with Amara as his ward. Cue a well-timed plan to replace Jaeger pilots with remote-controlled drones and you have yourselves the makings of the world's biggest Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots tournament.
The plot is nothing to write home about but come on, if you were expecting hard hitting story beats from a Pacific Rim movie, then you're barking up the wrong mech. The sole reason anyone watches these movies is for the fight scenes - of which this one has plenty of.
After taking a few minutes to either set up or explain what is or will be happening, Uprising wastes no time in dropping in the next big action sequence. By far cleaner and easier to understand than any Transformers flick or even Pacific Rim which came before it, Uprising's giant fights mostly take place during the day or in brightly lit environments. This makes it a hell of a lot easier to enjoy a robot slicing the abdomen of its foe or watch a kaiju get its brains bashed in with an oversized flail. A lot can get lost in translation when filming high action CGI shots, but thankfully the brawls here are some of the most well-choreographed you will ever see.
Aaand... that's pretty much it. Everything else is ho-hum; from the script, to the plot, to the acting. While it's nice to see John Boyega act like the funny Brit he really is and Charlie Day portray the same role he has been playing for the entirety of his career, the movie overall is just downright boring.
There are no standout moments, no lines which will make people look back a month from now to remind them the movie is still in theaters. It's just... there.
I'd like to say fans of the original will love it, but even that's a tall order to fill. Pacific Rim took the time to build up its characters and the world they inhabit, eventually leading to the universe the sequel sets itself in. Uprising just runs with it and adds a couple of forgettable characters to go along with the series veterans.
It stumbles on its story and rushes things to get to the next action sequence. While it is nice that they know what makes the series work, it doesn't deliver anything to satisfy viewers who are looking for something more.
It's been a day since I watched the movie and already the brain cells in my head are clearing space out for something more worthwhile. If you love mindless robots beating the crap out of squishy aliens, the occasional evil robot, and not much else, then you'll get a kick out of Pacific Rim: Uprising. For those who like their films with a little more alien meat, there are other freaky fish in the sea.