1. Wait, What
One of the conflicts within the first Pacific Rim movie was that the Jaeger program was considered a failure, and that the jaegers were being phased out, and funding was being shut down so that resources could be shifted to building the Wall of Peace. This is while category 3 and 4 kaiju were coming out of the breach at a regular pace. It was expounded upon that jaegers were massively expensive, and they simply could not justify the cost. Ten years later we see that the jaeger program is rocking and rolling despite a decade kaiju free. There are a few towers left of the Peace Wall, but there are scads of jaegers, and robust bases around the Pacific Ocean, and the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps look like rockstar fighter pilots. After truly massive wars, militaries are gutted. The resources of a country are no longer required to pump up armies and munitions and can be spent on rebuilding civilian infrastructure.
2. Obsidian Fury
The rogue jaeger Obisidian Fury shows up with twin flaming chainsaw swords and engages in a massive throw down with Gypsy Avenger and the rest of the PPDC present at Sydney. Keeping with the above point, jaegers are massive, expensive, and nations struggle to pay for them. Obsidian Fury appears, is labeled as a rogue unit, and no one is really upset by this. Just how many rogue jaegers have appeared in the Uprising timeline? Are we gearing towards warfare becoming jaeger versus jaeger? Nothing is said about this, but really, it is a pretty monumental issue. It would like the US navy encountering a foreign aircraft carrier as large and powerful as one of it's super carriers, and carrying better aircraft, and then, just escaping. Heyo, the US would lose it's shit trying to find out who had the resources to launch something bigger and better than a Nimitz.
3. John Boyega vs Idris Elba
Before I start this rant, I have to preface that I like John Boyega as an actor. His character, Jake Pentecost, is a young black man living in the wreckage of Los Angeles who loots the ruins of the wealthy and trades luxury items for basic goods. I love that we start off with basic stereotyping. We find out that Jake used to be a jaeger pilot, and there was animosity, and he left the PPDC to follow his own path. Sounds entirely derivative of Charlie Hunman's Raleigh Beckett. Jake spends too much time expounding that he isn't his father, Stacker Pentacost. It wanders into 'M'lady doth protest too much' and Jake never really digs himself into any sort of relatable character.
4. Fridging Mori
At the end of Pacific Rim, Herc Hanlon is the marshall of the remnant of the PPDC. At the beginning of Uprising, Mako Mori is the marshall of the vast PPDC. There is no real lead up as to how in less than a decade, a rookie pilot would have rocketed to the top position. The only reasons that I could come up with was that there were conflicts of schedules that only allowed Rinko Kikuchi to reprise her role, and that it would looked better for the social diversity hawks if there was an asian woman in charge, rather than a white Australian guy. But then, rather than allowing Mori to demonstrate her chops, she is killed, flying away in a helicopter, and avenging her death becomes Jake's motivation. Congrats on turning an impressive character from the first film into a sexist stereotype. Oh Noes, the Object of Male Affection has been killed, better Man Up and avenge her death.
5. Drones, Drones Everywhere
The Drone program being pushed is fine, though the restraining factor for the jaeger program wasn't so much the pilots as it was the cost of the machines. Building self propelled jaegers reduces the need for pilots, but does nothing to address the cost of the machines. THat's fine though, that isnt where my beef is. The remote cores, the way they work, everything mimicks the mass production evas from Neon Genesis Evangelion. While Pacific Rim took a TON of inspiration from NGE, this doesn't feel like homage, it feels derivative. The betrayal of the drones, the kaiju goo inside of them, feels unsatisfactory. The way they were eliminated was likewise weak. A mad dash of Hollywood hacking makes them go boom inside the head.
Really? GTFoutta here.
6. Amara Namani, Mary Sue
Amara Namani is a Mary Sue. She is a Mary Sue on par with Rey from the new Star Wars movies. She is a wasteland dweller, looting jaeger boneyards and ruins and BY HERSELF BUILDS A JAEGER. This is like a kid in Arizona breaking into an airforce boneyard and building a small custom jet fighter. She also, after a couple of drifting montages, becomes a competent jaeger pilot. In the previous film, it is demonstrated that drifting is hard, and it takes years of training, and even then it isn't a sure thing. Finally, after the drones go Order 66 and gut the PPDC, Amara is then integral in kitbashing the surviving jaegers together into fighting machines ready to face three kaiju. Like Rey, Amara shows almost no development or growth through the arc of the film. Jake embraces his heritage, Geisler goes fully evil, Hermann becomes more of a leader figure, and so forth. Amara is still just... plucky?
7. Pacific Rim rips itself off
Uprising pretty much copies Pacific Rim for terms of story. This is intended to be an unflattering comparison, because the points of conflict, the stakes, the circumstances, are all entirely too similar to the first movie. Gypsy Danger is suicided into the Breach carrying a Nuke, wrapped in the corpse of a category 5 kaiju. Gypsy Avenger is kamakazied into the uber Kaiju on the side of Mount Fuji. Amara and Mako Mori are thematically the same. Jake Pentecost and Raleigh Beckett are the same character archetype. I would have liked to have seen the film go a different direction rather than just rehash the original.
Overall, I give Pacific Rim: Uprising a dismal 2.5/5. It is worth a watch, but only if you were super into the original film, or just like anything with giant robots.