FILM: Pacific Rim: Uprising

 “Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Sometimes I see a movie that’s slow-paced but well made and well acted, sensitively portrayed and leaves me absorbed in thoughts about it- like the Oscar-nominated ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ for example.

But… this isn’t one of those times.

Today I review ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’- the movie that finally overtook ‘Black Panther’ at the box office after it was # 1 for 5 straight weeks. But what’s the big attraction that made ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ such a hit? Not the name cast. Other than John Boyega, who recently became a star from his appearances in the new ‘Star Wars’ movies, nobody else in the cast is a household name.

 l to r: Caily Spaeny, John Boyega, Scott Eastwood; via RogerEbert.com

And Boyega is one of the producers, as is Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro, who also directed the original ‘Pacific Rim’ feature back in 2013. Note he didn’t direct this sequel because, after he was told production would be delayed 9 months, instead of waiting he decided to direct ‘The Shape of Water’- and he won an Oscar for it.Steven DeKnight was brought in to direct.

One thing about the original ‘Pacific Rim’- it received almost universal praise for being a thoughtful sci-fi film with a heart. Now, I saw the ‘Uprising’ in 3-D and I liked the way they used that effect- it wasn’t overdone but it added depth to the visuals; a nice enhancement. This sequel is a wild action ride with several “C’mon guys- it’s our turn to save the world” kinds of scenes. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it could use some more heart. Sure, there is Boyega’s character, Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker, the hero character from the original film. Jake has charisma, but heart isn’t in as much supply here.

 via thewrap.com

Anyway, as the movie opens, he tells us- in voice over narration- “I’m not my father.” So it’s not really a spoiler if I tell you the film is about how he transforms himself into a hero, with help from his sister and Scott Eastwood, who plays his ‘frenemy,’ Nate Lambert- as well as a talented 15-year old girl, Amari, played by Caily Spaeny as a character similar to Daisy Ridley’s Rey, from ‘Star Wars.’

After the first part of the movie, which is essentially an enjoyable set-up to finally get all the heroes together, the main story- which certainly sounds silly when I describe it to you- is about how a genius, working inside a government military contractor, is having his mind controlled by aliens who want to destroy the world.

 The Bad Guys; twitter.com

He takes over an army of drone robot warriors, using them to breach the security bridge that kept the evil Kaiju monsters out- and, thanks to some quick thinking by a key scientist/inventor, only a few escape out into the world- but they attempt to trigger an apocalypse and have to be stopped by our heroes.

Sounds silly, right?

Sure- but it’s also a lot of fun because, unlike another film franchise with powerful robots who destroy tons of stuff (yes, I am talking about the ‘Transformers’) the characters in this story are really enjoyable, as are the special effects- and it is better written- here by a team of four writers, including director DeKnight.

All of which means if you are looking for a fun, escapist ‘save the world’ movie, ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ is a surprisingly good choice and I give it 3-and-a-half stars out of 5. You can call it a guilty pleasure- but, strangely, I don’t feel guilty telling you I enjoyed it.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews. This is Ed Katz talking movies for WICC 600!”

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