Pacific Rim 3D: Uprising

John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Charlie Day and Cailee Spaeny star in the sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 sci-fi monster movie, Pacific Rim.

It has been ten years since The Battle of the Breach and the oceans are still, but restless. Vindicated by the victory at the Breach, the Jaeger program has evolved into the most powerful global defense force in human history. The PPDC now calls upon the best and brightest to rise up and become the next generation of heroes when the Kaiju threat returns.

Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 Pacific Rim featured heroes inside giant robot ‘Jaegers’ thumping enormous ‘Kaiju’ monsters, in a visual feast that suffered from the same lack of decent script and characters that plagues the technically stunning but story-stilted Transformers franchise. Del Toro’s a producer, but Steven S. DeKnight (former Spartacus and Daredevil TV showrunner) takes the director’s chair, delivering plenty of dynamic CG destruction, but without del Toro’s eye for Lovecraftian monsters and steampunk robots, this feels more like a teen-friendly reboot than a sequel.

The first film suffered from a two-dimensional hero, played by a sleepwalking Charlie Hunnam, here replaced by John Boyega as Jake, the son of Idris Elba’s now deceased Stacker Pentecost. Boyega is fun, lending a by-the-book ‘reluctant’ hero much-needed energy, but as his former buddy-turned-rival, Scott (son of Clint) Eastwood is so wooden that Jake’s catchphrase “I am not my father” may have better served him.

Rinko Kikuchi returns, kicking ass amongst a diverse, multicultural cast, proving Mako again to be the character most deserving of being Pacific Rim’s central protagonist. But we’re here for the robot v monster mayhem, and that’s where Uprising delivers in broad cartoon strokes of wholesale destruction. Despite characterisation and plotting about as deep as a puddle of Jaeger oil, the set-piece action scenes are cool to look at, with amiable if largely uninspired characters ensuring it all chugs along pleasantly enough. Sure, if you enjoyed the first, this sequel delivers, but not much beyond the whizz-bang visuals of the trailer.

Empire (UK)

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These Mark 6 Jaegers with their electric whips, "gravity slings" and plasma swords deliver all the giant robot thrills you could wish. Thanks to Boyega and Spaeny, you might even care about the human characters, too.

Total Film (UK)

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Respectable. Boyega adds real bounce and DeKnight delivers spectacle, even if the plot doesn't strain too far from the original's crash-bang formula.

Hollywood Reporter

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The sequel is an improvement on its predecessor in at least one respect: Its running time is twenty minutes shorter. Not that you feel it.

Variety (USA)

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Paint-by-numbers approach to franchise construction, replete with a formulaic promise of future installments that, on the basis of this entry, feels mostly like wishful thinking.

The Guardian (UK)

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The film in general moves at a sleeker pace, with more of an actual plot to match the shiny visuals. It's strange given that Del Toro, a newly minted Oscar-winning director, couldn't make a more entertaining film than Uprising's Steven S DeKnight,

Screen International

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Face-offs in Siberia and finally on the slopes of Mt. Fuji provide some welcome relief from the sameness of modern cities, the snow and ice adding an appealing new degree of difficulty to the same old fight.

Entertainment Weekly

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If you enjoyed 2013's Pacific Rim but secretly wished it was more like a vapid Transformers sequel, then you'll love Pacific Rim Uprising.