Pacific Rim Uprising and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Steven S DeKnight
Hey, remember when Pacific Rim was a thing? Yeah, it REALLY feels like a long time ago at this point, doesn’t it? I mean, it DID come out five years ago, but with The Shape of Water showing us what Guillermo del Toro is really capable of when he puts everything he’s got into a movie (and not just special effects),Pacific Rim is feeling more and more like an afterthought in his career. That being said, it WAS a really well made movie with a great turn by Charlie Day as a befuddled super science, and it led to him and his co-star Burn Gorman teaming up again for one of the best episodes of It’s Always Sunny; Flowers for Charlie! Now we’ve got a sequel that doesn’t have del Toro in the director’s chair and looks to be more of a big budgeted Transformers competitor instead of the more methodical and intense vibe of the first film which certainly isn’t a BAD direction to take the series in, but will they be able to pull it off? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place ten years after the events of the first film where Jake (John Boyega) who is the son of Idris Elba’s General Stacker Pentecost is NOT living up to his father’s legacy and is instead bumming around one of the many cities that were more or less abandoned after being hit by a Kaiju attack. Jake doesn’t like to play by the rules and would rather spending his time ripping parts out of retired giant robots known as Jaegers than to join the Pan Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) and continue his father’s legacy while also preparing for the next inevitable Kaiju attack. Too bad for Jake though because he runs into a fellow street hustler named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) who’s made her own mini-Jaeger but is soon busted along with Jake for having an illegal robot which is a thing now I guess. Anyway, Jake is faced with some serious jail time if he the cops throw the book at him, but his sister Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) who is a General in the PPDC offers him one more chance to set his life straight. Join back up with the PPDC and train some new recruits which will include Amara whose impressive robot making skills has caught the PPDC’s attention. So that’s it, right? It’s basically Top Gun but with robots! Well… not quite. While this is going on, we ALSO have to worry about the PPDC losing their favor with the rest of the world as a tech company led up by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) has developed Jaeger drones that can be piloted by ONE person instead of two, and can do so remotely which will pilots from having to climb into the robots themselves. Seems like a good idea, but if you know ANYTHING about sci-fi movies, there’s always some unforeseen consequences to overly mechanizing jobs that humans are also doing; ESPECIALLY jobs which involve deadly weapons! Not only that, but while this squabble is taking place, there are hints here and there that the Kaiju may be returning sooner than they all think! Can the PPDC and the Shao Corporation come to an understanding before even bigger threats will tear them both apart? Will Jake be able to finally stop running from his TORTURED BACKSTORY PAST (mostly involving Daddy Issues) in order to succeed in the one place where he truly belongs? Any chance we can just forget about that Power Rangers movie and just let the filmmakers behind this make one that’s ACTUALLY good?
“IT’S MORPHING TIME!!” “The heck it is! No way I’m wearing spandex in this thing!”
The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right? Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience. Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China. Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China. This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers. Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself! Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it. Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists. Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it. Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well. This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han). Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think? He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long. So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands! Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled. Will they make the right choice in the end? What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat? How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in? A hundred million? Two hundred million?