Pacific Rim Uprising is the Citizen Kane of popcorn flicks. It is a big, dumb, cliched, loud, exciting, action-packed, awesome hunk of a film, devoid of any engrossing story, characters, or themes, yet extremely fun to watch regardless.
I feel that critics, including myself, often undervalue purely fun movies, prioritizing what interesting characters or deep ideas a film has over how entertaining it actually is to experience. A movie doesn’t have to be art to be worthwhile. If a film doesn’t care in the slightest about weaving an interesting narrative or characters yet still manages to be overwhelmingly fun to watch, then you probably won’t care either. That is Pacific Rim Uprising. It has extremely cliched and paper-thin characters, a nonsensical and unoriginal storyline, and you won’t care, because the film is full of so many funny lines, exhilarating action sequences, awesome monsters, and fist-pumping, chear-inducing, epic moments.
The movie knows who its audience is. Nobody is watching it for the story or the characters; nobody is searching for the deeper themes and complex philosophical concepts of Pacific Rim Uprising. People see this movie to watch giant robots punch giant monsters while leveling every skyscraper in sight, and every moment of the film that is not that is spent driving the plot towards the next action sequence, while characters recite funny lines to keep the audience entertained until the carnage resumes. Pacific Rim Uprising is so conscious of its purpose that the second the last monster is killed, the film ends and the credits begin to roll, as if the movie was literally saying to the audience, “The action is over. You can go now.”
If you have ever seen Top Gun, Starship Troopers, Independence Day, or really any alien invasion or action film in recent history, your probably already are familiar with the plot of this picture. There is a snarky, young rebel who is great at fighting the aliens but dropped out of the military because of his disrespect for rules and authority and his unwillingness to live in his heroic father’s shadow. He is brought back alongside a plucky, young soldier who is a prodigy who everyone underestimates, and, while the soldier and the prodigy are at odds at first, the adversity of the alien invasion brings them together to save the world.
This film is hardly even a sequel to the first Pacific Rim, which this movie correctly assumes nobody remembers the plot of. The first two minutes of the film is the main character retelling the story of the first film directly to the audience as a way of saying, “In case you forgot, here’s the framing device for all of today’s action,” rendering the entire plot of the first instalment in this franchise almost meaningless.
The film is conscious of how barren and cliched its story is; it knows what it’s supposed to do: deliver crazy monsters and heart-pumping action. While I hate other unoriginal, unmemorable, and uninteresting popcorn flicks, Pacific Rim Uprising cares so little, that you don’t care either. It has a singular mission and executes it with gusto. It’s never slow, never boring, and overflowing with funny lines, crazy creatures, and over-the-top amazing and exciting robot-fighting action. It will leave you breathless and overdosed on happiness.
It may not be a timeless movie, but it’s fun and that is enough. I will give Pacific Rim Uprising a B+.
By Sam Finbury