Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Superhero Media: Pacific Rim Uprising

Why do I keep defending films that popular consensus has panned? Is it some masochistic intellectual exercise? Do I just like bad films? Or maybe, just maybe, I don't let other people's opinions dictate how I feel about media. Yeah. How about that? Following on from the surprise mega-hit of Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim Uprising takes place several years after the events of the previous film, with the world slowly rebuilding from the Kaiju attacks and the Jagers forming something of a global military. Jake Pentacost, tearaway son of Stacker, is living on the fringes of society, partying and wasting away his potential, when he encounters Amara and the pair are drawn back into the Jager Corps. One of the most interesting elements of Pacific Rim Uprising for me is in the first act, where Jake introduces a society of people living in abandoned mansions and scavenging damaged Jagers from the war to make money to import food and supplies; living a life of hedonism after years of enforced austerity. I would have liked that part of the film to be explored a little more, but there is no shortage of world-building in Pacific Rim Uprising

To avoid gaol, Jake and Amara are enrolled as Jager Corps Cadets, where they butt heads with entitled white people before there's a sideplot with rogue Jagers that goes nowhere and finally, more Kaiju attack in the third act. The look inside the more mundane processes of the Jagers and their crew is nice, as most Kaiju films don't bother with the workaday of the people tasked with defending the Earth, even if most of the characters we meet are pretty generic. I was fond of the "Rogue Jager" idea, and was disappointed when it turned out to be a red herring and just a way to introduce more Chinese characters for the bigger Asian box office. Once the Kaiju rock up, however, the action ramps up again and we're treated to more than half an hour of monster versus giant robot. The finale almost had me cheering when the Kaiju Voltron-ed together and tried to set of a volcanic chain-reaction to destroy the planet, the only solution for which was, naturally, mass-driving a Jager from orbit into the monster. Awesome. 

Pacific Rim Uprising isn't trying to be anything more than the sum of its parts, which I actually appreciated, despite the lack of depth when compared to the original. The Jagers being more agile and the story being more generic was fine, when I want my Kaiju films to have deeper meaning, I reach for Gamera 2 - Attack of Legion or Shin Godzilla, not Pacific Rim. This was fun, and there's really nothing wrong with a film where giant monsters attack giant robots just being fun. That's why the best American Kaiju films are Kong Skull Island and Godzilla II King of the Monsters, because they embrace the subject matter without trying to be something more than fun and solid films. I hope there is another Pacific Rim, even if it is more like Uprising and just a fun romp with big Kaiju fights, because I want to see the genre get more exposure in English speaking markets. Hopefully I can also find an affordable Jager for my Kaiju gaming.

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