Pacific Rim returns with a sequel that boasts more CGI than its predecessor and definitely more Chinese (thank the China box office that made the sequel possible in the first place) and much more mayhem.

Steven DeKnight replaces Guillermo del Toro in the directorial seat, the latter too busy winning Oscars and the former making his transition from television to the big screen. While the original film did not feel like a del Toro creature feature, it still managed to hold onto tiny subtle directorial trademarks, but with Uprising, there is hardly any trace of the creator’s fingerprints left. Instead, the sequel feels more like to a reboot.

John Boyega of Star Wars fame takes on the main role of Jake Pentecost, the son of the late Stacker Pentecost played by Idris Elba. The voiceover narration at the beginning gives us a quick recap of the Kaiju infested world war of the prequel and also makes us known that Jake is not his father. A hardcore partygoer and thief, Jack steals Jaeger parts to get by. When one job goes awry, Jake ends up in jail with Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). While both leads are charismatic, one can’t help but note the lack of chemistry between them, a common flaw throughout the rest of the characters in the film.

Both Jake and Amara receive a second chance when his adopted sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) bails him out and reenlists him in the Jaeger program to train a new generation of Jaeger pilots including Amara. Jake comes to face his former nemesis in the form of Scott Eastwood’s Nate Lambert who takes every possible chance to taunt Jake. The Jaeger program comes under threat from Shao Corporation’s drone initiative that allows remote control of a Jaeger, developed by Liwen Shao (Jian Tian) and Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day). While characters such as Day’s and Kikuchi’s return along with Gottlieb played by Burn Gorman, one can’t help but wonder what happened to Charlie Hunnam’s and Ron Perlman’s characters whose absence goes without a mention.

The drone program is given the greenlight when a rogue Jaeger attacks the PPDC council meeting in Sydey where Mako is due to give her final assessment of the program. The battle scenes, although clad in obvious CGI are fun to watch and the 3D adds to sell the larger than life fight scenes. Sitting in the theatre, the child in me enjoyed the film despite the lack of a compelling storyline, but what more can one expect from a Kaiju film.

Apparently, plans have been laid for a crossover with Legendary’s monsters including Godzilla and King Kong. While I found that the end credits paralleled the opening credits of 2014’s Godzilla, I couldn’t help but wonder how the studios plan on a crossover especially when the tonal values of the two franchises differ vastly.

Pacific Rim Uprising is a good study in how to get a sequel made despite a lacklustre local box office. Five years and millions of dollars later, one can be sure that the next film won’t take as long to hit theatres.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is now playing at EAP theaters and Liberty Cinemas.

By Akash Sk