Robot/Monster battling comes home to blu-ray this week with Pacific Rim: Uprising, but is it worth picking up for your home entertainment collection? Check out my review to see my thoughts!
Somehow, Pacific Rim: Uprising is one of the few films I've managed to catch in theaters over this past year (though I didn't handle the initial review). I took my kids who love the idea giant robots punching even bigger monsters...I mean, who DOESN'T love that idea?
I enjoyed Uprising in theaters for what it was, but the same was true for the original Pacific Rim movie, which fell apart on me upon further viewings. As such, I was interested to see how the sequel would do once I had the chance to watch it again on blu-ray. Thankfully, I continued to enjoy Uprising, despite some niggling issues I have with it overall. Let's talk!
The plot isn't exactly what you thought it might be. It's been 10 years since the events of the first film, and the world has moved on. Jaegers are still around, but they're tools of larger military/governments around the world. Each one has to be registered and accounted for, while the technology from them is a hot commodity on the black market.
When a rogue Jaeger shows up at a major event and takes everyone by surprise, things begin to unravel. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of the badass Stacker Pentecost in the first movie finds himself reluctantly caught up in the middle of a new war between Jaegers and the kaiju they thought defeated.
Many expected the film to be about the "breach" somehow reopening and the Jaegers fighting back, almost like a rehash of the first film...but that's not what happened. Instead we see a surprising return character turn out to be a villain and the return of the kaiju in a very different way. Personally, I loved the twist and thought the idea seemed like the best way to make a sequel work. Moreso because it sets up more story possibilities down the road.
Not everyone enjoyed it, but if you go in with an open mind I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The action is stepped up this time around as well, giving more hard hitting moments between the giant robots and generally moving at a faster pace than the previous film. It's a lot of fun and does a good job of keeping you invested in the action (better characters/acting helped Uprising significantly) throughout the film.
While some of the plot beats fell flat for me, and the ending comes out a little rushed and not entirely fulfilling, Uprising manages to still be a better overall movie than the original Pacific Rim. Fortunately, it also holds up well upon multiple viewings. The action is still strong on the smaller screen and my kids and I had a blast watching it again. It's not a great movie by any means, but it's a lot of damn fun that will keep a smile on your face.
Sight and Sound
Visually, Pacific Rim: Uprising is dense and gorgeous. Every frame is packed with a wealth of visual information that's easy to dive into, with plenty of objects in the (far) background that add to the depth. The colors are bright, making the world feel vibrant, while also striking an excellent balance between new technology, and those that feel used/lived-in. The film uses a diverse color palette that's a treat for the eyeballs, along with the well-executed visual effects.
The blu-ray, fortunately, is stunning and allows all of these elements to stand out. The transfer is excellent, with a sharp image, and crips lines that make every part of the packed frames clear and dazzling. The sound is given similar treatment, with the Dolby surround highlighting all the various effects whizzing by throughout the film. The sound is what truly makes these giant robots come alive, and feel like they have true weight and substance to them. As such, it's nice to have the surround sound complement the visuals, without overriding the dialog.
OVerall, from a technical standpoint, Pacific Rim: Uprising's blu-ray is top notch. There's nothing of note to take issue with in either aspect and it makes this already visually impressive film shine.
The Bonus Features
Pacific Rim: Uprising comes loaded with a slew of special features for viewers to check out:
Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Steven S. DeKnight
Hall of Heroes - John Boyega takes us through the awesome weaponry and cutting-edge enhancements of the latest generation of Jaegers featured in the film.
Bridge to Uprising - The cast and crew discuss how the world of Pacific Rim has changed in the ten years since the events of the original film.
The Underworld of Uprising - Humanity won the Kaiju War, but every war has casualties. John Boyega and Steven S. DeKnight give a tour of the coastal “Relief Zones.”
Becoming Cadets - Step into the Shatterdome, and learn the grueling physical and mental preparation required of the young actors who portrayed the PPDC cadets.
Unexpected Villain - Learn the secret reason that turned one of the most beloved heroes of the original film into a villain obsessed with humanity’s destruction.
Next Level Jaegers - The cast and crew discuss the amazing technological advances of the Jaeger program in the years since the events of the original film.
I Am Scrapper - Actress Cailee Spaeny shares the backstory of Scrapper, Amara’s incredible self-built Jaeger and its many unique abilities.
Going Mega - Filmmakers take us through the technical and creative challenges of creating the most deadly threat the Pan Pacific Defense Corp has ever faced: the Mega Kaiju!
Secrets of Shao - Meet the woman behind Shao Industries. Actress Tian Jing shares her insights on the enigmatic tech tycoon Liwen Shao.
Mako Returns - Actress Rinko Kikuchi and director Steven S. DeKnight explain the significance of Mako Mori’s return and her importance to the events of Pacific Rim Uprising.
Feature Commentary with Director Steven S. DeKnight
The bulk of these are minor featurettes that spotlight individual actors talking about their characters for a couple minutes. They're not bad, but don't offer up a whole lot beyond hyping up the characters you see in the film. The most interesting extra is the film commentary, where director DeKnight gives an incredibly deep and well-thought out discussion on the film throughout. He dives into the movie's story, structure, and characters a great deal more than the other featurettes do and is well worth a watch/listen.