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Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 6/19/2018

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/20/2018

Movie sequels have become so ubiquitous that when a new entry into a movie series appears, we are rarely surprised. But, occasionally a sequel shows up which takes us by surprise. Recently, this has occurred when movies arrive years, if not decades after the last offering in the franchise. However, sometimes sequels shock us when they are the follow-up to a movie which wasn't especially successful, because sequels usually exist in order to make more money. Pacific Rim arrived in 2013 to a considerable amount of hype. But, the movie only made back a little over half of its budget at the U.S. box office. However, the movie went on to be a success in foreign territories, thus Pacific Rim: Uprising has arrived.

Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the events seen in the first film. The breach, the opening in the ocean which released monsters ("Kaiju") into our world, has remained closed. Cities around the world have been rebuilt and new, improved "Jaegers" (the giant robots created to fight the Kaiju) are standing by, just in case they are needed. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Stacker Pentecost, the late leader of the resistance whose sacrifice saved the world, has rejected his father's legacy and lives life scavenging Jaeger parts. He and young scavenger, Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), are captured and taken to the headquarters of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, where Jake is ordered to resume his duties as a Jaeger pilot, while Amara is made a trainee. It's revealed that Shao Corporation is working on drone pilots for Jaegers. However, everyone's plans are set aside when a rogue, unidentified Jaeger suddenly attacks. This is just the beginning of a new threat.

2013's Pacific Rim was supposed to be the greatest movie ever made, as it brought together some of the greatest elements of Japanese culture under the guidance of a fanboy from Mexico. Monsters in the vein of Godzilla and human-piloted mech machines are mainstays of Asian culture and it seemed like a great idea to bring them together in a live-action movie. But, (one of) Guillermo del Toro's dream-projects fell short of expectations for several reasons. First and foremost, most of the big action sequences took place at night, and in the rain, so it was difficult to see the big robot versus monster battles which we came to see. Also, the story was very top-heavy and convoluted, which further helped to take away from the action.

What does this mean? This means that the bar was somewhat lower for Pacific Rim: Uprising than it is for many sequels. The powers-that-be behind this new film clearly looked at the mistakes in Pacific Rim and decided to fix them. First of all, the action sequences in Pacific Rim: Uprising take place in broad daylight. That way, we can actually see the designs of the Jaegers and Kaiju and we know what's going on. Secondly, the story is much more streamlined. There are some subplots which divert from the main action, but for the most part, this is about having Jaegers do some fighting.

And yet, there's still something missing from this chapter as well. While the film is an improvement over the original in some respects, it also feels like a carbon copy. Perhaps the story is simply too streamlined here, or the characters too stereotypical. Whatever the case, there is nothing truly engaging about Pacific Rim: Uprising. The action scenes work well and the finale actually delivers on the promises of the first film, but there is never a reason for the audience to get invested here. Other than the twist introduced in the third act, there is nothing memorable about this movie. The idea of giant robots fighting monsters should be a no-brainer...and maybe that's the problem here.

Pacific Rim: Uprising does shake things up with a surprise death on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. Again, daytime scenes are used in abundance here, and the picture shows a very nice clarity and crispness. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very impressive, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth works quite well. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences really deliver here, offering strong surround sound which includes some detailed, individual sounds. The stereo effects are also good, as they highlight sounds coming from off-screen. As one would expect, the subwoofer is strong, offering pounding bass during the battles.

The Pacific Rim: Uprising 4K UHD contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Steven DeKnight. The Disc contains eight DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes and can be viewed with optional commentary from DeKnight. One contains very quick cameo by James Gunn. These are all quite brief and don't introduce any new subplots or characters. "Hall of Heroes" (3 minutes) has Boyega describing each of the Jaegers. "Bridge to Uprising" (5 minutes) examines the approach to expanding the story from the first film in order to create a sequel. "The Underworld of Uprising" (4 minutes) focuses on Jake's behavior in the first act and we get some on-set footage of those scenes being shot. "Becoming Cadets" (6 minutes) looks at the young actors who play the new recruits. "Unexpected Villain" (6 minutes) offers an interview with Charlie Day who talks about the change in his character in this film. "Next Level Jaegers" (5 minutes) offers some concept art and provides a discussion of designing the bots for the new movie. Similarly, "I Am Scrapper" (3 minutes) brings us the look of the small bot from the opening. "Going Mega" (3 minutes) profiles the new monsters introduced in this entry. We look at the new player in the technology game in "Secrets of Shao" (3 minutes). "Mako Returns" (2 minutes) has Rinko Kikuchi discussing her character.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long