In the first Pacific Rim film back in 2013, Idris Elba played Stacker Pentecost, a gruff but fatherly military man tasked with training “Jaeger Pilots” – humans who controlled enormous robots with their minds in pairs, through a process called “drifting”.
This time it’s Stacker’s son Jake (John Boyega) at the centre of the action as a young man in search of a good time, and a scam, navigating his way through a world in turmoil since the last Kaiju (monstrous creatures) strike a decade ago. It may have been ten years since an alien attack, but there is an enormous amount of rebuilding work to be done due to the destruction wreaked across the globe from these creatures in the first movie.
Jake isn’t much of a construction worker, preferring to party, and make deals with dodgy types to fund that partying, and, after an attempted theft of some hi-tech hardware turns sour, Jake finds himself in a police cell where his step-sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) appears via hologram to give him a choice – face prison time (as he is a repeat offender), or join the Jaeger Academy he flunked out of.
With Human-Kaiju conflict seemingly non-existent thanks to his father sacrificing himself to destroy “The Breach” – the crossover point between the alien dimension and Earth – Jake sees little point in learning to pilot a battle robot, but it’s a no-brainer versus the alternative of time behind bars.
The 13 year old me would think this is the coolest film ever made, with its gigantic robots and terrifying monsters. The current day me still loves these elements but also appreciates the inclusion of Scott Eastwood (I’m a huge fan of his father Clint) as rival pilot Nate Lambert, a character who definitely adheres to a military lifestyle and expects others to comply willingly. Naturally this causes a clash between the two lead characters, and also naturally, they are on course to resolve this over the course of the film.
In many aspects this is a generic blockbuster with a tonne of CGI that happens to be about robots.
And in designing a film that is primarily about robots, the creative team have borrowed from nearly every available source of inspiration from the robot and/or blockbuster world.
There’s an orange robot with ears like Chappie.
Another has swords that extend like the claws of Wolverine.
The Jaeger suits bring to mind Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, or Master Chief from Halo.
There are flashes of Transformers, in particular a smaller rough and tumble scrapyard built robot who bears a striking resemblance to Sqweeks from The Last Knight.
There are elements of Star Wars Clone Wars except that in this film the issue is drones not clones.
If you are able to embrace outright silliness this could be the flick for you.
With a wonderful nod to the iconic Gundam Wing during the film, fans of this genre should lap it up.
3 Stars – “Big Boys Toys Destroy Down Under”