12 May 2020

Not Worth Cancelling The Apocalypse For

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Pacific Rim: Uprising begins with director Guillermo Del Toro being strapped into a metal cage above a fiery pit by a creepy (and racially problematic) Temple Of Doom-style Thuggee Priest. Not literally of course, although that at least would have been a momentary detour from the two hours of mind-numbing predictability that we actually got. Del Toro directed the original 2013 Pacific Rim which has only become an increasingly better movie on the extensive re-viewings that I've given it. His was a film of colour and majesty that had both hidden depth and a message of unity that our shitty species has so far failed to understand. Every frame of Pacific Rim was laced with Del Toro's passion for art, whether it be his love of classic paintings, old Jerry Anderson shows, or simply the sub-genre of seeing huge monsters being twatted in the face by giant robots. For various reasons, he failed to sign on to this sequel having instead decided to win an Oscar for his latest fish-fucking masterpiece The Shape Of Water. Quite right too as for me, Del Toro is an artistic genius that we've been blessed to live at the same time as. His films will one day be remembered in the same way that we remember Hitchcock's or Kubrick's and if I was a director I'd want to follow in his footsteps as keenly as I'd want to be pegged by a psychopath with a cactus for a strap-on. Del Toro's heart went into his Pacific Rim film and as this sequel began I saw that Thuggee Priest rip it out and set it on fire as though showing it off to Indiana Jones, a screaming woman, and a small Asian stereotype. 
Pacific Rim: Uprising begins with Stacker Pentecost's son Jake "living", as the plebs of our world have started to say on mass, "his best life". In case you don't remember Stacker, he was the leader of the resistance and was clearly better at fighting monsters than he was naming children. Jake accidentally bumps into a young girl that has built her own giant robot because in the future children are apparently fucking geniuses. If some kid just paints their face green to cosplay as the hulk then I'm usually pretty impressed by their effort but this bitch has literally built an oversized working replica of a Transformer and everybody acts as though that's fucking normal. Maybe I'm just old. I saw a kid learning some basic programming once and I wanted to accuse them of witchcraft like I was a village fucking elder that had spotted somebody reading without mouthing each word read. I have no idea what they were doing, but to me it looked as though they were creating fucking Skynet. Although in the world of Pacific Rim: Uprising, it is still considered illegal to create these robots that the young girl as made. I don't know why. But once caught participating in this hobby of building giant automaton's from a collection of super-advanced Meccano, Jake and the young girl are given the choice of either going to prison or piloting the robots for their country's giant robot army. They chose the army in which Jake appears to be put instantly in charge for some reason... I'm not sure why. They're initially greeted at the base by Scott Eastwood's character who quickly turns out to be the only person there that's above the age of about fucking fifteen. In the last film, the pilots were all adults however here the only people fighting are of an age in which they look as though they'd be excited just to have grown their first pube. I have no idea where the real adults have gone but as it stands this film is like if Power Rangers had been directed by Joseph fucking Kony.

So the giant robot programme here is under threat from a sinister rival company that wants to replace all of these children driven robots with unmanned drones, which seems pretty reasonable to me. Call me old fashioned but I tend to err on the side of not using minors to fight a war when other options are available. It hardly even seem practical if it means our world is unprotected when its only defence is either in school or detention. We're also told that although the robots previously took two people to pilot via a connected brain gizmo, the scientists are now working on a way that will make it possible to control using only the one person instead. So instantly it's pretty obvious that whoever wrote this movie wasn't paying much attention to the message of the first film which was very specific about how humanity needs to come together to survive. The two-people-per-robot thing worked as both a metaphor and a great way of getting us to care about the characters as we see two people learn to understand each other throughout the movie. If there is any subtext in this sequel then I have to admit that I didn't catch onto it which is a polite way of saying that it didn't fucking have any. Perhaps you could argue that the message of unity is reinforced by the time we get to the final battle as it turns out that the robots do still rely on having two people to pilot them. However, this seems less as a result of the inferiority of the drones being proposed as a replacement, and more the fact that by this point the movie appears to have completely forgotten that it even had any of this as a fucking subplot. I don't know if you've noticed but I haven't really mentioned any of the giant monsters yet either. But that's because this film seems to have forgotten to include them for the fucking most part too.

Despite the entire set-up of the franchise being the joy in seeing a fight between massive robots and giant monsters, we actually spend most of Pacific Rim Uprising watching nothing more than robots fighting other robots. Because there just haven't been enough Transformers movies yet have there? In fact, even by the time, it was over halfway through the monsters had still barely shown up leaving me to feel like Jeff Goldblum as he looks to the camera and asks, “do you eventually plan to have any dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour?” By the time the monsters do arrive, it's a race against time to stop them from reaching Mount Fuji because I guess they have to head somewhere and so why not the fuck there? I have no idea why it's specifically Mount Fuji but presumably the writers came up with a list of landmarks to throw a dart at and we were mercifully spared one of the more cliched American ones. Still, at one point a character works out that the monsters are heading to Mount Fuji by checking the location of all the massive beasties from the previous film and deciding that was the direction all of those were heading in too. So we're now meant to believe that every monster ever has instantly walked in the direction of Mount Fuji and literally nobody had ever previously noticed it. Perhaps it's unfair to compare this movie to Transformers because, despite hating it with every shred of my being, I can at least see that it doesn't have that director Michael Bay's pervy worldview. However whereas the first movie drew inspiration from everything from anime to wrestling, this movie simply draws from every generic action/disaster movie of the last twenty years and with even less style and flare than Britney and Justin when they decided to double-fucking-denim it.

There wasn't even a villain in the first Pacific Rim really, with the monsters representing our futile battle against the forces of nature to highlight our need to cooperate in the face of adversity. But by contrast, there actually is a villain in this sequel and he is quite literally the kind of manically laughing cliché that even Sideshow fucking Bob would roll his eyes at. My friend Greg wasn't even able to steal an extra fucking biscuit in work the other week without a full internal inquiry and yet the villain of this film manages to secretly create millions of dollars worth of weapons in somebody else's fucking company. We don't get fucking biscuits at all now thanks to fucking Greg and his lies. If there's anything to praise about this movie then it's John Boyega as Jake Pentecost who spends the movie attempting to step out of the shadow of his much greater father, Stacker. Most of his time is also spent in the company of Scott Eastwood's character, with the actor presumably providing a great subject for Boyega as he researched what it must be like to have a far superior father. That's about all there is to say about the positives of this piece of shit movie though. For all the big spectacle of the franchise, it was the artistry and passion of previous director Guillermo Del Toro that made it what it was and without his heart, the CG smash-a-thon means literally fuck all. In the previous film, we were told that the pilots were treated like rock stars by the world, but this film is a fucking tribute act who just has turned up and they've not even bothered to learn any of the songs. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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