CIN­EMA FILE

‘Pacific Rim’ se­quel ups the ante for epic rock ‘em sock ‘em ac­tion

Tempo - - CONTENTS - Re­view by Rick Ro­mancito

Un­like the noisy and quickly tire­some “Trans­form­ers” fran­chise (yes, I said it), when di­rec­tor Guillermo del Toro adapted (and pre­sented) Travis Beacham’s comic book into the “Pacific Rim” sci-fi ac­tion film in 2013, he tapped into an even more en­gag­ing guilty plea­sure for boys who like big toys.

Now, del Toro steps into the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer’s chair for the se­quel, hand­ing over the di­rec­tor’s viewfinder to Steven S. DeKnight, whose pre­vi­ous work has been rooted in the small screen. Make no mis­take, though, DeKnight stepped up to the for­mi­da­ble task of putting to­gether a pretty en­ter­tain­ing movie that pits giant robots called Jaegers (Ger­man for “hunter”) against mas­sive, nearly un­stop­pable mon­sters from an­other di­men­sion called Kaiju (Ja­panese for giant crea­tures of leg­end), and yet keeps the story hu­man-cen­tric.

Both films emerged as an amal­gam of var­i­ous ideas spread across the sci-fi movie spec­trum go­ing back decades and gen­er­a­tions. From “Kronos” (1957) to the var­i­ous smack­downs in the King KongGodzilla uni­verse to the slugfests among modern su­per-he­roes, big robots and mon­sters have been piv­otal in the dras­tic ur­ban re­newal of ma­jor cities the world over.

But here, they come to­gether as pawns in a larger story about ways hu­man­ity can come to­gether to stave off an­ni­hi­la­tion from forces H.P. Love­craft could only dream about. In this film, it has been more than a decade since Jaeger pi­lots Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and Raleigh Becket (Char­lie Hun­nam, who is miss­ing from this movie) saved the world by de­stroy­ing a breach at the bot­tom of the Pacific Ocean that tore open an in­ter­di­men­sional link be­tween our uni­verse and that of “The Pre­cur­sors,” alien be­ings that use giant mon­sters to de­stroy and then in­vade new worlds.

As this story picks up, we are in­tro­duced to Jake Pen­te­cost (John Boyega), son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pen­te­cost (Idris Elba). Even though the threat of ex­tinc­tion has been elim­i­nated, the world’s Jaeger pro­gram is still main­tained just in case the Kaiju re­turn. But, now, the two-pi­lot sys­tem, which uses a “drift” tech­nol­ogy to meld their minds, is reluc­tantly about to be re­placed by a huge army of drone Jaegers, ma­chines op­er­ated by a sin­gle pi­lot sit­ting in front of a screen any­where in the world.

Jake is not his fa­ther. Although he has the tal­ent to be­come a skilled Jaeger pi­lot, he re­jects the ca­reer path and in­stead makes a liv­ing sell­ing il­le­gal Jaeger parts on the black mar­ket.

If you saw the first movie, Jake’s pres­ence may be a lit­tle puz­zling since no men­tion is made of any fam­ily in Stacker’s world other than his adopted daugh­ter Mako. Any­way, Jake gets ar­rested and is given a choice: jail or re­cruit­ment as a teacher in the Jaeger pi­lot pro­gram.

In the mean­time, a teenage girl named Amara Na­mani (ap­peal­ing new­comer Cailee Spaeny) has built for her­self a mini-Jaeger she calls Scrap­per. She gets cap­tured by the PanPa­cific De­fence Corps and is also given a sim­i­lar choice, which is how she gets set to be­come a pi­lot un­der Jake’s tute­lage.

Af­ter the Kaiju War, the in­ter­na­tion­ally per­va­sive Shao Corp. pri­va­tized the en­tire Jaeger pro­gram and is now be­hind its com­plete over­haul. Dr. Her­man Got­tlieb (Burn Gor­man) and Dr. New­ton Geis­zler (Char­lie Day) re­turn as re­searchers at odds be­cause one be­lieves in the old sys­tem while the other is com­mit­ted to the new.

If you saw the first movie, one of the main plot points in­volves dis­cov­er­ing the true mo­tives of The Pre­cur­sors by go­ing into drift mode with a Kaiju brain. That ac­tion has evolved into some­thing much more omi­nous in this movie. “Up­ris­ing” isn’t so much about Earth’s de­fense against an­other Kaiju War, but against what some hu­mans have done with the rem­nants left be­hind. It’s an in­ter­est­ing take that also lays the ground­work for a fran­chise with some prom­ise. “Pacific Rim: Up­ris­ing” is rated PG-13 for se­quences of sci-fi vi­o­lence and ac­tion, and some lan­guage

It is show­ing daily at Mitchell Sto­ry­teller 7 The­atres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tick­ets and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, call (575) 751-4245 or visit sto­ry­teller7. com.

UNI­VER­SAL PIC­TURES

HEROIC JAEGERS square off for an epic fight in “Pacific Rim: Up­ris­ing.” (Cailee Spaeny), left fore­ground, and Jake Pen­te­cost (John Boyega) as­sess their next big chal­lenge.

UNI­VER­SAL STU­DIOS

JAEGER DRIVERS AMARA NA­MANI

UNI­VER­SAL STU­DIOS

RINKO KIKUCHI RE­TURNS as Mako Mori

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