REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018)

Convoluted sequel takes place ten years after Guillermo Del Toro’s fun original with the world healing, yet still making use of the Jaeger technology. Fallen hero Stacker Pentecost’s son Jake (John Boyega) is a failed Jaeger pilot now turned black market Jaeger parts dealer. He crosses paths with teen Amara (Cailee Spaeny) who is building her own Jaeger and the two find themselves arrested and pressed into service by the PPDC. This reunites Jake with former co-pilot Nate (Scott Eastwood) as they are to train a new generation of cadets. At the same time a Chinese corporation, headed by beautiful CEO Liwen Shao (Jing Tian from Kong: Skull Island), is planning to unleash a squadron of Jaeger drones that will not need the services of internal co-pilots. Still with me? Soon Jake and company are embroiled in a battle with not only rogue drone Jaegers, but a new Kaiju invasion triggered by a familiar face.

Sequel brings the noise, but forgets the fun as directed by Steven S. DeKnight from a mess of a script by he and three other writers. What results is a very by-the-numbers film that has a lot of silly ideas, yet never takes the time to really develop any of them. Del Toro’s film was goofy, but had a big heart and was lots of fun. Some folks didn’t get what it was trying to do, but those of us who grew up watching Japanese monster movies got exactly where he was coming from. DeKnight, however, forgets that the first film was a loving homage and forgoes the love for a formula, generic and cold blockbuster that has too many subplots and doesn’t do anything interesting with them. Jaegers infected with Kaiju technology is enough for one film in itself, but here takes up maybe a half hour of screen-time before we fall back on the familiar monsters versus robots schtick. There is an interesting plot point that gives purpose to what the initial Kaiju attack was attempting to accomplish, which here only seems to serve to get our final throw-down nostalgically in good ole Tokyo. The special FX are top notch, but none of the action sequences have any of the intensity, suspense or emotional investment they need to make them resonate. It’s just, loud set-pieces that lack any weight, even when our massive Kaiju nears it’s objective with our heroes all down for the count. At no time are we ever involved in what is going on, because it’s all so paint by numbers. With Del Toro producing, I’m not sure how he allowed this unnecessary sequel to be handled so poorly.

The cast never seem to be emotionally invested either and just seem to be going through the motions. Boyega has a natural presence, but is fed such lame dialogue that even his awkward smile and roguish charm can’t makes us endear to Jake as we should. Cailee Spaeny really tries hard with a generic teen rebel role. She’s cute and spunky and with a better script, she’ll probably make a good leading lady. Eastwood tries to channel his legendary dad, but comes across more as a lesser Chris Evans clone. Too bad, he also has charm, but is given some of the worst lines. Jing Tian is fine as the Chinese CEO who overcomes her cold exterior to become a more heroic figure, obviously to appease Chinese audiences where the first film did big business. Returning from the first flick is Rinko Kikuchi as Mako, who is now a commanding officer and Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as scientists Newt and Gottlieb, respectively. Both scientist become once more embroiled in the plot in some of the more interesting story elements.

In conclusion this was a loud mess of a sequel that lacks the original’s heart, soul and sense of nostalgic homage. It is a cold, by-the-numbers popcorn flick that forgets that cinematic popcorn is supposed to be fun, even if incredibly dumb. DeKnight, a veteran of TV, seems way out of his element here and even his actors look bored and a bit lost. The script by four writers has a lot of ideas and yet doesn’t properly develop any of them, some of which could have been the bases of an entire film. A sadly disappointing follow-up that probably won’t produce the second sequel it so cheerfully sets up…then again, the first film’s moderate box office didn’t seem to foretell the coming of this colorful but mundane mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) Jaegers.

**************************************************

 

 

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TEXAS CHAINSAW (2013)

marquee_HYMHM

texas_chainsaw

bars

TEXAS CHAINSAW  (2013)

Is Texas Chainsaw 3D a good movie?… well that depends. If you can’t get past a stupid script, cardboard characters and the fact that by the implied timeline our plucky heroine (Alexandra Daddario) should be in her 40s not barely in her 20s, then, no. But, if you can sit back and just enjoy a hot babe running around being pursued by a chainsaw wielding maniac who has a knack for carving up her stupid friends, then, yes, it’s unintentionally goofy, gory fun. Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the 1974 classic that opens with a vengeful redneck mob laying siege to the house occupied by Leatherface and a lot of other Sawyer family members that weren’t there in the original. A baby is found on the property and we cut to 2012 (the date is confirmed on a tombstone as September 2012) where Heather (Daddario), has magically grown up to be only 20 something and is an amazingly hot butcher at a supermarket. She soon gets word that her grandmother (original Chainsaw heroine Marilyn Burns), that she didn’t know she had, has died and left her a house in Texas. Whoa! Adopted and now rich! Heather goes down to the house with some generic stereotype friends who seem handpicked to be murdered, which is smart because there just happens to be another family member living hidden in the house like Bad Ronald (70s TV movie reference. Google it.) and he just happens to like world peace, romantic evenings, chainsaws and wearing peoples faces. Before you can say, gratuitous ass close-up, Leatherface emerges from hiding and starts hacking up everyone he can find. Throw in some sleazy rednecks, some redneck cops (including Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son) and it’s a redneck smorgasbord…literally as the body parts fly fast and furious. Sure, director John Luessenhop doesn’t really generate much suspense or scares from the incredibly dumb script but, Chainsaw 3D reminded me of some of the lower tier 80s slasher flicks that were entertaining despite of and because of how bad they were. There are numerous references to the original flick and I just had fun watching a chubby, balding Leatherface carving up all the unlikable characters when not chasing his hot cousin around trying to kill her. Alexandra Daddario was a fine (and I mean FINE) and feisty heroine and I liked her character’s twist once she finds out who she really is and that she now has to buy her chainsaw wielding cousin a Christmas Card every year… if he lets her live. Yes, Chainsaw 3D is a very dumb and silly horror flick but, it also is blood drenched fun if you go in not expecting much and stop comparing it to the movie it’s trying to honor. And despite how bad it’s written, the film is trying to honor it’s roots and we get some fun cameos to prove it and when it’s all said and done, it can be a good time if you just sit back and enjoy watching hot chicks in peril and sleazy rednecks meeting chainsaw justice. A few beers before the show wouldn’t hurt… if fact it might be a good idea. Be sure to watch through the credits.

Check out “Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?” for a closer look at Alexandra Daddario’s character, Heather here. (Careful though, there are some spoilers.)

A goofy, gory 3 chainsaws

3 chainsaws

bars