Through some clunky dialogue, cringe-worthy moments and unwillingness to admit it’s a Gundam film, Pacific Rim 2 fails to improve on the original.
Just to be clear, if all you want to see is robots fight giant monsters and other giant robots sometimes and things explode, this is still a fine movie to watch that happen. However, I went into this film ready to enjoy a fun somewhat self-aware action romp and came out a little disappointed. The ever-charismatic John Boyega is not at his best in this film and the script is not doing him any favours. One of the worst aspects of his character, Jake Pentecost, is his constant odd tick in which he talks about how attractive he is. It is really strange, to be frank. I can’t tell if this was done to make the character seem like a 16 year old kid, or perhaps that he was young at heart or even because an actual 16 year old wrote it. But whatever the reason, it didn’t work. At all. It hits a tipping point when he says this to another co-star who is playing a 15 year old girl.
There are two returning stars, however the only noteworthy one is Charlie Day. The reason he is noteworthy is because he is the source of some of the strangest scenes in the film. I won’t go into too much detail as this is not a spoiler review, however, the audience was laughing and they were clearly not supposed to be.
The strongest point of the film is twofold, which is a positive in and of itself. The action is spectacularly well done and the set design is inspired. One of the highlights of the set design is a Villa built around the skeleton of a Kaiju. While the last fight is fairly fantastic, the film feels as though it is holding itself back from letting itself be just a Gundam film franchise. What I mean by that is the film has this odd obsession with still trying to ground itself in reality when five giant building sized mechs are fighting a giant space animal bigger than all of them stacked on top of one another. It really diminished the fun the movie could have had if it had just committed itself to being a little bit less serious.
The soundtrack is another sore spot, although nothing like previous complaints. My only real issue is that I can’t hum the tune of a single song used in the film. This is generally problematic because you want a soundtrack to be recognizable, something like the Avengers theme, Hedwig’s theme, or even the revolution whistle in the Hunger Games. Soundtracks are only ever going to be heard, so you should know instantly what it is, like you would know an actor by their face. This film lacks that in spades, unfortunately.
Otherwise, the movie is respectable. It held my attention, but sometimes it felt as though it didn’t know what to do with it.