Four years before The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro made Pacific Rim, a movie about giant robots punching giant monsters—and a movie that, thanks to del Toro, had an inventive, oddball charm and a raggedly lovable personality. While Pacific Rim embraced the bombastic goofiness of its city-wide kaiju battles—frequently soundtracking them with gleeful electric guitar riffs—it also had a surprising amount of heart, and del Toro was always eager to explore the bizarre details of its weird world.
Now there’s a sequel, and without del Toro’s touch, it’s basically gibberish.
The decidedly more kid-friendly Pacific Rim Uprising is rushed and nonsensical, with uninspired action and a script that seems almost cruel in its determination to squander talented actors. (The usually great John Boyega is stuck playing a smudged sketch of a character, while Rinko Kikuchi, reprising her fantastic role from the first film, gets killed off in the first five minutes.) Cities are flattened, countless millions are killed, and sitcom-annoying children crack wise as skyscraper-size robots float, with all the weight of paper airplanes, through too-bright CGI punch-outs. Uprising is dumb enough on its own, but it gets even worse when you realize it’s taken all the strange, clever quirks of del Toro’s film and boiled them into a tasteless slurry.