Pacific Rim: Uprising Review – the Mako Rant

I hated Uprising. I watched it on a plane. I couldn’t forget about it. That’s how much of an impression it made.

I felt that Uprising is what happens when you take a passion project and turn it into a commercial one. It’s just trying to sell you Jaeger toys. I don’t know what exactly is missing in this movie that the first movie had. Probably passion? Originality? An attempt to make a robot franchise that doesn’t look like the Japanese stuff or Transformers?

*Warning: this is a rant review.

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) - IMDb

If you’ve hung around my blog for long enough, I actually tried to defend Ghost in the Shell’s dumpster fire. I wasn’t as gentle with Alita’s Hugo/Yugo, but this… I won’t even try to defend this movie.

Uprising is clearly intended for a younger audience, and I do not mind that you have a mini Jaeger or a bunch of teenagers dying in a huge ass mecha or that the mecha themselves are causing even more damage than the Kaiju. I don’t care if you have people that are just there as diversity tokens and a potential love interest for Amara that I don’t think even had a spoken line. Yeah, this film doesn’t take itself as seriously as the first. What I have an issue with is the writing.

The writing is all over the place. It doesn’t feel cohesive. Okay, the first Pacific Rim movie wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was focused and knew what it was doing. This movie tried to do too much and nothing felt developed enough. They turned an unknown Cthulhu-Lovecraftian villain into a cheesy one. Like, who came up with that ‘we will be back’ scene? (Yeah, the ‘we fight monsters with monsters of our own’ was also cheesy, but that one took it to another level)

I don’t object the writer’s decision to kill Mako off either (heh, as if there can be 2 Asian women in the same franchise hAHahA), but what I hated was how her death was handled. Although her death affected the plot somewhat, it felt as if it was instantly forgotten. Her death served only as her brother’s character development, and arguably it didn’t even do much. It was as if her death never happened, and even if Mako survived in a coma or died, it wouldn’t have affected the plot at all. It wouldn’t even matter. I blame it on Uprising’s poor writing. It was her death that kept me from watching Uprising for the longest time and my initial reluctance to watch The Black – if they did the same thing they did to Mako to any other characters (including Shao Liwen), I’m done with this franchise I loved so much.

Seriously. It felt like after spending a whole movie developing her, they just shrugged her off. I felt like I was slapped in the face. I loved Mako so much because she was an Asian in a huge-ass scale movie and she was one of the main protagonist, for goodness sake. For 13-year-old me, it was friggin’ inspirational (cuz I’m Asian, in case you don’t know). She was her own person. She wasn’t objectified. She wasn’t there for Raleigh and Raleigh didn’t have to be less of a character for her to shine. She wasn’t Captain Marvel. She struggled and she got past them, and she defeated the final boss with Raleigh, and she was badass. That’s why I loved the ending to the first Pacific Rim so much. Their relationship wasn’t romantic since it felt like a real connection out of respect for each other. And the reason I hated Uprising was because it ruined that for me.

(I have nothing against Liwen-jie, but her character development felt super rushed I don’t even remember how she turned from a sassy boss lady into that lady piloting the little Jaeger at the end. But hey, she got to speak her own language on the screen. That should be something.)

You can kill off a main character without having people throw coals at you. Off the top of my head, I think Vikings pulled it off quite well. What that series did was move the focus to the other characters first, then kill the main character off in a way that’s befitting of that character’s legacy. Uprising did not do any of that.

What this movie did right was the CG for the Kaiju at Mt. Fuji. That, and the Jaeger fights in general. I’m not gonna compare it to the first movie because they took different approaches and had their own charms, but the fights is what this movie did right. At least from what I remember. Also, despite Jake’s character being sort of all over the place, I felt the actor did a really good job. I also liked that one scene where he was eating off an ice cream tub. It was probably the most… idk, characterizing moment out of the whole film? It felt a lot more natural than most of Raleigh’s dialogue in the first film lol. I rewatched it before this Covid thing and I laughed at some of his lines.

Overall, I’d… rather not watch Uprising again. Despite the awesome fights, I don’t need to watch them casually throw Mako away again, thank you.

And I’m off to watch The Black.

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