Top 9 Things Missing From Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising had what we expected to see: giant robots battling giant monsters.  But what it left out was rather telling.  Here are the top 9 things it missed.

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Pacific Rim Uprising.  But if you’re seeing Pacific Rim Uprising for the PLOT and you want to be surprised, you’re going to be disappointed no matter what.  So you may as well read on.]

1. School Hijinks

Look, if you’re going to introduce a scrappy, young character who is an engineering genius so OF COURSE she gets admitted into the Jaeger piloting academy as a punishment, that’s fine.  But it’s a rule that if a main character gets into a futuristic school or academy or training program THERE MUST BE HIJINKS!  School pranks.  Test sequences that suddenly advantage our plucky heroine.  A hunky tutor willing to show her the ropes.  Instead, we got NOTHING.  There’s one feisty Russian pilot and so naturally another student teaches our heroine “some Russian to calm her down” which, shocker, ends up being “Kiss my ass” in Russian.  First, how the hell did our hero not see that coming?  Second, how the hell does “kiss my ass” infuriate a pilot in the pilot academy?  Have insults gone backward in time thanks to multiple kaiju attacks?

Freshman class pranks.

But there’s nothing we expect from a good advanced-technology academy.  We had better sequences in the first Kingsman or Ender’s Game (probably, I didn’t see it).  It’s unforgivable to put in an academy and then not treat it like the sci-fi academy it is!  Bad form, Pacific Rim Uprising.

2. Consistent Backstory

I don’t have a problem with a good retcon, but Pacific Rim Uprising is bad retconning.  Our main hero, Jake, is supposed to be the son of one of Pacific Rim’s heroes, Stacker Pentecost.  We’re told this explicitly although we could have guessed because in each movie there are a grand total of…let’s see carry the five…oh yeah ONE black person.  It’s super diverse.  Fine, whatever.  Our hero, the son, washed out as a pilot in the academy about a year before Pacific Rim.  So then after tooling around for a decade or so, he’s arrested and, as punishment, brought back to the academy.  WHERE HE IS NOW A FULL PILOT AND A TEACHER.  Yeah, that makes sense.  About as much sense as his sister, Mako, not mentioning she had a pilot brother in the original movie.  You remember the original movie–where the entire world was at risk because we really needed two people who could drift and pilot a giant robot?  Yeah, maybe mentioning her brother might have helped.

“Oh, sorry, I was off fighting the First Order.”

3. A Record For…

Another rule for science fiction movies is that if you mention someone has the record for something, you have to tell us what that record is for.  When our hero, now Ranger Pentecost, goes back to the academy a few students whisper how he has a record.  And then we never find out anything more.  Later there’s some dialogue about how he took two steps by himself in a robot, a feat that supposedly isn’t possible, so perhaps that’s the implication for his incredible feat.  But it’s also what got him kicked out of the academy, so that doesn’t seem like something you’d call “The Record” in hushed tones of reverence.  But maybe you do in a post-kaiju world.  Who am I to judge?

4. Technology That Makes Sense

The first Pacific Rim had to bend over so backward to explain why two pilots were needed for a robot that it was its own proctologist.  Something about the mental strain, although if someone were to tell you this remote control car is so powerful it needs TWO remotes to drive you’d be all “That’s stupid.”  Fine, they needed an excuse for not just having boring scenes of one person in a control pod.  Check.

And they picked two really ugly guys so everyone would complain.

But then why abandon it?  Uprising starts with some corporate tension between the robots and a new generation of drones.  Which are actually just more giant robots but piloted by a single person very far away.  A SINGLE PERSON.  Forget the idiotic conflict between the two sets of pilots–here is a tech that has solved your two-brain problem and your biggest issue is which brain is doing the driving?

I suppose there’s also an issue as to why the drone program is so intent on putting these robots everywhere when, and hear me out, no kaiju have appeared in years.  “But they’ll be back!” you say.  Yeah, maybe, and we’ve also been told that kaiju destroying major cities led to the biggest construction boom in history so how about we just make more than 4 robots at any one time?  Just a thought.

Using flaming swords to destroy buildings just to slow down my horizontal acceleration? Economic stimulus, baby.

5. Limitations That Make Sense

I mentioned all the mental gymnastics the first movie performed to make some kind of explanation around the two pilot requirement.  Not only did it make for better scenes inside the robots, but it also established a weakness that did make some sense.  You had to find two people who were compatible so that the mind-reading robot remote control could work together.  Well, it made sense once you accepted the ridiculous premise in the first place.

And it had glowing blue images, so why wouldn’t you trust it?

But by Uprising, that limitation is gone.  Now pilots just drain to drift into the controls and it doesn’t really matter who you’re with.  There’s a brief mention of “drift compatibility” during one sequence, but by the end it’s totally forgotten as pilots just rush to fill empty seats in robots.  Which then begs the question why we didn’t build a LOT more of these robots during all those years of prosperity when we weren’t being attacked by bioweapons from an alternate universe that wants to destroy us.

6. Total Lack Of Strategic Thought

During the final act of Uprising, three kaiju have managed to squeeze their way onto Earth in very different locations.  Our, of course, limited number of robots who can respond are trying to figure out where they are going.  So, for the first time ever, one pilot gets the brilliant idea to look up where ALL THE KAIJU FROM THE FIRST MOVIE MAY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GO.  Turns out they were all moving in a line towards Mt. Fuji.  He then plots the movements of the current three kaiju–yup, they’re heading to the same place.

People spent more time creating a useless holographic representation of a weapon than in figuring out where to use said weapon.

Leaving aside that maybe you should look at the current monsters first, you have to wonder why NOBODY did this before.  Nobody.  Didn’t it seem weird when the kaiju near Sydney made a beeline towards the city rather than just swim around it?  Wasn’t it a bit odd when the kaiju appeared in the middle of San Francisco Bay and rather than turn towards the population centers surround it, it decided to head out to the ocean by going through a bridge.

Wait–how the hell did that San Francisco kaiju get there in the first place?  The rift was at the bottom of the Pacific–did it swim to the middle of the bay?  THE EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF MT FUJI? But then why would it swim there, stand up, and then decide to walk to Japan?  Is it like when you’re in the pool and want to stay nice and cool but eventually concede that you’re trying to swim in four inches of water so, yeah, you’ll get up and now walk the rest of the way?  But the rest of the way is JAPAN!  That’s enough water to full on swim, kaiju-bro.  No need to stand up and take it out on the Golden Gate Bridge.

“F you, MapQuest!”

Oh holy crap I don’t know if the kaiju are stupid or just have bad GPS.  Also, did I just call a kaiju bro?

Plus, in the giant final battle to destroy the biggest kaiju ever seen, our single functioning robot is all out of weapons.  So it launches into space and flies into the kaiju, killing it in one blow.  Meaning these robots are TOTALLY USELESS.  You want to kill kaiju?  Just drop metal on them from space.  Doesn’t that seem a lot easier than everything else they’ve been building/training/trying to make work?

Make the metal have a fist if you want to be dramatic.


7. Anyone Who Noticed That Kaiju Blood Suddenly Became Dangerous

Kaiju blood plays a pivotal role in Uprising.  A scientist points out how it reacts with rare Earth minerals to create powerful explosions, something that could be used to destroy the planet or make some bitching robot rocket boots.  The blood is also highly acidic, so if some of it drops on your skin you’ll be in a lot of pain and then forced to wear a bandage wrapped around your arm with a red spot on it because medicine apparently doesn’t work anymore.

But, wait, when the hell did this happen?  Kaiju blood was flying all around the first movie and nobody dissolved into a puddle of goo.  There was even a black market trader of kaiju parts that spoke about the mineral composition of kaiju shit and he didn’t mention anything about this fascinating blood.  ALL THE BLOOD CHANGED!  That should get some attention, right?  Maybe more than the pet project of the scientist who saved the world the first time?  How is that guy not funded for literally everything he wants to research?

“Blood that what? Oh you will be hearing from my lawyers!”

8. Enemies Who Can Make A Plan

The residents of the evil alternate universe have apparently had a plan all along.  It’s revealed in Uprising when some pilots, the first in the world, take a moment to think “Okay, giant monsters are trying to kill us all, but WHY are they trying to kill us all?”  They quickly abandon those philosophical implications and instead discover the kaiju are heading to Mt. Fuji to use their new blood to react with chemicals there that will ignite every volcano near the Pacific Ocean and that will terraform the Earth for the other universe residents.  That’s the plan.

Wait, what?  You grow giant monsters in your dimension and send them through a rift to our world intact.  INTACT.  Why wouldn’t you just send them with everything they need to start the chain reaction themselves?  Remember, in the first movie the kaiju came out AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN.  That seems a much better place to start a volcano chain reaction than randomly drifting to the surface and heading to a single mountain.

It’s sort of like a terrorist who’s figured out how to get through airport security completely undetected.  So he brings a bunch of guns and some canisters of chemicals that will then combine with all the fire extinguishers in the airport to make a deadly gas.  Yeah, that’s a movie plot, but that’s a shit plan.  JUST BRING WHAT YOU NEED WITH YOU!  Dumb asses.  You deserve to lose.

Then again, they’re up against humans who thought a giant spiky ball was a fine weapon, but only if you could attach it to a flimsy chain.

9. Ron Perlman

Where was Ron Perlman?  He was the most badass character in Pacific Rim, knew as much about kaiju as the most brilliant scientists, and was immune to kaiju blood.  Plus he’s Ron f’ing Perlman.  When the first kaiju appeared, Perlman should have just walked up to it, jumped on its neck and rode it like a bronco until he tamed it, then forcing it to turn on its brother kaiju while all the robot pilots sit back in awe.

Damn, make that the third film and I’m in.

“Damn right you are!”


Gabbing Geek co-founder, podcaster

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