Pacific Rim Uprising UnCancels the Apocalypse

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New York Comic Con finally gave us the first look at Pacific Rim: Uprising, and it looks brighter, louder, and larger than Guillermo del Toro’s iteration.

During the Pacific Rim: Uprising panel that took place in Madison Square Garden, director Steven S. DeKnight set the stage for the audience. The action in Pacific Rim: Uprising takes place 10 years after the last film and focuses on a new generation of Jaeger pilots who know “only a world of chaos.” Possibly alluding to the atmosphere of hate that’s become more visible in the wake of the U.K. and U.S. elections, DeKnight emphasized that a big message of the film will be tolerance and diversity; that no matter your skin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status, you can be a hero. “The person inside the Jaeger is the hero. It’s you, times a thousand.”

DeKnight also gave us a sneak peak of the new Jaegers. In the last film, all the Jaegers were destroyed in that final battle, meaning that all the Jaegers in Uprising have been redesigned and built from the ground up. Notably, DeKnight mentions that the Jaegers will not be categorized by country anymore but simply be viewed as representations of all humanity. This goes hand-in-hand with John Boyega summing up the film’s message as simply being about “unity.”

This is, of course, a much needed message (though perhaps blunted a little by the fact that they’ve once against named their flagship Jaeger after a slur). It’s assumed that John Boyega’s Jake Pentacost and Scott Eastwood’s Nate Lambert will pilot the leader, Gypsy Avenger. Bracer Phoenix will be a Jaeger that employs a third pilot who controls a giant vortex cannon. Saber Athena will be the most technically advanced Jaeger in the fleet and she’ll wield a pair of plasma swords. Titan Redeemer will be a brute force Jaeger that uses a “ball of death” attached to his arm. And rounding out the team will be Guardian Bravo, another brute force Jaeger that fights with what’s described as a “graphene arc whip.” As a little twist, we’ll also see a small jaeger called Scrapper that’s been “slapped together” by people pilfering and scrounging for Jaeger parts. 

John Boyega, who serves as producer for the film, expressed his excitement for it, and how being a producer allowed him to stretch his creativity in a different way than acting. “Basically everything that I wanted to see in Pacific Rim, you’ll see in this movie,” Boyega told the crowd. 

Boyega talked about how Idris Elba was a huge reason for why he enjoyed Pacific Rim so much. But as for Boyega’s character, Jake, he has the opposite feeling for Elba’s character Stacker, who we find out is Jake’s dad. “Jake doesn’t want to be like his father,” Boyega said. He fights against following in his father’s footsteps and even carrying the Pentecost name. “But he has to realize the Pentecost name still means something,” and that he needs to step up and lead the newer generation. 

Rather than explore Jake’s relationship with his sibling, Mako Mori — who was, disappointingly, not even mentioned during the main part of the panel — it appears the film will instead largely focus on Jake’s relationship with Nate. Jake and Nate were best friends as kids, but some drama has caused a rift in their relationship. Part of the movie will be about them working through their issues in order to drift together. “I enjoyed exploring coming back to a friendship, making up for lost time,” Boyega said. 

Newcomer Cailee Spaeny also talked about her first movie role as Amara, the tech savvy character. “Her family was all killed in first attack, so she dived into the Jaeger tech to make sure when the Kaiju do come back, she’ll be ready to fight.” Spaeny emphasized that Amara is an independent character who knows how to protect herself. “She’s super badass!” Spaeny said to audience cheers. 

Burn Gorman, who plays Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, was also in attendance. Gorman joked that Gottlieb “still has issues with personal hygiene” but that he’s also now the highest ranked scientist on the team — who finally has the appropriate budget, to boot! Gorman said he enjoyed playing Gottlieb as a man who’s very much affected by his time drifting with the Kaiju; I can only assume Gottlieb isn’t taking it quite well. 

Within the trailer you can see the stark difference from del Toro’s film: it has a distinct Power Rangers/Godzilla feel, with most of the carnage taking place in broad daylight and right on top of some Japanese city. The Jaegers look sleek and seem to be used to fighting as a group — to the point I expected them to combine a la Voltron — a stark contrast to the water-logged, dark, desperate brawls of the first film. Uprising certainly looks more comfortably mainstream than del Toro’s Pacific Rim, and we’ll have to see if that shift bolsters the story or just ends up making it more generic.

At the end of panel, DeKnight mentioned this is just one film in a series, and they hope this spins out into a Pacific Rim franchise. The Uprising trailer certainly bolsters this idea: “The war we thought we finished is just beginning,” we hear Jake say. This is another case of Hollywood being Hollywood, and I’m excited to see what a big blockbuster produced by Boyega will look like. But I can’t help but feel terribly bad for these characters. “We uncanceled the apocalypse so we could have a sequel,” DeKnight laughed. It sounds like these poor babies will never know peace, and we’ll all pay money to watch them fail to cancel the apocalypse over and over again. 

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Clara Mae lives and works in SF. If not at work, is probably off eating ramen, petting dogs, or attempting yoga. Tweets too much at @ubeempress.

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