Pacific Rim 2: 2 Reinvented
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
Well, the one thing you can say is that this movie most definitely does not suffer from sequel's disease. That would require similar elements, and there are almost none. And those elements that are in both movies are barely recognizable. There was a bit of a story about redeeming an ex-jaeger pilot, but that seems to have been a subplot. Aside from that the new writers/director changed everything from the jaegers to the characters, to their families, to the rigs, etc. etc. And while trying to tell the same story in a sequel is a definite mistake I'm really not sure completely changing the world we loved works much better. Any one change was not significant, but all of them together are simply too damned much. And half the changes make no sense when you start applying logic, or science . . . or cartography. Honestly this smacks of another interstellar; a movie that really should have been written as a fantasy because the writers know nothing about science.
But enough of generalizations. We'll start small, with the battle rigs the pilots use. In the first movie these are reminiscent of plate male in style. I always assumed that was to provide protection to the pilots when shit was exploding in there cockpit. But in the second movie these functional armors are replaced with suits of small rounded plates suspended in cloth weave. Its almost as if they've decided to punish the pilots for letting their jaeger get damaged by ensuring any debris is guided into the cloth. Seriously, there's a reason you've never seen actual armor that looks that ridiculous. Must be some corporate weeny's idea to save money.
And this isn't the only place that functionality seems to be sacrificed for a coolness factor. Call me a purist but there was a brutally practical beauty to Gypsy Danger 1.0. It was clear that the designers didn't give one good god damn how cool it looked. Their only focus was utility. Gypsy Danger 2.0 looks more like something a producer likes because it will sell toys. On top of this, in the first movie they make it abundantly clear that these are multi megaton (weight not dynamite yield) objects smashing into each other. The way they take hits, the way the crash, even the way they pick things up, all indicated massive weight. In the second movie the way the Jaegers are constantly tossed around makes it look as if they were made of carbon fiber. Well, except for the very first one you see, which is twice as tall as the others. Of course that one isn't used in the fight. But why make it easy, right?
Then there's the characters. Hermann Gottlieb (played by Burn Gorman) has transformed from a barely coordinated stuttering almost Stephen Hawking (may he rest in peace) into a man who has clearly affected a limp so he has an excuse to have a cane with him, presumably for moments when he decides to go all Jackie Chan on an elevator full of security guards wearing protective gear. Newt Geiszler (played by Charlie Day) has transformed from a slightly eccentric brilliant scientist willing to do whatever it takes, to a snobbish genocidal maniac. And no, that doesn't make any sense; I'll get into that later. Mako's change is the only one that makes any sense; she would have matured just from filling her father's shoes. And those are the only characters that made it into the second movie!
On top of this, apparently Stacker Pentacost has a son. And not only does he have a son but he has a son who is considered to be an exceptional pilot. But I'm sure it makes sense to explain his lack of appearance in the first movie by stating he tried to pilot a Jaeger by himself. Seems a bit of overkill to kick him out, don't you think? I mean, these guys are basically fighter jocks. They push themselves and their boundaries constantly. Its what the type of person you need to perform that job does. If we court-martialed every pilot who did something stupid we'd have to change the name of the air-force to the emu-force. And we're not on the edge of annihilation! But even if we assumed Stacker wasn't removing his nose to spite his face on an historical level, don't you think that when he was scraping for every pilot and jaeger he could get his hands on he'd have thought to look up his apparently legendarily gifted son? Seems a minor oversight to me.
And what about Newt's weird change of face? Think about this; he obviously didn't get co-opted when he drifted with Hermann, because Hermann didn't get co-opted. That means it had to happen with the first drift . . . before he provided the information that allowed them to seal the gates. If he'd been co-opted by the 'precursors' (which is also an idiotic name unless they came from our world first; seriously I think they called them that because its close to 'Forerunner' and they just wanted the context of evil aliens trying to destroy mankind) what possible reason would he have had to provide any information at all? Would it not have made more sense to simply claim his drift-with-an-alien-brain idea didn't work?
Now I know what you're thinking; what if it was a lower level conditioning that took time, right? The problem's with that kind of setup is that it simply can't work. In short, even if we state that mind to mind brainwashing would be effective it would still have to be maintained. But how? Newt killed the brain he drifted solo with. And Hermann stated that they only had a few minutes to drift with the one they shared the experience (ah there's that male bonding again) with before it died. So where did he get it? I think its safe to assume that the brains from Leatherback, and the 3 fought in the abyss were unusable. And we can assume that Hannibal Chow didn't have one lying around, because if he had he would have given it to Newt instead of dragging him to the salvage sight. I assume that he cloned the brain he's drifting with in the movie, but where was the reinforcement from the point of his initial contact to the point that that clone could be drifted with? And please, don't try to tell me that drifting with their brains alters our brain to receive them. I mean, if that were the case then why bother cloning a brain at all? I suppose it makes sense if you don't think about it.
But wait, there's more! This is all warm up for the big, jaeger sized plot hole.
Because in this movie they unveil that Kaiju blood apparently goes critical when it encounters rare earth elements. Now, I'm not going to get into the likely-hood of this idea. After all Xenomorphs have acid for blood, and when you consider the purpose of blood you realize just how ridiculous that is. That said, there are still a few issues with this. First, if the blood could be weaponized I guarantee it would have made Hannibal Chow's list of saleable uses for ginsued Kaiju. Second, the Precursors' master plan apparently includes getting a Kaiju to immolate itself in Mt Fuji so the ring of fire (the chain of volcanoes, not the song) will all go up in an highly unlikely chain reaction that will precursor-form our planet. Not sure why it had to be Mt. Fuji since many volcanoes have a high amount of rare earth elements; they get ejected with the magma. But it is stated that the Kaiju were just trying to get to this volcano by shortest straight lines. The issue with that is that the breach is in the Pacific (hence the name) Ocean. Mt. Fuji is on the western edge of the Pacific. The issue here is that its made very clear in the first movie that Kaiju have hit the United States mainland, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, and Hawaii. Now it is possible for a route originating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean to pass through both Australia and Japan (they'd all have to go to Japan). But there is literally no reason for Kaiju trying to make it from anywhere in the Pacific to make landfall in any other area they've attacked. Someone probably should have looked at a map I guess.
On the plus side, we don't see flying creatures that carry jaegers high enough to cause re-entry effects in the course of a minute. Now that was ridiculous.
What they should have done was suggest that there were some form of Jaeger Olympics (I mean who wouldn't go to that?) to explain why we still had them. Raleigh could have been written out by stating he objected to the very idea; perhaps on the grounds that he felt it degraded the sacrifices of the dead. The return of the Kaiju (perhaps by their masters simply opening another rift; they have the technology) could force these competitors together into a team. This would have some of the feel of the various pilots in one trying to form a fighting force, but it also opens the way for a good story about the value of honest competition. Maybe have one pilot who cheats (does it have to be the Russian again?) and is proven utterly worthless against the kaiju.
When I initially sat down to write this review I was going to give this movie a 75%; after all it does have some good character interaction and some humor. But after going over everything wrong with it at once I'm downgrading its review to a 65%. In short I'm willing to bite the cost of the soda I bought but I think Steven DeKnight owes me the cost of admission. If you must see it wait for it to hit Netflix. I'm sure they'll get it cheap.