The team behind “Pacific Rim Uprising” should send a cookie bouquet to Michael Bay.
The director’s “Transformers” franchise delivered a robot sequel so embarrassingly bad last year any robot adventure looks good in comparison.
Even the follow-up to the modestly successful 2013 film “Pacific Rim.”
Faint praise? When you’re talking sequels that have little reason to exist you work with what you have. For “Pacific Rim Uprising,” that means cheering a few comic cracks that don’t grind your teeth and some solid robot-on-robot violence.
Expect anything more, and we’re talking a serious fool’s errand.
John Boyega of “Star Wars” fame stars as Jake, a character we’ve never seen before. He’s a reluctant hero, uneasy with authority and unable to shake the shadow of his famous father.
Totally, 100 percent original.
It’s been 10 years since towering “Kaiju” creatures roamed the earth, threatening humanity’s survival. Jake’s pappy (Idris Elba) helped lead the planet’s defense. Now, his son is dragged back into the “Jaeger” robot army. The force has been kept intact in case the critters try anything funny again.
What are the odds, right?
Jake is joined by Nate (Scott Eastwood), his brother in action movie cliches. Together, they oversee a young cadre of Jaeger pilots (including a plucky Cailee Spaeny) whose skills might just come in handy.
Returning for more tepid yuks is Charlie Day, whose screechy voice gives life to a few otherwise moribund moments.
“Uprising” knows well enough not to muck up the franchise formula. We see plenty of robot action, even if the charm of watching Jaeger pilots pull the strings is no longer interesting.
Was it ever?
Director Steven S. DeKnight, taking over for overrated auteur Guillermo Del Toro, stages the action with a clarity lacking in the “Transformers” franchise.
For that alone we give thanks.
RELATED: How the ’80s ‘Transformers’ Crushed Michael Bay’s Franchise
The rest? Massive plot holes. Action sequences where the stakes can only be seen with a microscope and a running time that saps what little fun we’re having away. Can’t a big, dumb action movie clock in at a tight 90 minutes anymore?
Less is more, folks. It’s not complicated. And it’s cheaper!
President Donald Trump might bring hardcore liberals to his platform if he’d sign an executive order banning the phrase “I got this!” from action movies like “Pacific Rim Uprising.”
The movie does offer an aggressively diverse cast and repeated talk of “family.” They might as well flash a sign saying, “see? Just like those ‘Fast and Furious’ movies!” Only this franchise is roughly 1/10 as exhiliarating as any “F&F” joint.
HiT or Miss: “Pacific Rim Uprising” wrote the book on unnecessary sequels. It’s too long, too noisy but still carries a glimmer of the original film’s spark.