Welcome back! Get ready for another double feature movie review. I'm going to discuss Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One. These movies seem to have a similar target audience, but they also have many differences. Which film is better? Do either of them deserve accolades? I'll tell you all about it. Let's start with Pacific Rim.
Here's the premise for the second Pacific Rim movie. Around ten years ago, an alien race called Precursors released giant monsters known as Kaiju from another dimension. They wreaked havoc on the earth until humans invented enormous robots called Jaegers. It took two people to control a single Jaeger; one pilot for each side of the brain. The Jaegers ultimately destroyed the Kaiju and closed the interdimensional portal. Now somebody is controlling rogue Jaegers and planning to release more Kaiju. The pilots want to find out who turned against them to prevent apocalyptic chaos.
I'm going to be honest. This wasn't a very well made film, but it has some merit. In fact, Uprising is an absolute guilty pleasure. It's a lot of fun with great action scenes and whimsical elements. Like the first installment, Uprising takes a lot of influences from Power Rangers, Transformers, Godzilla, and several anime series. I don't think we're supposed to take this film too seriously. It's just supposed to be entertaining. We get a smorgasbord of giant robots and monsters beating each other up. It's sinfully delightful. For those of you who have kids, it's actually not bad for families who enjoy adventures. The fight scenes are energetic, but not scary or gory. I think young adults and children will get a kick out of the Jaegers and Kaiju. The film has really good pacing too. It flies along without dragging. I'm getting tired of movies that feel slow and redundant, so this was quite refreshing.
Uprising has a couple decent lead roles. John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of an exceptional Jaeger pilot who was in the first Pacific Rim movie. Boyega is amusing and a pretty good action star. He was a smart casting choice. I also enjoyed Cailee Spaeny as Amara Namani. She's one of the new recruits and a very spunky young lady. I like her attitude, wit, and fighting style. Amara has a decent rapport with Jake; almost like a bratty younger sister. Regarding supporting roles, I thought Jing Tian was solid as Liwen Shao, an independent creator of Jaegers. Shao is driven and a shrewd business woman, but she's also a brilliant scientist. She's determined to be a competitor in the market and it will be hard for the original Jaeger makers to keep up.
I'm going to be lenient on the visual effects. Truthfully, everything looks like it came from a video game. But you know what? It works pretty well for this type of film. I really like the Jaegers and Kaiju. They look pretty awesome. I would take the Jaegers over anything in the Transformers franchise. The Jaegers have some new abilities in this movie and it creates great visual effects with decent variety. You might think the visuals would become redundant, but I never got bored with it.
Here's the bad part. The script is quite weak. It's very thin and some elements don't make a lot of sense, especially regarding character choices. I've seen video games with more substantial plots. A lot of the dialogue is downright silly. It's supposed to be funny and some of the humor falls flat. Half of the dialogue isn't anything people would say in real life. Even though the film is light and fun, there could have been a little more effort to make a decent script.
Aside from the few characters I already mentioned, the rest of the cast was unimpressive. The acting wasn't very good and much of the dialogue was stilted. I wasn't particularly worried about character development, but the story doesn't give me an incentive to care about anyone except a couple roles. That means any of the characters are disposable.
I also wish the directing was better. Some people might not agree with me, but I believe it's the director's job to make the film a cohesive work. It's a big task, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. I don't feel like much effort went into this movie except visual effects and action scenes. Everything else was just slapped together. I'll give the film makers credit for making an entertaining movie, but it could have been somewhat better.
By the way, the theatrical trailers spoil a lot of important scenes in the movie. It's very unfortunate. I still enjoyed the film, but the element of surprise was ruined several times. So, don't watch the trailers if you haven't done it yet. The trailers were very cool, but it's not a good marketing idea to include so many scenes.
Is Pacific Rim: Uprising worth the price in movie theaters? Actually, I would say yes. Watch it on the biggest screen possible, like IMAX or other deluxe options. It's a lot of fun and we don't see enough whimsical films. Take the whole family. I'm sure they'll enjoy it. Uprising is a great choice for action movie buffs and anyone who likes robots or giant monsters. If you're not a fan of this genre, skip it. Let's move on to Ready Player One.
Both of these films have a lot of action and elaborate visual effects. However, they're completely different movies. Ready Player One is about a young man named Wade Watts and he lives in a post-apocalyptic future where overpopulation is making life miserable in the United States. Most people escape from their crummy lives by playing in a digital world called the Oasis. It's a really futuristic role-playing experience. Gamers establish most of their hobbies, friendships, and interests in the Oasis. Basically, people would prefer to live in a digital world instead of reality. The creator of the Oasis is now deceased, but he left something interesting and life altering for everyone. Three keys are hidden within the digital world and they will open a doorway to the Oasis' most valuable assets. Whoever collects all three keys and wins at the end will become the official master of the Oasis. Gamers will do anything to find these keys and it's once heck of a journey.
I read the novelization of Ready Player One and it's a very cool book. It seems like a tricky adaptation, but Stephen Spielberg pulled it off. He rarely makes bad films. The directing held everything together and made the film accessible to a variety of age groups. For example, you might believe this film works for teenagers and hardcore gamers. But I think many people could enjoy this movie. It's interesting with great characters and fantastic action sequences. Spielberg brings a lot of heart and soul to Ready Player One. It doesn't feel like a cheap cash grab at all.
This film has top notch CGI. It deserves at least an Academy Award nomination in visual effects. Most of the visual effects have a video game quality and it's completely appropriate. Several scenes occur in a video game universe, so it makes sense for the CGI to have a lot of game influences. The graphics are elaborate and crystal clear. I'm also impressed with the film editing. Ready Player One is bombarded with visual elements and it runs quite efficiently from one scene to the next. The sound mixing and editing is exceptional. I would also expect Academy Award nominations for both sound categories. But you know how it goes. The Academy usually snubs my favorite movies.
I wouldn't say the performances are tremendous, but the characters are still great. They're relatable in some ways because human beings are so dependent on technology in the real world. I felt invested in their experiences, dreams, and emotions. Despite the huge digital element, the characters seem genuine and real. I definitely rooted for Wade and his crew. We seem to have a problem with villains in modern action films, but Ben Mendelsohn was really solid as the corporate overlord named Nolan Sorrento. He's crafty, greedy, and a little bit dorky. Sorrento will do anything to win. This character isn't a terrifying villain, but he's very intelligent, strategic, and quite effective.
Ready Player One makes a valid commentary about the technological era. People are so absorbed in technology and it becomes hard for some individuals to distinguish fantasy from reality. It's a slippery slope that can have dangerous or unhealthy consequences. With that said, periodic escapes from reality can be entertaining, therapeutic, and meaningful in their own right. I suppose it's important to strike a balance between entertainment and reality.
I seriously geeked out during this movie. There are so many references to pop culture. It's awesome to see familiar characters and items from popular franchises. I saw references to Star Wars, Halo, Akira, Back to the Future, DC comics, Street Fighter, The Iron Giant, and a ton more. It's a fun and whimsical experience. Here's the best part. The audience will see whatever is familiar and special to them. Naturally, we're not going to recognize every character in cinema and gaming. However, we'll catch whatever we enjoy.
Keep in mind, the film is significantly different from the book. It has the same characters, themes, and conflicts. But most of the scenes are considerably different. Believe it or not, that's a good thing. Spielberg puts everything together in a great way and it won't be predictable for people who read the book. The movie should still be entertaining for the book fans.
I have a little bit of criticism. This film has some pacing issues. It runs approximately for two hours and twenty minutes. That's pretty much how it feels. It's kind of hard to explain because the film isn't boring. Certain scenes need to move along quicker or more efficiently and the overall film seems a bit too long. A flat two hours or slightly less would have been sufficient.
It's not the most exceptional storytelling either. I'm not saying the writing is bad at all, but it isn't particularly complex or substantial outside of the central message. It definitely seems like a video game plot. Granted, it works fine in the long run. Ready Player One is certainly better than other video game movies.
Overall, I absolutely recommend this movie; especially for anyone who enjoys huge blockbusters with a lot of visual effects. It's fine for kids too, but I know certain elements will go over heads. See it in IMAX or other large screen formats if you're willing to pay the extra money. I'm not a fan of 3D, but Ready Player One is probably a good selection for the format.
If you only have the time and money to see one of these movies, see Ready Player One. It's definitely the superior film. Both of them are a lot of fun. Even if you're not going to see any films in theaters, I would recommend watching these movies on streaming services or Blu-ray.
That's the end of my double feature review. Have you seen either of these films yet? Leave a comment if you want to say anything. Watch out for more topics about steampunk, movies, gaming, and pop culture in general. I'm giving a steampunk workshop at the Big Bear Lake Library next Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Come and visit if you live in the area. Thanks for reading my post and I'll see you guys next time.
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