Reel Reviews: Blockbuster lackluster

By on March 28, 2018

‘Pacific Rim Uprising’

Holy cats! Something finally knocked “Black Panther” out of the number one spot at the box office! “Pacific Rim Uprising,” the sequel to the 2013 action hit starring Idris Elba and directed by this year’s big Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro, smashed into theaters this weekend and put the Marvel Cinematic Universe down, but not out for the count.*

It has been a number of years since the intergalactic space monsters called Kaiju have invaded Earth. All seems well and good, at least as well and good as it could be in a world devastated by epic, city-destroying battles. Giant Kaiju bones decay around the world. The downed Jaeger robots humanity constructed to win the battle for Earth lay around slowly being dismantled by their makers.

In one of these scrap heaps is where we meet our heroes, Amara Namani (newbie Cailee Spaeny) and former cadet/hero’s son Jake Pentecost (John Boyega, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”). After being caught where they shouldn’t be, the two find themselves on the right side of history in a new battle with the Kaiju.

Blah, blah, blah. Insert lines about a few funny parts, magnificent CGI battle scenes featuring skyscraper-sized robots, and a plot loosely stitched together only to carry the movie forward and you have a full review of “Pacific Rim Uprising,” which was nowhere near as interesting as the first movie.

This movie takes full advantage of the popularity of young, strong, female heroes, and the character of Amara is the biggest bright spot in this movie. I think we will be seeing much more of Namani in the years to come. She owned her role in this movie, which was studded with scripted duds and dudes with testosterone issues.

I went into this movie not wanting to see it and I got what I paid for. What I wanted to see was the new Wes Anderson movie, “Isle of Dogs.”

*Note: “Avengers: Infinity War” opens in less than a month.

Oscar winner Alicia Vikander portrays a young Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider.” This version of the film is a preview to the Angelina Jolie adventures. (

‘Tomb Raider’

Meanwhile, “Tomb Raider” nosedived from its place as box office maid-of-honor and tumbled to fifth place amongst bad reviews, slacking ticket sales (especially compared to its 2001 “original”), and new releases (“Pacific Rim Uprising” and “Sherlock Gnomes”). Carrying a name similar to the original (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”) this version is a prequel to the Angelina Jolie adventures.

We meet Lara (Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”) when she is a young woman, caring nothing about her family’s fortune, and piecing together rent by running odd jobs. Oh, and she trains to fight, too. It seems her father (just like we knew from the Jolie films) was a bit of an adventurer and Lara gets twisted into one of the archeological super plots when she goes looking for the missing man. On the way, she outsmarts ancient booby traps, takes the video game inspired leap of faith, and fends off bad guys with a bow and arrow (because we can’t seem to get enough Katniss Everdeen in our lives). Oh, and she runs, and runs, and jumps and picks up a drunken sidekick (Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu) along the way.

In defense of this movie, it really didn’t try too hard to be anything more than what it was: a vehicle to reboot the franchise. We are introduced to this “new” Lara, given reason to connect with her, and are set up for the next film. For that basic attempt at being, well, basic, I commend it. Now, let’s see what happens with the next one.

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