The one thing I really hate about sequels is, many times the original writer(s) and director never come back to give the second film any justice, just like in the perfectly dreadful Caddyshack 2 or Son of the Mask. So, what do you often get? A horrible screenplay, terrible direction, and a cast that is trying WAY too hard to please.
Yes, it’s been ten years since those pesky Godzilla-sized kaiju monsters have bothered us (if you remembered the 2013 movie), and all is good with the world. Yeah. Right. With all the Pacific ‘breaches’ sealed, the peacekeeping Jaeger’s (those gigantic robots that protected us) have been mothballed and are now sold for junk on the black market. This is where we meet teenage scrappy tomboy & ace mechanic, Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) and ex-Jaeger pilot turned junkyard thief, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega). They’re both arrested and forced to join a new Jaeger unit that’s being mobilized.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s impressive Shao Corporation wants their fleet of drone Jaegers to take over, as they feel two human pilots for each Jaeger are a waste. Naturally, problems arise quickly when a rogue Jaeger attacks Hong Kong, and it’s up to Jake and his estranged former co-pilot, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood–son of Clint) to go get that giant robot with their old Jaeger, the Gipsy Avenger. After a major battle, it’s discovered that the villainous rogue Jaeger was powered by some kind of home-grown kaiju tech! But, who would do something that diabolical?
Looks like it’s up to the two kooky research scientists from the old movie, Dr. Newt Geiszler & Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Charlie Day & Burn Gorman), to figure out what’s what. There’s Jaeger cadet training & hazing for young Amara (like in Ender’s Game), sinister motives being played (like in Iron Man 2), and a whole lotta robot street fighting (like in every Transformers movie ever made) while the head of the Shao Corp, the heartless Liwen Shao (Jian Tian), demands her drones be deployed for a whirlwind exhibition of strength for the press. I don’t have to tell you how THAT goes! Needless to say, calamity and utter mayhem ensues with a few kaiju escaping into the wild. There’s catastrophic property damage, untold deaths, and some of the silliest fighting of giant robots vs giant monsters you ever saw.
Guillermo del Toro’s original movie was fun, imaginative, and had a decent story with a underlying core plot about humanity and self-esteem. But, like I said, nobody from the original came back to give this messy sequel anything worth remembering. No director/ writer del Toro at the helm this time; instead we have four writers (newbie Emily Carmichael, TV writer’s Kira Snyder and Steven S. DeKnight, and T.S. Nowlin, who wrote all the Maze Runner movies) and combined they slapped together a plot-holed riddled lazy sequel that barely generates any originality. Clichéd from the get-go and peppered with some of the worst ‘jokes’ and lite comedy, I was cringing at their attempts at humor. The only thing decent were the excellent CGI SPFX. At least they got THAT right!
This is co-writer DeKnight’s motion picture directorial debut, as he’s only directed TV shows like Smallville and Daredevil, and he does shows a nice sci-fi flair, especially in all the action scenes. But this is NO DelToro picture, not by a long-shot. Boyega (with a Cockney accent) isn’t even trying here and Eastwood is just a pretty face collecting a paycheck. At least Spaeny is giving it some effort. Most of the characters are just two-dimensional and cartoonish, and my two favorites from the first movie (Gottlieb & Gietzer) have lost all the spark they had from the original. Also missing is the wonderful Ron Perlman as black marketeer Hannibal Chau. Where was he??
Dennis, out on the road with his new ‘master’, comes face-to-face with the creature and accidentally kills it! Back in the city, Bruno the Questionable promises to wed Dennis to the Princess, even though Dennis STILL wants to marry the acerbic Griselda. This is one crazy and unappreciated movie written by Gilliam and Charles Alverson, who co-wrote Gilliam’s masterpiece, Brazil. It’s farcical, extremely strange and non-sensical, loaded with sight-gags and odd little touches, and very, very, funny. There are hilarious side plots like Wat Dabney (Jerrod Wells), a friend to Dennis, who cuts off his feet to get some money, and the bizarre cult of monster-worshipers that set themselves on fire as penance.
Gilliam, working with an incredible small budget, relied on friends coming in for bit parts (Terry Jones, for instance) and shooting down a single castle corridor using multiple takes and angles to make it LOOK like different corridors. In fact, all the sets were from abandoned movies lying around, like Oliver!, and the costumes were all second hand and used. The director even cast himself as The Man with Rocks for one scene, just to keep the budget down.