Sequels usually bring back familiar faces and recognizable stars, as they're unwilling to drastically shake up what worked well the first time. But when the "stars" of your franchise are gigantic robots and skyscraper-sized reptile creatures, you can reinvent the wheel for your follow-up chapter. This is what Pacific Rim Uprising appears to be trying, as the first official trailer doubles down on Jaegars and Kaiju but introduces, essentially, a whole new cast. Check this out:
Directed by new director Steven S. DeKnight (who's taking over for Guillermo Del Toro), Pacific Rim Uprising continues the global battle between the nations of the world and the emerging Kaiju -- creatures from another world/dimension who, in the first movie, emerged from a split in the Earth's crust and stampeded on our unsuspecting cities like Godzilla having a bad weekend. To combat the Kaiju, society built Jaegars, two-pilot vehicles that allowed us to rock and sock ravaging Kaiju. The plot escalates in Uprising, in ways we're still trying to learn.
If you couldn't tell from the trailer, and his use of the word "apocalypse" in his inspirational speech, John Boyega is playing the son of Idris Elba's Stacker Pentecost -- the commanding leader who gave his life in the original film. Jake Pentecost (Boyega) is part of a new generation of soldiers who, as the trailer lays out, were born into this world of robots and monsters, and know very little outside of the war-torn environment they have to call home. Only, the battle that they thought concluded in the original movie has expanded, as Charlie Day's manic scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler explains that the Kaiju have evolved. Which means the Jaegars have to improve alongside them.
The rest of the trailer delivers exactly what you would have hoped from a continuation of the Pacific Rim story. Boyega, Scott Eastwood and Adria Arjona will join original Kaiju ass-kicker Rinko Kicuchi as Mako Mori in the war against over-developed monsters. The myth of the rift in Pacific Rim, which we explored briefly when Charlie Hunnam's character plunged between dimensions, was one that raised a fair number of questions about the existence of the Kaiju, and their ultimate goal. I'm hoping that, in addition to delivering robot-on-monster action, the sequel advances SOME of the story and character development with these new cast members.