After years of development, Pacific Rim fans are finally getting a sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 hit -- specifically Steven DeKnight's Pacific Rim Uprising. The story is set 10 years after the original, and centers on a new pair of leads, but does feature important tie backs to the first film, narratively, and with certain characters. That being said, those expecting more of the same from the follow-up may be surprised, given that the filmmakers behind the project are giving a different vibe that generates a more awe-inspiring feel. Or as producer Cale Boyter put it when we spoke to him on the set of the film earlier this year,
There's something aspirational at the center of this. Guillermo [del Toro] made a different set of decisions, a more bravado, Top Gun-y thing. And we just wanted to kind of slow things down and get inside the magic of the idea. That's what basically informed everything we were doing. We wanted to make this concept resonate for a larger group of people. We realized the first movie really resonated with women, and with people who skewed younger, which is great. So we wanted to lean into that. And there were ideas that were organic to the universe that Guillermo had that just made sense to us.
While Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim centered on a hot-shot pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and the new trainee he is working with (Rinko Kikuchi), the dynamic between the leads is much different in Pacific Rim Uprising, lending to the film having a different kind of feel than the last movie. Both John Boyega and newcomer Cailee Spaeny are notably younger than their predecessors, and as I learned while visiting the Sydney, Australia set of the film earlier this year, it has the effect of changing the upcoming blockbuster's attitude.
As far as capturing "the magic of the idea," from what we were told on set it seems that a lot of that concept will come from the role played by Cailee Spaeny. A 15-year-old girl from California, Amara is an orphan who has spent the last 10 years living on her own following the death of her parents -- but is essentially obsessed with Jaegers. She has not only managed to build one of her own, which she dubs Scrapper, but has an intimate knowledge about all of the different models and their abilities. Naturally, entering the Shatterdome where all of the Jaegers are kept is a mind-blowing event for her, and the film hopes that the audiences will get to share in her wonder and astonishment.
Just watching the trailer for Pacific Rim Uprising, you do feel that the movie has less of the scary monsters-meet-Top Gun vibe that Guillermo del Toro's feature accentuated -- but that's to be expected. Steven DeKnight is a very different filmmaker (this is actually his directorial debut after a long career in television), and it makes sense that the project would reflect that:
Pacific Rim fans will have their opportunity to marvel at Uprising when the feature arrives in theaters on March 23, 2018. Between now and then, be on the lookout for more from our time on the blockbuster's set!