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As a sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising has an interesting bit of distance from its predecessor. Not only is it set a full decade later, but returning stars are exclusively in supporting roles as new characters (played by John Boyega and Cailee Spaney) show up as the leads. Of course, that doesn't mean writer/director Steven DeKnight didn't still feel the need to deeply reflect on the first film, and he recently explained to me how rewatching the 2013 blockbuster influenced his work:
The first thing that really struck me was that there is no way in hell I'm going to try to imitate Guillermo [del Toro]. He's unique among unique directors. His visual eye, his artistic ability... so there was no way I was going to try and do this movie at night in the rain or underwater, because no one can match what he did in the first movie. So that's part of the reason that I wanted to do it during broad daylight with the action scenes. And I also wanted to give the audience a familiar movie with elements from the first movie, but something completely different - which is also what led us to the cadets, and bringing in the idea of passing the torch to the next generation of Jaeger pilots.
Steven DeKnight was given a formidable task when he was handed the reins of the Pacific Rim franchise, and earlier this month I had the opportunity to discuss the job with him during the Pacific Rim Uprising Los Angeles press day. Discussing what he got out of rewatching the first movie, DeKnight noted that it inspired him to create a different kind of blockbuster than Guillermo del Toro, focusing less on the scary monster aspect of the universe, and instead more on the fun, brightly-lit action led by youthful characters.
Of course, fidelity to source material is incredibly important in the world of franchise filmmaking, and this was something that Steven DeKnight fully recognized in the making of his feature directorial debut. While he knew that he wanted to change Pacific Rim Uprising tonally compared to its predecessor, he also knew that he wanted to keep all of the original, impressive ideas that made the 2013 blockbuster stand out in the first place -- using the concept of "The Drift" as an example. Said DeKnight,
I didn't want to change any of the basic DNA of the movie. I wanted there to obviously be a breach, Kaiju, Jaegers... a lot of people later on in the process were asking me on Twitter, 'Is the drift still part of the movie?' Of course! Yes, it has to be. The idea of two people working together, having to be in sync to operate one of these giant Jaegers is baked into the DNA of the series, and I really wanted to keep that.
You can watch Steven DeKnight talk all about his process rewatching the original Pacific Rim -- including its effect on the immensely important international/multicultural aspects of Pacific Rim Uprising -- by clicking play on the video below!
If you're personally a Pacific Rim fan, this is definitely the weekend to give the original a rewatch, as Pacific Rim Uprising is now out everywhere ready for your viewing enjoyment. Give it a look at your local theater, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the cast and director of the new blockbuster.