Pacific Rim: Uprising (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jun 13, 2018
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Pacific Rim: Uprising (4K UHD Review)

Director

Steven S. DeKnight

Release Date(s)

2018 (June 19, 2018)

Studio(s)

Legendary Pictures/DDY (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: C-
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: C-

Pacific Rim: Uprising (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

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Review

Ten years have passed since the events of the original Pacific Rim. The world has doubled-down on the Jaeger program in its defense against the alien threat, but the kaiju have not returned. Still, those events have left a mark. Stacker Pentecost’s son, Jake (John Boyega, of Star Wars fame) has washed out of the defense program in favor of a life in the criminal underworld. But when he crosses paths with a young salvaged-tech hacker named Amara (Cailee Spaeny), who’s built an illegal Jaeger of her own, they’re both arrested and Jake is given a choice: rejoin the program or spend the rest of his life in jail. Soon, both Jake and Amara are training in the Shatterdome and not a moment too soon; the aliens haven’t forgotten about Earth and they’ll soon be back.

With the original Pacific Rim (see our review of that film in 4K here), director Guillermo del Toro managed to stake out a bit of unexpectedly fresh ground in the whole giant robots v. giant monsters milieu. He embraced both the genre and its obvious camp with seriousness and gusto, while adding a level of quirk, craft, and artistry that made it feel unique. Unfortunately, for this sequel, director Steven DeKnight has made nearly every obvious choice possible, going not only the usual bigger, faster, more intense route but adding younger, sexier, and more badass too. As a result, he’s pushed the Pacific Rim franchise out of its niche and straight into Power Rangers, Transformers, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Neon Genesis Evangelion territory. Everything here feels more generic and predictable, even the score, which is a pale shadow of Ramin Djawadi’s work on the original film. The relationship between Jake and Amara mostly works, and carries the film for a little while early on, but Boyega can only improvise so much life into this script. And of the original film’s heroes, Raleigh Becket is a no-show and Mako Mori (a returning bit part for Rinko Kikuchi) is done a terrible injustice for no more than a lazy convenience of plotting. The sole bright spot is provided by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the original film’s nerd squad, Doctors Geiszler and Gottleib, who deliver the film’s one good laugh in an awkward elevator fight.

Pacific Rim: Uprising was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (at 2.8 and 3.4K) using ARRI Alexa cameras and Panavision anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, upsampled to 4K, and graded for high dynamic range in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It’s presented here on Ultra HD in the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The image is very good looking over all, with nicely deep blacks and generally bright highlights. Colors are rich and vibrant, with all the desired pop, and detail is quite nice too. Fine texturing is only moderately-refined, though the anamorphic photography lends a pleasing cinematic quality to the image. There’s also a bit of noise in the upscaling, especially in visual effect shots, but this is a largely satisfying Ultra HD presentation.

Primary audio on the 4K disc is provided in English Dolby Atmos. The mix offers a moderately wide front soundstage and fine atmospherics, with full-sounding dialogue, and good bass support. Overall clarity is nice and sound effects positioning and movement are smooth, though the mix is surprisingly un-flashy. It’s not nearly as immersive and dynamic as the Atmos mix on the original Pacific Rim in 4K. Still, things get more impressive during the film’s battle sequences, in which the whole soundfield becomes more active and the height channels kick in more often. But while this is a solid action film mix, it just doesn't have the same wow factor of the sound for the previous film. Audio options are also available in Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitles included in English SDH, Spanish, and French.

Here’s a surprise: There are actually special features on Universal’s 4K disc. Both the included Blu-ray and the Ultra HD disc include the following (in HD):

  • Feature commentary with director Steven DeKnight
  • Deleted Scenes (8 scenes – 6:57 in all – with optional commentary)
  • Hall of Heroes (3:25) Bridge to Uprising (4:39)
  • The Underworld of Uprising (3:47)
  • Becoming Cadets (5:58)
  • Unexpected Villain (5:47)
  • Next Level Jaegers (5:08)
  • I Am Scrapper (2:42)
  • Going Mega (3:21)
  • Secrets of Shao (3:14)
  • Mako Returns (2:08)

Unfortunately, they’re all glossy and insubstantive, classic EPK fodder. Only the commentary is really worth your time. Note that the Blu-ray Disc in the package includes the film in 1080p HD and you also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is, speaking generously, an adequate sequel. But it’s also a huge letdown for anyone who loved the original film, as it sacrifices almost everything that was great about Del Toro’s earlier work in favor of convenience and ease. The truth is, this could just as well have been a video game. If you do like Uprising though (and more power to you), Universal’s 4K Ultra HD release is a nice upgrade over the standard Blu-ray option and provides sufficient A/V quality to satisfy.

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

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