Separated from the kid-in-a-candy-store, “I get to make my own giant monster movie” craziness Guillermo Del Toro brought to the 2013 original, this sequel feels more like a better Transformers movie than anything Michael Bay could dream of. Set 10 years after the events of the first, it stars John Boyega as Jake Pentecost—son of Idris Elba’s heroic Stacker—who’s illegally salvaging scraps from decommissioned Jaeger robots when he’s forced to rejoin the forced defending humanity from an extra-dimensional threat. The world-building is a bit thinner here—though it’s amusing to see black-market Sriracha as a hot commodity—and the first half is something of a slog through the throat-clearing and reluctant hero-ing of Jake and his young protégé (Cailee Spaeny, who is totally Ellen Page 2.0). But Boyega and Spaeny are a major upgrade over Charlie Hunnam, providing a decent enough bridge to the reason we’re all here: to see giant things beat the crap out of one another and destroy Tokyo. While this tale doesn’t feel as directly indebted to vintage Toho/Toei features as Del Toro’s, it brings enough mutated weirdness to the action that the silly sense of fun carries through.
Director: Steven DeKnight
Producer: Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Guillermo del Toro, John Boyega, Femi Oguns, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Eric McLeod
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Max Zhang, Charlie Day, Levi Meaden, Rahart Adams, Karan Brar, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriguez, Ivanna Sakhno, Nick Tarabay and Wesley Wong