- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The box office-stumbling sequel to the war between man and monstrously massive monsters gets an ultra-high definition upgrade to hopefully appeal to new fans through its impressive special effects in Pacific Rim: Uprising (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 111 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $37.98).

For the latest movie, Guillermo Del Toro’s cinematic homage to Godzilla meets the Power Rangers moved to the hands of newbie feature film director Steven S. DeKnight.

His vision offers ear-pounding battles involving extraterrestrials called Kaiju (translated as “strange beast”) and multistory, bipedal mobile mechs called Jaegers (controlled by human pilots) and tosses in just a pinch of human drama.

The story take place 10 years after the successful battle for Earth and finds Jake Pentecost, the son of first film’s hero, (John Boyega doing his best Han Solo impression) giving up being a Jaeger pilot for the Pacific Defense Corps and preferring to scavenge for old mech parts to sell in the black market.

Of course, he eventually goes back to Corps, training new pilots, getting in trouble with old co-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood, looking like a younger version of his dad) and having to save the world again when an alien rift gets forced open and the gargantuan monsters return.

Focus throughout is on the joyous epic fights between mech and monster, the massive collateral damage-taking place in cites and a final skirmish sucking up the last 30 minutes of the movie.

Despite some too-obvious plot twists and trying to understand Mr. Boyega through his too-thick British accent, fans of the original will gleefully embrace the computer effects-loaded action sequences that bring these behemoths to life.

4K in action: I can’t think of a better way to watch overtly crushing and loud battles than through this aurally and visually enhanced presentation. With the film upscaled from 2K to 4K and the addition of a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it’s a popcorn-crunching, room-shaking experience.

Naturally, watching a colorful parade of special effects studio Double Negative’s slickly designed Jaegers does not disappoint. I’ll reference such metallic stars as the bluish-grey Gypsy Avenger (eventually brandishing flaming swords); the burnt-orangish Saber Athena; and the olive-green Bracer Phoenix (with cannon bullet shell casings the size of cars).

The Kaiju also look lifelike, resembling crustacean-like entities with detail down to saliva rubber banding around their open mandibles, and visible veins of electrified blue blood undulating through them. The fluorescent blood even pours out by the gallons when a beast takes nearly fatal damage, making for a messy visual surprise.

High-dynamic range color saturation really shines when examining the LED hologram-enhanced cockpits or the chipped metallic armor on the battle-ravaged Jaegers; inspecting the damage inflicted on buildings in major cities; or when watching a mega Kaiju hybrid climbing up the side of the snowy white Mount Fuji.

Best extras: Although all contained on the 4K disc (bravo Universal) one should not bother with the 10 short promotional featurettes (averaging 4 minutes each) or the eight deleted scenes (almost 7 minutes in total).

Instead, focus on watching the film again with an optional solo commentary track starring Mr. DeKnight.

He sporadically talks about production specifics such as locations, stunt work, Jaeger designs and homages to other movies and directors, but he also reminds listeners that he made this movie for audiences to have fun watching.

However, if you still want some background, watch six minutes on the key Mark VI Jaegers in the film, explained by Mr. Boyega.

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