(On Cable TV, November 2018) In discussing the first Pacific Rim movie with fellow nerds, I often feel as if I saw a different film than everyone else: Sure, it was OK, but wasn’t it a bit disappointing? A bit too darkly-lit, a bit blandly acted, a bit underwhelming in its third act? Now it feels as if I’m having an equally-contrarian view of sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, because it directly fixes what I had been complaining about in the first movie: It takes place in daylight, it lets the combat scenes breathe a bit, has more even acting (goodbye Charlie Hunnam, you were not an asset), and even goes a bit further than the original in developing the human/Precursors dynamics. Sure, I do miss Idris Elba … but not that much, nor do I feel that Guillermo del Toro is essential to the series considering how Steven S. DeKnight does in the director’s chair. In some ways, Pacific Rim: Uprising feels like a more fully-achieved vision of the series’ basic kaiju-vs-mecha premise: By the time it brings teenagers to fight monsters in Tokyo with gigantic exoskeletons, well, this is what this is all about, right? No amount of geographic weirdness, such as putting Mount Fuji right next to the Japanese capital (it’s really more than 100kms away), is enough to make me change my mind. The human/alien romance is disturbing enough, the integration with the series’ existing mythology feels consistent (well, mostly) and there are quite a few subplots to keep things interesting. It’s certainly not perfect—more time to develop the subplots could have helped, and I’m never too happy about the blatant pandering to the Chinese market. Overall, though, I had more fun with Pacific Rim: Uprising than the original, something that the much lighter tone does help a lot. Mark me down as a contrarian if you wish: I’ll either deny the allegation or wear it as a badge of honour.