‘Pacific Rim Uprising': More Than 30 Things To Know About the Monster Sequel

It’s hot in Australia, 104 to be exact. But on the sound stages of Pacific Rim Uprising, things are heating up in an entirely different way. John Boyega and Scott Eastwood are suited up and strapped inside of a Jaeger Conn-Pod. Sparks fly (literally) as Boyega gets taken out in battle, hanging limp in his harness. It’s an intense couple of moments, but as the buzzer sounds, we watch Boyega straighten, reset, and prepare himself for another round of Kaiju beat-downs.

Later in the day, my fellow journalists and I would be put to the test on our own, sparring with stunt coordinators from the film and learning that what Boyega and Eastwood made look easy was in fact, a serious challenge that would test your brain and body (and, of course, embarrass those not gifted with hand-eye coordination). But in between all the action on set, I had a chance to speak to many of the talents involved in the production, including stars Boyega, Eastwood and newcomer Cailee Spaeny, director Steven DeKnight and producer Cale Boyter to get the latest and greatest on the heavily anticipated sequel.

Here’s everything you need to know about Pacific Rim Uprising, straight from the set:

  • To hear DeKnight tell it, little of del Toro’s original script is left. “I cherry picked the best parts of three scripts,” one of which was del Toro’s.

  • Del Toro has been involved in the ideating process and was involved on many different drafts.  “We send him all the visuals and everything,” DeKnight added.

  • Due to production constraints, the final script was put together in about “three weeks,” according to DeKnight.
  • A script for the sequel was written with Charlie Hunnam in mind before he committed to Papillon, and scheduling conflicts prevented him from starring in the film.
  • Boyter mentioned that the film had begun production before the final script was locked. “We were already on the tracks. It’s par for the course.”

    Image via Universal Pictures

  • Boyega’s character is Jake Pentecost, Stacker Pentecost’s (Idris Elba’s) son, but he’s hasn’t quite followed in his father’s footsteps. When we meet him, he’s a “rogue” and a “criminal,” selling Jaeger parts to pay off gambling debts.
  • Boyega took Elba’s performance in the first film into account when formulating his character.
  • The movie will provide backstory on Pentecost’s backstory, his relationship with Jake and “how that all winds together”.
  • Michael B. Jordan was also considered for the role of Jake Pentecost. (Ultimately he was busy with Black Panther.)
  • Jake’s foil will be Amara (Spaeny), a scrappy 15-year-old girl who has a knack for building Jaegers and whose parents were killed in the war ten years ago. When the pair first meet, Amara has constructed her own Jaeger named Scrapper despite the fact that they’ve been phased out. She’s an American, what Boyter refers to as “a beach bum.”

    Image via Universal Picture

  • Crucially, Amara has figured out how to pilot her Jaeger on her own. “I don’t think she full understands how groundbreaking it is,” said Spaeny.
  • Spaeny watched the female protagonists in Alien and Star Wars for inspiration on her character.
  • Amara was initially conceived as a male character: “…Just looking at the script it felt like it lost something if this was a young guy saying the things that she says, and it’s that almost indefinable quality that was really hard to peg down but we just all agreed when we started talking about it that it lost a bit of its magic,”  said DeKnight.
  • Eastwood will play a character called Lambert, a cocksure Jaeger pilot.
  • Pacific Rim Uprising has been aged down significantly from the first movie: Jake and Amara lead the film as cadets known as Hopefuls, rather than the adult pilots that led the first film. The choice to age the cast down was made with younger audiences in mind. “We wanted to make this concept resonate for a larger group of people,” clarified Boyter.

    Image via Universal

  • As revealed in the early marketing campaign, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) will be back for the sequel, but there will be plenty of tension between she and Jake when she returns.
  • Boyter described the film as “a big mystery, a whodunnit… There’s a rogue Jaeger that unveils itself and there’s a big ambush. And there’s an attack – we think it’s an attack – we just see an unregistered Jaeger that’s just blasting the sh*t out of a city. We don’t know who’s doing it, and the whole movie is about figuring out who that is.”
  • Additionally, a key character will die, giving way to a big reveal and triggering a revenge plot. “It’s weird, we get weird,” Boyter confirmed.
  • The Kaijus – of course – are getting upgrades, but the team was tight-lipped on spilling details about what the new ones might specifically look like. However, it seems clear that they were not formulated in the same way that del Toro’s were. Where the original Kaijus were clear rifts on classic movie monsters, DeKnight said the team was more focused on creating “truly unique creatures.”
  • The Jaegers too, will be undergoing some changes, most notably in their interiors. The action inside of the Jaeger is going to be a lot more dynamic this time around: “They’re in the fight, they’re not so pent up. The idea is to take anything you see outside the robot is then reflected in a hologram situation, so when a missile comes at them you see it coming in. We wanted to create something a little bit more visual and fun for kids to grasp onto,” explained Boyter.

  • The look of the inside of the Jaegers will move from the Steampunk interiors of the original to something much more sleek and interactive.

    Image via Universal Pictures

  • Boyega was excited to talk to us about Jake’s new Jaeger Gypsy Avenger, which is a big change for the franchise. “She’s a beauty! They’re slicker. They’re faster. [They have] new moves. And what’s great about Jaegers, they all have like a ‘Why’ button, a special move that makes them significant and cool,” he gushed.
  • The drift won’t just be used to connect Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim Uprising, it will also be used to deliver information to the audience, particularly to reveal information about Mako and Jake’s relationship with Stacker. “It’s a great device,” said Boyter.
  • China will play a big role in the plot, as a corporation attempts to pilot Jaegers by drone rather than with humans.
  • We’ll also see more Mandarin in the film. “It’s a fun dynamic between Jing Tian and Charlie Day where he’s trying to learn Mandarin and he’s really bad at it,” laughed Boyter.
  • The tone will be very different from the first film, which adopted a ’60s/’70s monster movie vibe. “It’s more grounded,” clarified Boyter. “There’s definitely comedy and fun, but it’s coming more out of the situation. It’s not like we’re telling jokes. We have characters like Charlie Day who are naturally funny, and people like Boyega… The tone of it is actually closer to a Marvel movie than something like what Guillermo did.”

    Image via Legendary

  • The action in the film will be captured differently, too. “When you first saw Bourne, and you saw how Dan Bradley was capturing that action, like… it’s ugly. And this, very similar. Obviously it’s not as crazy as Bourne, but there’s a visceral quality, there’s a rawness,” Boyter said.
  • Boyter promises the film will up the ante on the action surprises this time around: “The action takes advantage of its environment. That becomes a character and helps evolve what’s happening. And sometimes that surprises you. The Jaegers are doing shit that you’re like, ‘How?’ We have fifty of those moments.”
  • The film, which will be converted to 3D and relies on CG to create the Jaeger effects, won’t exactly be littered with practical effects. “There’s not a ton to be honest with you,” Boyter conceded.

Pacific Rim Uprising hits theaters March 23, 2018. For more from our set visit, check out the links below.

Image via Legendary

Image via Legendary

Image via Legendary

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