NEW YORK — Just when you thought it was safe to take a peaceful stroll through downtown, Godzilla’s mechanical distant cousins return with a vengeance in “Pacific Rim Uprising” (Universal), a noisy, violent, and utterly ridiculous sci-fi adventure.
Even though the “Kaiju” monsters of mass destruction from another dimension were vanquished at the end of 2013’s “Pacific Rim,” Hollywood decided a sequel was in order. And so a new team of hot-shot robot pilots is recruited to counter bigger (of course) and more menacing (naturally) behemoths intent on world domination and human extermination.
That means, in the spirit of those cheesy “Godzilla” movies of yore, lots of toppling skyscrapers and legions of terrified citizens running for their lives.
“Pacific Rim Uprising” opens in the year 2035, a decade after the last film. The world is at peace, at least for the first five minutes. The initial threat is not from the Kaiju, who are hibernating beneath the Pacific Ocean. Instead, a sinister multinational corporation has harvested alien brain tissue to power a new generation of seemingly invincible mechanized soldiers.
The evil genius behind this nefarious plot is Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), a hero of the first outing who has turned to the dark side — and is having virtual sexual relations with a captive Kaiju (don’t ask).
It’s time to bring the so-called Jaeger robots out of retirement. These towering machines are controlled by human pilots of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. Think “Iron Man” but on steroids.
John Boyega, on loan from the “Star Wars” series, plays Jake Pentecost, whose soldier father, Stacker (Idris Elba), ran the Jaeger corps (and died heroically in the original). Jake became a skilled pilot, but inexplicably dropped out for a life of crime.
With a new apocalypse looming, Jake is given a chance to redeem himself and honor his father’s legacy. He agrees to train a group of teenage cadets alongside his arch-rival, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood).
The very green trainees include Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a gifted 15-year-old who also proves very handy with a wrench.
Steven S. DeKnight takes over the directing reins from Guillermo del Toro (Oscar winner for “The Shape of Water”), and thus has very big shoes to fill. As scripted by DeKnight — in collaboration with Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin — “Pacific Rim Uprising” sacrifices plot and subtlety for relentless and repetitive (but gore-free) action, laying waste to much of Tokyo in the process.
Somewhere, Godzilla is smiling nostalgically.
The film contains intense but bloodless violence, brief sexual banter, occasional profane and crude language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.