I was lucky enough to attend the Pacific Rim: Uprising NYCC panel at Madison Square Garden (and sat in the first row ayyy~~) and took a bunch of notes lol. The panel included the director Steven S. DeKnight, and a few members of the main cast including John Boyega, Cailee Spaeny, Scott Eastwood, and Burn Gorman. Here’s my recap:
General Worldbuilding Tidbits
Pacific Rim: Uprising is set 10 years in the future after the last film. DeKnight said that they wanted to show a “new generation of Jaeger pilots who have known nothing but chaos.”
Previous characters slated to return, as seen by the trailer, include Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), and Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day).
The new main “trio” seems to consists of the main lead, Jake Pentecost, and the late son of Stacker Pentecost (John Boyega), Jake’s best friend and Jaeger pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), and tech-savvy Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny).
10 years later, the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) has come together to work as an international fighting force, with all of humanity working together - i.e. Jaegers are no longer coded by specific country, like the Russian Jaegers, Australian Jaegers, etc.
This also allowed the opportunity to build Jaegers from the ground up, since they were all previously destroyed in the first film. It was jokingly claimed, “we cancelled the apocalypse and then un-cancelled it to make this movie.”
DeKnight discussed how Del Toro originally set the table with Pacific Rim as a “fantastic visual feast,” so the goal with the sequel was to honor the original, but also expand the universe at the same time.
John Boyega claimed that they weren’t trying to “rewrite what Guillermo Del Toro did, but rather to build upon and expand this universe, and where the humans are at now.”
Boyega also talked about how he came onto work behind-the-scenes creatively on the film as a producer. He described Pacific Rim as one of the only franchises he’s come across where the fans are hopeful and “sacred science fiction ground."
Going in, Boyega felt like he had the same creative passion as DeKnight. When they met in LA for the first time, they went over the specific Jaegers and basically what Boyega wanted to see after Pacific Rim. He claimed that "I believe this is everything you want Pacific Rim to be."
One of the goals of Pacific Rim: Uprising is to explain exactly what happened 10 years after the first film, but not necessarily be a complete detachment to the origin story. It was highlighted that there are a lot of young teenage characters in the cast and hopefully that’ll be something that new viewers can relate to.
According to DeKnight, one of the overarching themes of Pacific Rim is: "It doesn’t matter who your parents are, the color of your skin, your religion, or sexual orientation, you can make a difference and be a hero. It’s the human inside the Jaegers that makes you super."
Pacific Rim: Uprising was filmed both in Australia and China. The cast pretty much agreed that as a director, DeKnight runs a "relaxed” and “creative” set - it was a tough schedule, but the actors all felt that they could still have creative input.
DeKnight called them all “badass,” with Gipysy Avenger leading the charge.
Gipsy Avenger: Has a lot of upgrades, including a Gravity Sling which allows the Jaeger to reach out and grab buildings, cars, etc. and hurl them directly at the Kaiju.
Bracer Phoenix: This is the brute force Jaeger. One of its special abilities, above many, is the fact that it’s a three-pilot machine. Therefore, the third pilot can drop into the chamber and operate a pair of massive guns called the Vortex Cannon.
Saber Athena: This is the most advanced Jaeger in the fleet that uses Plasma swords. Also described as a “little experimental,” and “incredibly swift.”
Titan Redeemer: Has a special weapon called the “ball of death,” which is attached to the end of his arm. According to DeKnight, this was “pretty damn cool."
Guardian Bravo: Is another brute force Jaeger that has a special weapon called the "graphine arc whip."
Scrapper:Described as a "little guy,” that’s been slapped together. Since in the future, there are a lot of people pilfering and stealing PPCD technology to make their own Jaegers.
During the Q&A, an audience member asked if all the new Jeagers run on analog. DeKnight claimed one Jaeger is built on sticks (lmao), but the general idea is that no EM-powered Kaijus will be able to take down the Jaegers in this film.
Jake Pentecost (John Boyega)
Boyega stated that he “loved the first movie and one of the reasons was Idris Elba.” So, he understood the big shoes that he had to fill. Boyega claimed he understood this responsibility, but "we [the cast] all worked as a unit, and Jake Pentecost doesn’t exist without the other characters. This is also a great ensemble piece.“
When the moderator asked if Jake is trying to live up to Sacker’s legacy, Boyega jokingly claimed: "Hell no!” He went to explain that “the greatest heroes don’t accept legendary status. It takes a tussle and a turn and for Jake’s position. Where we find Jake in the beginning of the film is in very different circumstances from his Dad.”
Boyega described Jake as a “stealer, a hustler, and lives in half a mansion. He’s really a guy that doesn’t want to live up to the Pentecost name.”
Jake is bought back into the PPCD in a very unique way through his connection to Cailee Spaeny’s character Amara. So, Jake is bought into this adventure and decides that he’s gotta “step up,” after realizing that the “Pentecost name still means something to people."
During the Q&A, an audience member asked Boyega what’s the most rewarding part of being a sci-fi icon. He claimed that he doesn’t feel like one, but working on both Pacific: Rim Uprising has been exciting, since it’s allowed him to jump into various elements of sci-fi that he loved growing up.
Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood)
Eastwood described him as a Jaeger pilot who’s one of the best out there. Yet, he’s still "the tip of the spear,” and really nothing without his best friend Jake.
Jake and Nate still have issues in this movie to work out from the past, so Eastwood felt that coming back around and dealing with a lost time with these characters was something cool to explore as an actor.
Eastwood also emphasized that while yes, there is plenty of action in the film, it “has a great story first and foremost.”
Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny)
This was Spaeny’s first film that she was ever cast for. So, she was definitely intimidated and a bit terrified, but knew that fans were so supportive of the first film.
Spaeny didn’t actually watch Pacific Rim until she got the audition for the sequel, and really took it upon herself to dive into the universe in order to understand and respect the original film.
In terms of Spaeny’s film experience, there was also diving into tons of stunts and action and lots of skills that she to catch onto , since she was participating in a whole world that’s already been created.
But Spaeny felt that both DeKnight and the cast were very supportive and helpful, whenever she had questions, so it was really easy for her to dive into Cailee’s character. She also bonded with DeKnight since this was the first feature-length, theatrical film that he ever directed.
Spaeny described Amara as very “independent,” and super “badass.” She’s also a tech-savvy person.
For Amara’s backstory, her entire family was killed in the first wave of Kaiju attacks. So, Amara really “takes it upon herself to dive into Jaeger tech and make sure that when Kaiju do come back, she’ll be ready to fight and protect herself."
While Amara’s past is very different from Jake’s, Spaeny claimed that both of them still see a lot of things in similar ways.
Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman)
Gorman said he was very excited to be back in the sequel, which felt like "being back in the playground.” He also joked, "I’ve been lucky enough with this face that God gave me to play a few jerks on screen,” when an audience member briefly highlighted his past roles on Torchwood, Revenge, Game of Thrones, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Gottlieb still has problems with personal hygiene. Gorman claimed, “let’s just say that he hasn’t changed his socks since the last film."
In comparison to Charlie Day’s character (Dr. Newt Geiszler) who has moved onto the private sector, Gottlieb chose to stay behind with the PPCD and arguably their most important scientist at the highest level at this point. So, Gorman joked that Gottlieb now, in effect, has a "really great budget,” to work with now.
However, DeKnight makes it clear that where we find Gottlieb is: “as a man still very much affected in what happened in the previous film in terms of his drift and communication with the Kaiju.
There was a brief Q&A and the last question really stuck out to me, where an audience member asked each cast member to sum up their Pacific: Rim Uprising experience in one word:
I literally almost scream every single time the Atomic Blonde trailer/commercial comes on screen bc I’m so excited for the movie, but then I remember that I have to hold it in otherwise my family will notice it… and it’s a pretty gay movie, so like I don’t wanna out myself ya feel
The trailer — screened exclusively for attendees and not simultaneously released online — begins with The Guardians of the Galaxy on their ship, floating through a creepy section of space. Star-Lord tells his crew to put on their “mean faces” because things could get dangerous.Suddenly, a body hits their spaceship. It’s an unconscious Thor (Hemsworth), wearing his gladiator garb for Thor: Ragnarok (smart money is on the end of November’s Ragnarok leading directly into 2018’s Infinity War). They bring him inside the ship, and Mantis (Klementieff) wakes him up.
Thor looks around, sees Star-Lord (Pratt) and asks the natural question: “Who the hell are you guys?”
Next we are on Earth, where our heroes are dealing with death and destruction. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has the Tesseract (the Infinity Stone he played around with in Avengers), and he’s up to no good. In New York, Peter Parker is on a school bus and sees his armhair is rising (Spider-sense?)
— Spider-Man has a new suit, that looks quite advanced, ala the one at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming or from the Spider-Man 2099 comics.
— Captain America has a beard and looks like he’s been through a lot. It’s clear he’s been off doing something away from Iron Man’s Avengers and this is their first time seeing him.
— Thanos wears the Infinity Gauntlet, and pulls down part of a moon to battle the Avengers on an alien planet.
— Doctor Strange battles alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man on this planet
SEVENTEEN'S COMEBACK IS SO CLOSE! I was wondering if you had any theories? I read a YouTube comment that said the trailers could represent each member's fear... What do you think their fears are?
S.Coups: His fear is losing direction. Seungcheol is seen running around the city, but he just keeps going around in circles, as proven when he’s seen passing by the same 17 sign over and over. As the leader of Seventeen, the members are depending on him to lead the way. He fears leading them in the wrong direction—failure—rather than the one they’re all hoping for—success.
Jeonghan: His fear is forgetting. In the trailer, Jeonghan is seen taking pictures with his object, a camera. Pictures are usually linked to memories, and people take pictures to remember precious moments. He’s afraid of forgetting all these moments spent with the other members. He takes pictures so that he can always look back at them and remember.
Joshua: His fear is people walking away from him. In the water, two people’s silhouettes can be seen, but one walks away, leaving the other all alone. Jisoo splashes water on his face to try to “wash away” his worries, but his worries can’t disappear so easily, and he knows that.
Jun: His fear is keeping his feelings inside, unable to express them. Junhui is seen holding letters, but they’re all from the sender and it’s unknown if he answered any of them. He’s afraid of keeping things bottled up inside, or that he will never be able to give an answer to questions he should be able to answer.
Hoshi: His fear is being unable to reach those he loves. It could be being so busy that he can’t find time to contact his family, or even fearing that he’s unable to express his thankfulness to us Carats. In his trailer, we see him pick up the phone, only to find out that there’s no one on the other side. Then he calls the number on the piece of paper he has with him, waiting for someone to answer. We don’t know if he was able to reach them.
Wonwoo: His fear is being unable to finish what he started, fear that he’s going to be interrupted. Wonwoo is seen flipping through channels, but each show is interrupted by static. He’s afraid that something might go wrong and ruin what they’ve all worked so hard for. The static is usually interpreted as disconnection, so he fears that a misunderstanding might happen between them all, resulting in separation. In the end of his trailer, we see the screen all clear again, which could mean that things would have to be cleared up so that everything can work again.
Woozi: His fear is being unable to find the answer no matter how hard he tries. Jihoon is a hard worker who puts his all into his work. As Seventeen’s song writer/producer, the members are all counting on him to create songs that would appeal to the public and their fandom. He fears that one day, he won’t be able to get the results he’s hoping for.
DK: His fear is feeling like he will never be good enough. In the trailer, Seokmin is seen running, but every time he checks his stopwatch, his time remains the exact same. This could represent how he feels that no matter how much he practices, he will never feel satisfied with his results. He feels like that’s the best he can do, and he will never get better.
Mingyu: His fear is falling behind. While his trailer can be interpreted as him feeling like he’s missing something, I think it goes much deeper than that. In the trailer, Mingyu looks up to see two clocks; one is pointing at 2:00, while the other is at 2:01. This is a very subtle detail, but it could possibly mean that he’s afraid of falling behind. No matter how hard you try to synchronize clocks, one is always slightly ahead of the other. Mingyu fears that the other members will show improvement except for him. The mirror could represent him fearing that his visual is all he’ll ever be known for, and not as a rapper or hard-working member of the group.
The8: His fear is the unpredictable. A Magic 8-Ball rolls out of the bag of groceries, and while this object is mostly linked to fortune-telling, it can also represent unpredictability as the user never knows what answer they will get. Minghao is afraid of what the future holds because he’s unsure if it’s a good one or a bad one.
Seungkwan: His fear is being trapped in something that feels never-ending, and impatience will be his downfall. In the trailer, Seungkwan is seen waiting for his laundry, but as it takes too much time, he gives up on waiting and dumps what he owes on one of the machines. His wash cycle would eventually come to an end, but he won’t be there to see it. He fears giving up too easily because of the thought of wanting quick, positive results. He’s afraid of getting himself into something so difficult that he doesn’t want to continue it, not knowing just how close success is.
Vernon: His fear is not knowing where he’s going, not having a specific goal in mind. Hansol is seen walking around an open field, looking in every direction, hoping it would help him find a way out. He fears feeling lost and completely hopeless, unable to find his way and decide which path to take on his own.
Dino: His fear is being unable to advance. In the trailer, Chan rolls his dice over and over, but no matter what, the sum is always the same. This number leads him right back to square one. He’s afraid of not being able to change his course, and that he’ll forever remain in the same place.