With a name like Jake Pentecost, it’s fitting that John Boyega’s character in Pacific Rim Uprising has a backstory that’s practically biblical.
He is the estranged son of Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba’s character from the 2013 original, and although his father is no longer around, Jake has come home to take up the old man’s cause – kicking monster ass with giant robots.
These machines, known as Jaegers, successfully beat back an invasion of behemoth Kaiju fiends in the first movie, but a decade later the world is still a bruised and battered place. And the creatures are making a comeback.
“Jake is the prodigal son,” Boyega tells EW. “He is a young guy who was on the cusp of greatness in his early days when he was training to be a Jaeger pilot, but he always had a troubled relationship with Stacker. I’m the son he didn’t really talk about in the first film … the product of Stacker’s first love.”
Father and son fell out, he says, “because of Stacker’s attention and hope and faith in Mako rather than him.” Mako is the Jaeger meister who helped save the world last time, played by Rinko Kikuchi, who returns for the sequel – unlike previous costar Charlie Hunnam.
This time, Mako is Jake’s protector, despite their awkward history. “He felt he never lived up to his father’s expectations and so he decided to leave the Jaeger program and start stealing for a living,” Boyega says.
Jake thrives as a black market retailer. The monster attacks from the sea have driven the wealthy inland. Middle America is now prime real estate, while the poor populate the coasts, where they could be the first to face an assault.
“When we meet him, he is living in an abandoned mansion in Santa Monica, which is half a mansion anyway because there’s a big Kaiju claw-swipe that has crushed part of it,” Boyega says. “He sells and buys stolen goods, and some of that includes Jaeger parts.”
The masses of poor huddled on the coasts have decided to start building their own giant machines. If there’s going to be a fight, they’re going to make sure they’re ready for it. That brings him into contact with newcomer Cailee Spaeny’s amateur Jaeger pilot, Amara, who is building one of her own battle-bots.
When the two of them break one too many laws and Mako can’t protect them anymore, they’re given a choice. Actually, not much of a choice. “The only thing he can do to compensate for his crimes is join the Jaeger program and teach the kids what he learned,” Boyega says.
That reunites him with his old friend Lambert (played by Scott Eastwood), who will mind-meld with him to co-pilot on the state-of-the-art new Jaeger known as Gipsy Avenger. You can see them both below, bracing for battle.
“They were brothers,” Boyega says, but that bond broke when Jake ran away. “Being in each other’s heads in The Drift, they know each other’s thoughts, so they have great moments of hashing out what happened in the past.”
While they’re sorting out their grudge, it’s also going to be a monster mash.
“The Kaiju have found a new way,” Boyega says. “They are way more intelligent than we thought they were. The monsters you saw in the first movie were the test run, to see how the planet would hold up. The breach we thought was closed is not their only way into our world. Their plans are more specific. Jake leads the team in trying to build up a new defense against that.”
That means new mechs:
Gipsy Avenger (center, foreground): “She’s an upgrade model form Gipsy Danger in the first movie,” Boyega says.
“She is still a two-man Jaeger and has new weapons and technology. The new Gipsy has LCD screens and holographic imagery of what is going outside. Her gravity sling has improved,” he adds. “Pilots are no longer locked into robot by feet. It has a scanning system that makes the drift easier to handle. Gipsy Avenger is strongest and hardest to operate.”
Saber Athena (far left, in orange): “She’s the fastest Jaeger, and she is agile and assigned two skillful pilots who know how to do martial arts,” Boyega says. “She has two swords she can join together to slice stuff down. She’s flexible and very fast.”
Guardian Bravo (far right) in red: “She has big electric whips, but is very stocky and strong,” Boyega says.
Titan Redeemer* (above): “She is a mystery rogue Jaeger, but is really strong and advanced,” Boyega says. “She has guns on the chest. That Jaeger is, in fact, a three-man rig — one is in the cockpit shooting missiles and bullets from the chest.”
Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins take EW through the sci-fi sequel’s stunning landscapes
Blade New World
Prepare your eyeballs for the visual spectacular that is Blade Runner 2049. In the hands of director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger A. Deakins, nearly every frame of this much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi original — which resumes the story of bounty hunters called blade runners who “retire” factory-made replicants — dazzles. It’s the third collaboration between Villeneuve and Deakins (after 2013’s Prisoners and 2015’s Sicario), and their artistic visions align perfectly. “It started on Prisoners—we just see things the same way. Maybe we just have the same dark, cynical view of the world,” Deakins says with a laugh. “We did seem to really be in sync.”
Shooting in Budapest last year, the cast — which includes Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford reprising the role of Rick Deckard, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, and Jared Leto — was aided by immense practical sets courtesy of production designer Dennis Gassner. “Roger and Denis were never hindered by the scale of the imaginary world because most of it wasn’t imaginary at all,” says Gosling, who plays a younger blade runner named K who discovers a secret tied to the first film. “As an actor you can focus on the internal landscape of the character because the external landscape of the world has been so fully realized and is so rich.” For Villeneuve it was important that his film hewed true to the spirit of Scott’s original, which so influenced him as a young man growing up in Quebec. “In the past when I’ve made movies I’ve used references from other artists — painters and graphic novels or even music,” the director says. “But for this movie there was always an elephant in the room, one I didn’t try to escape: There’s this movie called Blade Runner. That was my main reference, and I embraced it. This film is a love letter to Blade Runner.”
For this scene, which takes place outside Los Angeles, Deakins was inspired by a memory of Australia after a dust storm. “I remember seeing the Sydney Opera House bathed in this red dust,” he says. It was Villeneuve who suggested the gigantic erotic statue. “To my great happiness, Roger and the producers loved it,” he says. “They said it was an idea that could only be born in the mind of a French director.”
Whiter Shade of Pale
“I wanted to approach the movie keeping elements of film noir and darkness that were in Los Angeles,” Villeneuve says, but he decided the scenes outside the city, like this one, would have a cooler palette. “The sunlight would peek through the smog and dust and have a wintery kind of silvery light. It was an important way to bring this universe close to me. As a Canadian I cannot brag about a lot of things. But winter?” he laughs. “That I can do.”
This moment in the film was one that Villeneuve and Deakins storyboarded not knowing that executive producer Ridley Scott had scribbled a drawing that turned out to match their vision almost identically. “When I saw the sketch I thought, ‘Oh, fantastic. I’m going in the right direction,'” Villeneuve says. A gigantic 40′ × 30’ LED screen played images across from Gosling to simulate the right light and color of the neon hologram. And yet Deakins still wanted to supersize it: “Denis and I were always frustrated that it didn’t feel big enough.”
One for the Road
“I like those references to a world that has disappeared,” Deakins says of the sequence where Gosling’s character finds himself in a dead city filled with relics from another era, including a hologram jukebox that plays Frank Sinatra. “There’s just something sort of odd and a throwback to the past.” Adds Villeneuve: “The word dream is so important. It’s a movie about dreams and broken dreams. It’s important to have that kind of presence in the film.”
Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), a blind trillionaire, lives in a golden-hued lair. “It has no windows and is designed like a pyramid, one designed to resist through the times,” says Villeneuve. Deakins says that they liked the irony of a character without sight living in a world of constantly moving sunlight. “It’s all very weirdly surreal,” says Deakins. Another irony? Leto stayed in eye-obscuring contacts throughout production so couldn’t appreciate his surroundings. “He never saw it,” says Deakins. “It’s a shame.”
In this, one of the opening shots of the film, K’s car hovers over the metallic concentric circles of solar farms struggling from lack of sunlight. “I was looking for an image to start the film with that silver light right from the start,” says Villeneuve. Deakins says they looked at images online and found solar farms outside of Los Angeles and in Spain. “It looks like an eye and reflects the opening shot of both this film and the original,” says Deakins. Special credit should be given to the aerial director of photography, Dylan Goss, who had to constantly take photographs through clouds. “He didn’t shoot a single plate in sunlight, bless him,” says Deakins.
Warner Bros. (3)
The team rolls out in new character one-sheets
A common criticism of the DC live-action films is the color. Some reviewers called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice “a dark-palette feast for the eyes” and a YouTube user even offered a color-corrected version of Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder’s first attempt at a Superman story. With the new Justice League posters, our heroes can see clearly now, the rain is gone. Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) are ready to roll out to defend Earth against an alien threat when Justice League hits theaters on Nov. 17. Scroll through to see the new posters.
Batman (Ben Affleck)Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)Aquaman (Jason Momoa)The Flash (Ezra Miller)Cyborg (Ray Fisher)
Yondu (Michael Rooker), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora (Zoey Saldana), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)Gamora (Zoe Saldana)
Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper)Taserface (Chris Sullivan)Ego (Kurt Russell)Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki)Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista)Director James Gunn and Yondu (Michael Rooker)
The latest trailer for James Gunn’s superhero sequel (out May 5) features an expanded lineup of Guardians, Elizabeth Debicki’s golden-skinned alien, and Fleetwood Mac’s rock classic “The Chain.” Also? Snake freakin’ Plissken!
The big question before the debut of the new Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer was, Would it feature Kurt Russell? Spoiler alert: it does! But the clip makes us wait for our first proper look at the Escape From New York legend, who is playing father Star-Lord has never met, a.k.a. Ego the Living Planet. We’re not really complaining about the opening, however, which features some nice badinage between Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill and Zoe Saldana’s massive gun-carrying Gamora (“Is that a rifle?” “You don’t know what a rifle looks like?”)
Why does Gamora need such an outsized weapon? It’s likely connected to the team’s new career as galactic mercenaries and to the arrival of an enormous, tentacled creature. Fortunately, Dave Bautista’s knives-equipped alien Drax seems happy to take on the sucker, which Gunn revealed last year to be a multi-dimensional being known as an “Abilisk.”
What the world needs now is… An adorable Baby Groot sorting out the sound system and prompting Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” to start playing on the soundtrack.
Mind you, Rocket does have his problems. Like what? Like, being surrounded in a dark wood by Michael Rooker’s blue-skinned Yondu and his Ravager goons.“Groot, put your seatbelt on!” ‘Nuff said.“So we’re saving the galaxy again?” asks Star-Lord in voiceover. Hey, it’s not called Non-Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, buddy — and, also, yes. Which is music to Rocket’s ears. “We’re really going to be able to jack up our prices if we’re two-time galaxy-savers!” says the rascal.The next, highly action-packed, series of shots briefly highlights the team’s members and would seem to confirm that Yondu, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, and Pom Klementieff’s new character Mantis all become Guardians during the course of the film. It’s the HR department I feel sorry for.“Sometimes,” says Star-Lord, as we see Drax and Gamora entranced by mysterious floating spheres, “the thing you’re searching for your whole life, it’s right there by your side all along.” Cue Drax, who actually is right there by Quill’s side, scaring the crap out of him.“All you do is yell at each other! You’re not friends,” says Gamora. “No, we’re family,” replies Drax. (And how much did it burn the Groot-voicing Vin Diesel not to get to say that line?)Hey, who’s that cloaked guy in the distance? Could it be…?
…yes it is! Kurt Russell finally makes an appearance.
“After all these years, I’ve found you,” announces Ego.
“And who the Hell are you?” asks Star-Lord.
“I’m your dad, Peter,” comes the reply.
Is there a dry eye in the house? There isn’t in this writer’s abode, that’s for sure.
After 17 years as cinema’s most popular mutant, Hugh Jackman hangs up his claws forever in Logan.
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
It’s a dark point in the Star Wars timeline. As Rogue One begins, the Empire is at its most powerful and harmful, but there is unity and courage among the misfits rising against it. As part of EW’s roll-out for its new cover story on the Dec. 16 film, we present a gallery of new images — including some never-before-revealed characters and details of the worlds they inhabit.
Image Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm; Giles Keyte/Lucasfilm
The CW’s Superhero Crossover
The heroes of The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow will soon team up withSupergirl for a four-way crossover! Kicking off Nov. 28, the crossover finds the Super Friends battling the Dominators, a technologically advanced alien race hellbent on eliminating the threat of Earth’s metahumans. Will they succeed? Check out photos from the epic event.
Image Credit: Michael Courtney/The CW