This is probably the most impressively produced fan film I've ever seen.
John Boyega stars in a film he helped make, because he saw the first one and went "I want to be in that." And so we get the story of Jake Pentecost: "He's a really good pilot, but he's got a troubled past, so now he's a cool smuggler. Also Idris Elba is his dad. OC, do not steal!"
Pentecost is dragged back into the Jaeger training programme after a run-in with Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), orphaned by an early Kaiju attack, who decides to build her own tiny Jaeger. That's definitely something a teenager can do. At the same time, the Jaeger programme is being replaced by a drone system, leaving all of the pilots possibly out of a job. Until a rogue Jaeger turns up.
Most important point first. Do you want to watch giant robots punching other giant robots, and possibly monsters? Then this is absolutely the film for you. It is silly, and it knows it. You're watching this for the spectacle, and it has that in spades.
The fight scenes are fluid, with the occasional slapstick tweak (helipad to the face!), and this has got some of the best weapon noises I've heard in a while. (Also, I'm pretty sure Boyega must have wandered into the Star Wars sound effects booth for a little while, and sneaked off with a CD of R2D2 noises for use in this film.)
Also, do you want massive swords? We've got those. But now, they're also on fire.
The plotting is mostly tight, though there's a bit of a tone change halfway through the film, that feels a little like it was done as China-pandering. That's happening increasingly, and I understand the need to appeal to a market, but sometimes it feels clumsy. (Jing Tian always had to be the most fashionable person in the room.) There's also a very nice bit of re-building that happens at the two-thirds mark that sets up the climax rather cleverly.
Nice characterisation all around, and the spunky sidekick managed to avoid being too annoying, which is always a fine line to walk. Boyega and Eastwood work well together, though Eastwood always felt like the lesser partner of the two. Boyega has fun with keeping it comical, such that there's less of the dramatic moments the first film did rather well.
And the return of Charlie Day and Burn Gorman was lovely, as they have the same mad tension, trying to solve the mysteries of the day.
Not quite up to the standards of the first one, but that did have the benefit of being somewhat novel at the time. Still, enjoyed the first one? Go watch this.