In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Pacific Rim Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil) regrets how Mako Mori's (Rinko Kikuchi) arc was handled in the film. The shocking death of her character, a fan favorite from Guillermo del Toro's original, angered many fans. It proved to be yet another example of a female character being killed to give a male character emotional motivation.
Pacific Rim Uprising was originally going to be directed by del Toro and included the stars of the original film Charlie Hunnam and Kikuchi. However, del Toro left the project to make his Oscar winning Shape of Water and Hunnam to work on a remake of the Steve McQueen classic Papillon. Subsequently, the script had to be changed, introducing a number of new characters to the franchise including John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, son of apocalypse-canceling Stacker (Idris Elba) from the original and scrappy newcomer Caliee Spaeny as Amara.
Speaking with Screen Rant, DeKnight addressed some of the changes he would make to Uprising. The director has been very vocal about the portrayal of Mako in Pacific Rim Uprising on social media. Many of his tweets have been about the process of making a massive blockbuster such as Pacific Rim Uprising and how often directors do not have final creative control.
There’s a thousand things I would change, large and small. There are things in the movie that will always bother me that no one will ever notice. And then there are things, like giving Mako’s death more weight, that I think people do notice.
DeKnight also revealed that the helicopter crash was always apart of the film, even when the script still included Hunnam. He explained that over time, the more emotional scenes depicting Mako's funeral were cut as well as a scene between Jake and Amara talking about Mako.
The thing that really changed, and I have to admit I don’t think for the better, was the connective support around that event slowly got chipped away for various reasons – mostly budget and time. Where the events itself, because the movie now moves so fast, is a bit of a blip and doesn’t land as fully as I would have liked. There were other scenes, some of them we never shot, some of them we shot and cut...For me it was a great regret because I loved that character. I loved Rinko [Kikuchi] and I don’t think, ultimately, her death had the weight that it deserved, through various creative decisions, some my own, some outside my control.
If DeKnight is involved in a potential Pacific Rim 3, perhaps he can work on rectifying some of his mistakes. In a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots, bringing someone back from the dead shouldn't be completely out of the question. Or maybe he could at least include a flashback to the funeral, giving Mako the sendoff she so rightly deserves.
Pacific Rim Uprising is now available on digital, and will arrive on 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on June 19.