In Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim: Uprising, the plot is roughly the same as in the original: Fake-looking CGI monsters are on the loose and fake-looking, human-piloted CGI robots stand in their way.

Except for a pilot and former scrap-yard thief named Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the cast is breathtakingly charmless. The film's story lurches from clumsily choreographed battles to scenes in which characters spout lines like, "Don't let what other people think of you define who you are."

It's a far cry from the first film, which climaxed in a thunderous scene in which Idris Elba roared, "Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!"

The only thing at stake in the sequel, by contrast, is the Chinese box office. The original film was a success there, which may explain why Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight chose to include a pointless subplot about a heroic Chinese corporation.

Critic's rating: 1/4 stars.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is rated PG-13 and now playing at Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin Cinema & Pub, Tigard, Vancouver.