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Guillermo Del Toro’s giant monster mash Pacific Rim is the little movie franchise that could, still trucking after unfavorable returns in the domestic box office a few years ago. But stronger international support gives the super-robot actioner a new lease on life with director Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim: Uprising. Let’s check out the trailer and hope this opportunity hasn’t been wasted.

When word came down that Del Toro would get another chance to pit titanic Jaegers against city-stomping Kaiju, his passionate fanbase let out a sigh of relief, quickly turning to caution as it was announced that the monster maestro would not be returning to the director’s chair for this project. Instead, we have DeKnight of TV’s Spartacus and Daredevil taking the reigns. Let’s ponder the results of this pursuit in the first official trailer.

Okay, real talk. That trailer wasn’t a slam dunk for me.

There are many elements from the first film that I can appreciate, namely the returning actors Burn Gorman and Charlie Day as the resident Nerd Squad still fighting the good fight after all this time. But where is Riko Kikuchi, female lead of the first film, who was reported as part of the cast yet is missing from the proceedings here.

Perhaps that would be less noticeable if the rest of the trailer was more inspiring. I can’t say I loved the song choice for this. The combination of sounds and imagery just didn’t really gel the way I’d hope. And the thought just won’t escape my dome that this is all just a little more cliche than it should be.

I wouldn’t put up much of a fight against those who wanted to say the first film was also riddled with cliches. But among them, Del Toro weaved a darker, more artistically fruitful depiction of a world ravaged by otherdimensional creatures. This bright, shiny universe we return to is not the one we left. Maybe that’s by design, and the Earth has moved on. I just will miss the moodier, more atmospheric tone if it’s not present in the sequel.

But those robots sure do look more marketable, don’t they?

Truth be told, I do like that the Jaegers seem more maneuverable and swift than in the original film. It’s one thing that I’ve never really cared for about giant robot depictions. No matter how realistic, if they move too slowly, my heart sinks a bit. This may be one area where Uprising has a (spinning) leg up on the first movie.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is in theaters March 23, 2018.