The hugely anticipated sequel Pacific Rim Uprising hits theaters on Friday. Now, the early reviews are in and the critics have a lot to say about the latest installment of the film franchise.

Lack Of Del Toro Magic

Visionary filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, who was behind the first movie Pacific Rim famously stepped aside for this next chapter in the series to focus on Oscar-winner The Shape of Water.

As a result, all eyes were on director Steven S. Knight alongside returning stars including Charlie Day, and new lead John Boyega (Star Wars) taking over from Idris Elba to carry the baton.

Although Del Toro remained close to the project as a creative consult, his absence is keenly felt on Uprising. CNET's Jennifer Bisset notes right off the bat that the flick suffers without him.

"Pacific Rim Uprising might become known as the movie Guillermo del Toro didn't direct," she wrote in her review.

Franchise Building Attempts

Variety's Nick Schager points to the movie's cynical attempt at building a franchise, something that he feels is wishful thinking based on this evidence.

"What resounds loudest about Pacific Rim Uprising is its lack of adventurousness ... [which highlights] the film's paint-by-numbers approach to franchise construction, replete with a formulaic promise of future installments that, on the basis of this entry, feels mostly like wishful thinking," he argued.

EW's Chris Nashawaty went even further, comparing the movie to the dreaded Transformers franchise.

"I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that Pacific Rim Uprising is drastically worse than the last two Transformers sequels. But the fact that it's even a contest certainly isn't a recommendation," he said.

THR's Frank Scheck had one positive thing to discuss the movie: its run-time.

"The sequel is an improvement on its predecessor in at least one respect: Its running time is twenty minutes shorter. Not that you feel it," he wrote.

Unashamed Of What It Is

Uproxx's Mike Ryan, however, was kinder, explaining that if fans go in turning their brains off and expecting the smash fest promised by the trailers, they won't be disappointed.

"Pacific Rim Uprising is a dumb movie that knows it's a dumb movie and just tries to show you a good time and doesn't needlessly bog us down with too much character development or exposition because it knows we don't really care. We just want to see robots punching monsters — and Pacific Rim Uprising has plenty of that," he wrote.

Pacific Rim Uprising is in theaters from Friday, March 23.