I don't usually like movies that go for spectacle over substance, but I'll make an exception for “Pacific Rim.” Despite the banality of its storyline, I found myself enjoying the action. “Pacific Rim” gets credit for delivering what it promises: giant robots battling giant monsters.
The plot, such as it is, involves a near-future earth in which an inter-dimensional portal has opened up in the ocean floor, letting massive, nightmare beasts into our world. These beasts, called Kaiju in Japanese (think Godzilla), trash a few coastal cities before people decide that the best way to fight them is not heavy artillery or tactical nukes, but giant Rock'EmSock'Em Robots. Driven by humans, these robots dispatch the monsters partly with special weapons, but mostly using good, old-fashioned fisticuffs. As stupid as it sounds, it's hella-fun to watch.
It's shocking that they didn't get Michael Bay to direct this. I suppose there was hope that Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy” “Pan's Labyrinth”) would class this thing up, maybe add some intangible element that would make it more than just an action movie. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite some decent supporting actors (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as wacky scientists, and Ron Perlman as a shady gangster), every scene that doesn't contains giant robots or monsters basically sucks. There's even a predictable yet unbelievable and completely unnecessary love story involving the sole female character in the movie. Del Toro should be ashamed of himself.
Despite these failings, “Pacific Rim” gets kudos for visual effects. The robots and especially the monsters look really cool duking it out. Kaiju movies like the Godzilla films have traditionally looked pretty cheesy, but the beasts in this film look as bizarre and beautifully horrifying as you could want. If you want to see giant robots fighting giant monsters, this is the movie for you.
2.5 stars out of 5