Pacific Rim was over-the-top awesomeness. From an original-yet-familiar plot to stupendous visual effects, the film blew me away.
The trailers don't show even half of the film. They sell the film and the setting without having to give away the plot, the twists, or the characters' motivations. You enter the theater with anticipation, hoping that the film will be more than just giant robots fighting giant monsters.
What do you get? Giant robots fighting giant monsters, plus believable characters, masterful world-building, brilliant special effects, and some of the most jaw-dropping onscreen fights that I've seen in a long time.
What's more, the film managed not to break my suspension of disbelief. The freefall scene in Star Trek Into Darkness had me wondering what antiquated geocentric version of physics the directors were subscribing to when they decided that a ship orbiting the moon would tumble to Earth in mere minutes. The fights in Man of Steel were utterly ridiculous. Demigods duking it out while flying at high speeds through skyscrapers lack any sort of impact when all you get is shattering buildings and explosions.
Pacific Rim has even more destruction, more mayhem, more mind-numbingly destructive fights and yet pulls it off in a fashion that left me wanting even more. It wasn't destruction for destruction's sake like in Man of Steel - Pacific Rim's destruction was carefully splashed across Hong Kong to drive home the power of the kaiju, and combined with some exposition by the resident mad scientists to reveal just how dangerous the threat facing humanity is.
But it's not destruction for destruction's sake. There's just enough character development to make this film not be just about the fights. It's about defying overpowering odds. It's about survivor's guilt and standing up to idiocy, about arrogance and pride and self-sacrifice, everything that sets humans apart from alien monsters from the ocean deeps.
There are many quotes that describe this film, but there are two that do it best. The first comes from the director, Guillermo del Toro:
It is my duty to commit to film the finest fucking monsters ever committed to screen and it is my duty to create the greatest fucking robots ever committed to screen.
The robots draw from many sources but explicitly reference none. The monsters are similar to many in the decades of post-WWII monster films, but copy none. Does del Toro's quest to make the best succeed? Kaiju biologist and mad scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler describes the mechanical fighters as
Two thousand, five hundred tons of awesome.