Pacific Rim ★★

Bigger and louder than pretty much anything ever, Pacific Rim's greatest achievement is to not lose itself in Transformers-esque confusion thanks to some savvy shot choices and refreshingly comprehensible editing. The concept is genius and the execution remarkable, but unless you've never seen a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster in which mankind faces annihilation from an outside force, the whole exercise reeks of over-familiar cheese.

Age-old tropes (heroes learning to face the threat that took a loved one; bitter rivals begrudgingly coming to respect each other; fist-bitingly annoying comedy scientists; motivational speeches from charismatic leaders) are recycled with more advanced VFX but lesser actors, the dialogue is monstrously bad and the entire plot is lifted directly from Independence Day, which looks like an exercise in subtlety and restraint in comparison. There's the gnawing sense that all this is some kind of deliberate in-joke, but if it is, it's not a very good one.

Most egregiously, though, Pacific Rim is just boring. Giant robots punching giant monsters is great the first time you see it, but considerably less novel after four or five near-interminable bouts. It's also visually monotonous: each indoor scene feels like it takes place in the same room, while every outdoor battle between the machines (virtually indistinguishable from each other in the melee) and the generic, forgettable leviathans happens at night. And the groaningly predictable script holds fewer surprises than a cup of tea.

High in concept but low in originality, Pacific Rim has a couple of fun moments but is ultimately less than the sum of its parts. And when Idris Elba is a less convincing military leader than Bill Pullman, something, somewhere, has gone very wrong.