In the "What did you expect?" category, critics praise the movie, sometimes faintly, for doing what it set out to do.
While hardly a mature, intellectual or subtle affair, Pacific Rim is adolescent glee writ large. Guillermo Del Toro and his team promised monsters versus giant robots and boy howdy they delivered. It is one of the better dumbass sci-fi action movies to come down the pike in quite some time.... This is playtime and imagination drawn from a number of different sources and it is, when compared to its peer group, of extremely high caliber.
Everything you think is going to happen does. One character chokes at the moment of truth; noble warriors sacrifice for the cause. But del Toro shapes the movie so it's not just one booming attack after another: There's breathing space amid the action, and in a gorgeously choreographed sequence, old-fashioned hand-to-hand human-to-human combat becomes its own special effect.
In most ways, this paradoxically derivative yet imaginative sci-fi epic is everything every monster movie since the beginning of time might have wished it could be: In no way pinched budget-wise, it's got first-class special effects, crafty behemoths that calculate and react to circumstances in non-dumb ways, a smart director who injects a sense of fun and surprise whenever he can, a fair percentage of characters you don't mind watching and a few decent plot twists. In this genre, that's saying something.
Mike Ryan, Huffington Post
Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, a movie about giant robots that fight giant monsters, is a little over two hours of pure sugar. If you are in the mood to eat pure sugar, you will most likely enjoy Pacific Rim.
And then there are the out-and-out pans, which only make me cry a little.
Compared to some of the more leaden spectacles this summer, White House Down and the final hour of Man of Steel chief among them, Pacific Rim has the inventive, colorful textures of a fully realized world. But that's only enough to make it a slightly different kind of dumb from the usual messy blockbuster routine.
Of all the doom-laden fantasies the studios have rolled out this summer, Pacific Rim is the one pushing itself most aggressively as guilt-free entertainment, offering up an apocalyptic spectacle in a spirit of unpretentious, unapologetic fun. Which it will be, at least for those who measure fun primarily in terms of noise, chaos and bombast, or who can find continual novelty in the sight of giant monsters and robots doing battle for the better part of two hours. Viewers with less of an appetite for nonstop destruction should brace themselves for the squarest, clunkiest and certainly loudest movie of director Guillermo del Toro's career, a crushed-metal orgy that plays like an extended 3D episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on very expensive acid.
[I]n spite of its narrative richness and thoughtfulness, Pacific Rim lacks for poignancy. For all the attention paid to how soldiers puppet the jaegers in ostensibly empathetic lockstep, del Toro only skims the surface of his human relationships, asking audiences to only take them at face value.
The metal-on-flesh set-pieces are undoubtedly spectacular -- and beautifully realized -- but they're also rather alienating, and quickly become repetitive despite an impressive variety of creature designs and fighting techniques.
[T]he film is hampered by a fundamental imbalance: Pacific Rim's wafer-thin psychodrama and plot-generator dialogue provides little for the human component to get their teeth into. Actual wit is in very short supply, particularly in regard to the putative light relief, a couple of shockingly unfunny wacky-scientist types played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Pacific Rim offers a few laughs and a few thrills, but it feels like a very large platter serving a disappointingly meager meal. Unlike its scaly cinematic ancestors, it never feels like the kind of movie that's going to inspire a seven-year-old to roar and knock over the Lego city he built for just that purpose.