When huge monsters begin attacking earth, humans forgo unnecessary things, like acting, in order to fight back with giant mech warriors!

Honestly, while I never expected Pacific Rim to be a cinephile’s dream flick, I did think I’d get something halfway respectable from Guillermo del Toro. I’ll admit I was also excited to see giant mech warriors in action, having grown up at a time when mech-based animé and video games were fairly current. I can’t count how many hours I spent in early high school on a PC firing rockets and lasers at rival mechs…and yet every second was better entertainment than Pacific Rim, even without godzilla-sized monsters spitting up neon blue goo everywhere. (Yes, I was a nerd; yes, I still am.)

Unnecessarily complicated explanations for otherwise trivial and mundane plot points, awkward staging and worse-than-awkward acting, cartoony exaggeration of characters and their emotions, general predictability, dialed-in romantic chemistry, and trope after tired trope without being even remotely a parody: this is the laundry list that drags down so many of our big-budget science fiction films nowadays, and Pacific Rim is among the most weighed down I’ve seen. If it had even a hint of the kind of self-aware humor we find in Snakes on a Plane, it might have been easier to stomach, but this is completely earnest (at least in an attempt to rob theater-goers of their money). Even the moments of “comic-relief” are so sincere in their sign-posting, “THIS IS FUNNY NOW,” that you might expect to find Tommy Wiseau in the credits.

Jokes aside: the only reason to watch this is because you’ve got the flu and/or Ron Perlman. Though, now that I think of it, Ron just reminds you that you could be watching Hellboy. So really you should only watch it because you have the flu. Sorry to hear about that. Drink lots of fluids. Because even Idris Elba is bad in this!

And the worst, to be completely honest, is that there was a ton of cool possibilities in this story, all things that they could have developed, but which they wasted by trying to do too much (we can call this Prometheus Syndrome, perhaps). “Neural handshake”? Cool idea. Wasted. “Chasing the Rabbit” when you start “the drift”? Turned into an explanatory device. Portal into another dimension full of crazy monsters? Side-lined so they could do a bad job forcing characters into phony tensions. Guillermo, if you’re reading this, you’re awesome. But this film was not. Pick one great idea and plumb to its depths. Otherwise you’ve just got a rhinestone Swatch with an alarm set for an arbitrary time, like 4:17pm. (That last analogy was meaningless, like most of the character development in Pacific Rim.) Seriously speaking, though, they only made this movie so they could sell toys.

Charlie Hunnam. Who? As if I didn’t know it before, I shan’t be watching Fifty Shades of Grey when it hits theaters.

In conclusion, I give this a solid It-Was-Better-Than-Avatar-But-That’s-Not-Saying-Much rating, and recommend that you get your flu shot early this year.