At my age, one of the more reliable indicators of movie quality is: did I fall asleep while watching it? If I did, it's a hint that it didn't hold my interest. This is a subjective measure, but I've never pretended to do anything else here.
Friends, I fell totally asleep about two minutes into my first attempt at watching Pacific Rim. I woke up for a bit around the 17 minute mark, then off to dreamland once more. Mrs. Salad woke me and suggested we give up for the evening.
The second attempt went better, but I think I missed around 15 minutes or so in the middle.
And I really wanted to like it too. It's got one of my favorite actors, Idris Elba. And he acts the heck out of his role, but that doesn't disguise the fact that it's a clichéd and shallow role.
Anyway, the story: an interdimensional fissure at the bottom of the Pacific has been spawning gigantic homicidal monsters ("Kaiju"), threatening coastal cities and (ultimately) all of humanity. Humanity, in turn, invents giant humanoid fighting machines ("Jaegers") to battle them. Due to sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, the machines are controlled via psychic link by a couple of pilots, who (a) must be sympatico and (b) have a knack for controlling giant Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Things go well at first, but the Kaiju evolve to a point where they regularly defeat the Jaegers sent up against them. So humanity faces an existential crisis: I hate it when that happens.
The answer, of course, is to rehabilitate a long-shot disgraced hero, Raleigh Becket, whose previous outing against a Kaiju resulted in the death of his brother pilot. He is teamed with a spunky little Japanese girl, Mako Mori, who's trying to avenge the death of her family.
There's a lot of other stuff going on too. Two scientists are trying to get a handle on the Kaiju, one by mathematical analysis, the other by trying to mind-meld with a recovered Kaiju brain. This also loops in Ron Perlman, a black market dealer in recovered Kaiju parts. Comic relief.
But, bottom line: although the special effects are pretty good, they are on top of dialog and plot that seems to come out of a 60's Japanese Godzilla movie. I don't get what the big deal was supposed to be.