I saw Pacific Rim in theatre. It's cartoony, but it set up and played by its cartoony universe's rules quite solidly and was everything a movie about giant robots punching monsters needed to be. The "neural bridge" was a great hook for the partnership-dynamic plot at the heart of the action, and the action itself delivered and then some for anyone who loves the heck out of watching giant robots punch monsters. It won't be winning any awards for characterization anytime soon -- although Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Hunnam filled out their niches just fine, Idris Elba [it was Idris Elba, wasn't it?] provided some added "oomph" as their mentor and I positively loved Ron Perlman's cameo -- but this is an unabashed action premise if there ever was one, and its as action that the movie succeeds.
Of course, succeeding as an action movie is about more than just having giant robots and a big effects budget. The characters were spare but well-enough realized to make us care what happened to them, the plot was simple but solidly-constructed enough to make the action meaningful, and the action itself was delivered with real verve and a sense of genuine excitement rather than just being an exercise in dulling the senses with repeated explosions. Without these things, Pacific Rim
would be crap, just another numbing Michael Bay-style exercise in pyrotechnics. As it is, PR is pretty much the perfect type of what an action movie should be: ambitious but still well-crafted, simple without being stupid, energetic without being needlessly frenetic. [Also, in this movie I watched an improbably huge giant robot pick up an oil tanker and use it as a cudgel to beat the snot out of an equally improbably huge giant monster. Did that satisfy my inner 9-year old? Oh Hell yes.]
The only thing that kept me from scoring it an A-plus was the comic relief scientist duo, who were a bit grating.