Guillermo del Toro's robots vs aliens smackdown promises to combine a little class with its Michael Bay-esque pyrotechnics. Could this be the moment the sub-genre grows up?
Pacific Rim is co-written by Del Toro himself, the latest science-fiction wannabe blockbuster to hit the big screen in 2013 is being pitched to the cinema world as a film which combines classy atmospheric eye candy with all the furious action one might expect from one of Bay's explosion-fests.
"What we went for is a very, very romantic look," Del Toro told the LA Times earlier this year. "I wanted to have a lot of crazy rain, wind, all the drama of an Emily Brontë movie in a high-tech movie."
Pacific Rim also has an enviable castlist, with Charlie Hunnam of the deliciously bloodthirsty guilty pleasure biker show Sons of Anarchy (and previously Byker Grove for you UK fans!) joining Idris Elba and surprise surprise Del Toro's ever-reliable old pal Ron Perlman in the battle to save Earth from extra-terrestrial invasion of an impressively original type.
Michael Bay and Del Toro had a well-publicised, if brief, spat early in the year when the US film-maker's scornful comment about the current proliferation of giant robot movies led his rival director to mount a terse defence of Pacific Rim. The pair have since blamed a naughty journalist for hyping up the row, but there's little doubt the Transformers films' pre-eminence in this weirdly sub-genre is under some sort of threat. Michael Bay has managed to get away with ridiculous box-office success for a series of movies that even the Pearl Harbour director admits has dropped into sub-standard territory now and then (most critics would suggest that verdict is something of an understatement).
Now along comes a critically acclaimed film-maker who genuinely adores this kind of genre fare and appears to have imbued it with serious mix of swag and class. It's enough to have any film-maker feeling a little shifty: if you're the kind of director who's happy to prep one's key talent via Skype for a multimillion-dollar production, it must be absolutely terrifying.
The problem for Del Toro, of course, is that Michael Bay isn't going to give up without a fight. We should fully expect his forthcoming Transformers IV to feature even more brain-battering eye horror, as well as the predictable presence of at least one scantily clad female who doesn't say much but is really, really good at soaping down low-riders while flashing the max amount of flesh. Pity poor Nicola Peltz and Sophia Myles, who have just signed on to join fellow newcomer Mark Wahlberg in a film that's due as early as next year. Pacific Rim arrives in UK and US cinemas on 12 July.
I'm pumped either way - what about you?