"Pacific Rim" looks sort of like Battle of the Monster All-Stars, as a group of kaiju (the Japanese name for giant monsters like Godzila) attack humanity, which defends itself using giant robots. Think of it as a throwback to the creature features you watched on Saturday afternoons as a kid, a tip of the hat to the movies' century-long fascination with collective fear made flesh.
The movies and monsters, especially kaiju, were made for each other. The giant monster is a by-product of modern applied science. It's an expression of our anxiety over modernization, globalization, technology, nuclear power, pollution, terrorism -- all the ways our scientific knowledge has advanced faster than our moral judgment. Our ambivalence and guilt over this imbalance are the reasons why we find the monster sympathetic as well as terrifying.
Indeed, this has been the subtext of monster tales since Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" two centuries ago, but the movies have allowed us to tap into nightmares that are even larger and scarier.
Here, then are 10 of the most significant movie monsters who stomped a path toward the kaiju confrontation in "Pacific Rim."