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Soundtrack review: Pacific Rim (Ramin Djawadi – 2013)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Pacific Rim (Ramin Djawadi – 2013)

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“Pacific Rim” is a 2013 American science-fiction monster film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman. The screenplay was written by Travis Beacham and del Toro from a story by Beacham. The film is set in the future, when Earth is at war with the Kaiju,[a] colossal sea monsters which have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers,[b] gigantic humanoid mechas, each controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link. Focusing on the war’s later days, the story follows Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement and teamed with rookie pilot Mako Mori as part of a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaiju. Ramin Djawadi wrote the score

As a teenager in the 90s, one of my favourite bands were Rage Against the Machine and even this many years later I couldn’t tell you what I loved best about that band and its sound: Zack de la Rocha’s broken and aggressive voice or Tom Morello’s equally aggressive base play. Later Morello and the other musicians from the group joined Chris Cornell on Audioslave and this long detour serves as justification of my excitement for the main theme from “Pacific Rim” which Ramin Wrote and which features Tom Morello prominently. In fact it’s his guitar that provides the might and raw power that a theme for such a movie needed. It’s a brilliant combination of sounds and one of the catchiest and most memorable themes of the past 10 years. It’s addictive as hell and so good that in a way it dwarfed the cues where it didn’t feature; I was just too excited by it to pay attention to the times when it didn’t appear and I kept waiting for that awesome guitar riff to blow up in my ears again.

Luckily bits and pieces from this main time break free and fall on most of the cues from this score giving it a clear identity. Ramin Djawadi understood Del Toro’s vision and gave the music the metallic power it needed to perfectly integrate with the story, images and special effects. Not only that but since the guitar was the main instrument for this score the composer also used it to evoke the melancholic military vibe other parts of the movie needed, like in “Canceling the apocalypse”. I smiled as I heard in this cue a romantic guitar variation of a motif that Ramin was going to adapt and intensify for it to become integral to “Game of thrones” season 6. He also uses Russian choirs in cues like “The Shatterdome” and I always feel inspired when I hear them.

The emotional content is there as well because a story like this, heroic, military had to have pieces like “Mako” to remember the fallen. There’s nothing like a nostalgic heroic piece to remind me of the 90s when this sound was all over dramas and sci-fi movies. Priscilla Ahn lends her haunting voice for this particular cue. Just like on scores like “Transformers” a female voice soaring like this provides the motivation our main characters need to regroup.

I really couldn’t have asked for more from “Pacific Rim” to get my epic and raw heroic fix. No bell, no whistles, just pure metallic power; Ramin Djawadi wrote the perfect score this movie needed and as a standalone listen as well it works with its combination of rock and electronic with the welcomed bonuses of the Russian and emotional inserts. This one is definitely a winner.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 40 / 58

Album excellence: 70%

Highlights:
Pacific Rim (feat. Tom Morello)
Canceling The Apocalypse
Just A Memory
2500 Tons Of Awesome
The Shatterdome
Mako (feat. Priscilla Ahn)
To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters
Better Than New
We Are The Resistance
Double Event
Striker Eureka
Category 5
Pentecost
Go Big Or Go Extinct (feat. Tom Morello)
For My Family
No Pulse (feat. Tom Morello)
We Need A New Weapon

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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