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Soundtrack review: Pacific Rim Uprising (Lorne Balfe – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Pacific Rim Uprising (Lorne Balfe – 2018)



“Pacific Rim Uprising” is an upcoming American science-fiction action film written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight in his feature-film directorial debut and co-written by Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin. It is the sequel to the 2013 film Pacific Rim by Guillermo del Toro. It stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, and Adria Arjona, with Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi returning in their roles from the original film. Ten years after the Battle of the Breach, the oceans have become restless once again, but the Jaeger program has evolved into the next generation for the PPDC. However, a mysterious organization has reopened the Breach for the Kaiju and a Jaeger has gone rogue. Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, rises up to stand against the evolved Kaiju and a mysterious rogue Jaeger to prevent humanity’s extinction and preserve his father’s legacy. Lorne Balfe wrote the score.

There are a lot of reasons for me to get excited for the movie, amongst which monsters, for which I have something that could be categorised as a fetish and Steven S. DeKnight who after being part of Buffy and Angel created and wrote Spartacus so he’s a TV genius in my book and last, but not least, Lorne Balfe as a composer who has proved time and time again that writing for beloved franchises gets him in the zone. Here though he will have a tall order since the score for the first movie, written by his RCP step brother Ramin Djawadi was fantastic and that main theme is one that even after listening to hundreds and hundreds of scores after I can still remember and hum instantly.

Lorne’s main theme for “Pacific Rim Uprising” acts like a proper sequel: it keeps the heroic, military sound that is optimistic and inspirational while trading the raw guitar riffs that made the first one so memorable for an electronic melody. The theme is catchy and brings that extra bite at the end; I like it and I can feel it as being part of the “Pacific Rim” universe. The next cue “Born into war” is a beautiful and haunting piece that provides the emotional content I need to hear on a score like this. The cue builds up beautifully and I just needed to stop and listen to it again; it breaks out of this story and becomes a universal piece of music that I will surely return to.

This quiet and piercing sound comes back further down a score and brings an air of extra mystery to the story. If the first score was all action, the sequel adds to the depth of the sound and combines addictive and pounding percussion motifs with a sneaky, quieter sound that ties it all up really nice. There are also echoes of the RCP sound that I love so much. If “Pacific Rim” was all about the guitar, “Uprising” goes for the percussion and sometimes the music even borders on EDM like in the second half of “Shao industries”; I find myself bobbing my head and turning the volume up because cues like this are quite catchy and as a fan of electronic music I can only sit back and enjoy the music.

For “Pacific Rim Uprising” Lorne Balfe went for a more complex and dramatic sound, fleshing out a score that develops and moves forward the sound of the franchise. There’s more emotion in this one than I expected and with an evocative, broad electronic sound that is right up my alley. The emotional moments sometimes get close to ballet like, as the eerie “Amara” does. The action moments are abrupt and limitless, letting out waves of sparks at every clash and there is this inspirational effect in a lot of cues where they start slow but build up densely into something epic. The centre piece of this score, “Shatterdome attacked” is a manic, neurotic electronic piece with wild mood swings. “Uprising” is more than just an action score and the combination of warm melodies and abrasive, electrocuting motifs works very well. I discovered a more complex score than I expected and it gives me hope for the movie as well.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 42 / 65

Album excellence: 65%

Pacific Rim Uprising
Born Into War
Shatterdome Arrival
Sneaking In
Shao Industries
Obsidian Fury
Get It Done
Mega Kaiju
Battle Speech
End Game
The Revenge

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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  1. FaresTdkr 24th March 2018

    Well, I didn’t like it at all…the movie was even worse then the soundtrack. But absolutely this is not comparable with Djawadi or even with the first part .

  2. liamdude5 25th March 2018

    This one was pretty cool. Not as good as Djawadi’s original score, but still Balfe’s best of 2018 so far.


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