Pacific Rim Soundtrack Review (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Friday, July 19, 2013
When it comes to Summer Movies, the soundtrack used to be as essential as the novelization and the poster. Names were made off the soundtrack like John Williams, Danny Elfman, and, to a more recent extent, Hans Zimmer. In an era where we are inundated with tie-ins and products, the studio does everything and anything to sell their new name brand. When I saw that Pacific Rim was getting a soundtrack release I was skeptic at first. What new up and coming bands would be featured on this soundtrack? To my surprise, (and I should have known being this was a Guillermo Del Toro film) the soundtrack is absent of the latest rock bands. It is by a relatively new comer to the genre and features a legendary guitarist as well.
When I first researched Ramin Djawadi, I was shocked to learn that he had composed the score to Iron Man (2008), is currently composing for Game of Thrones, and first worked with Guillermo Del Toro on Blade: Trinity (2004). The German born composer’s filmography is a great collection of TV Shows, Genre Pictures, and Animated Features which is beginning to rival that of the legendary artists mentioned above (see filmography here). What I found so refreshing with Djawadi’s work in Pacific Rim was that it set a time and mood for those characters and places. I listened to the score prior to seeing the movie and instantly had a feeling for what I would see on screen. This is easy to do after you watch a film. Can you think of anything else during John Williams “Binary Set” but Luke Skywalker watching the setting of the two suns? No. In Pacific Rim I got an instant feeling for who Newt was (track #4) and knew Mako (track #7) was going to be the tragic character. What thrilled me right from the get-go was that Pacific Rim had a recognizable theme (track #1), a theme supplied by Rage Against the Machine’s legendary lead guitarist, Tom Morello. It was big, hard, and sounded like heavy metal. All fitting as this is a movie about Giant Robots and Kaiju. In the story of Pacific Rim, countries from all over the world unite to fight a common enemy. Djawadi encompasses many different themes and stand-alone pieces that invoke the spirit of a different country. “The Shatterdome” (track #6) by its half way point sounds like a rally cry for communist Russia. Fitting, as every time the Russian Jaegers appear on screen the score gets intense. “Mako” features singer Priscilla Ahn. Ahn has few credits to her filmography, but nothing on the scale of Pacific Rim. Her vocals on this singular track invoke Enya from the “Council of Elrond” in The Fellowship of the Ring and Lisa Gerrad’s “Honor Him” in Gladiator. Hopefully, there will be more from Ahn in future scores.
The score is a constant build up. It kept the film moving forward and never lagged on a singular moment. The story behind Pacific Rim is one of a united humanity and its battle to overcome an unstoppable enemy. The score is a complete kick-ass thrill ride that has the muscle to back it up. Yet, with all the giant monsters and robots, it never loses sight of the heart behind its characters.
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.
Mania Grade: A
Soundtrack: Pacific Rim
Composer: Ramin Djawadi
Guest Artists: Tom Morello and Priscilla Ahn
Time: 58 Minutes
Distributor: Water Tower Music (Warner Brothers)
Original Year of Release: 2013