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Pacific Rim
  • Composed by Ramin Djawadi
  • WaterTower Music / 2013 / 57m

Giant monsters from another world appear through a portal deep under the Pacific and attack mankind, which fights back with giant robots, in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, which has attracted considerable praise for its flat-out entertainment value. It was rather surprising when Ramin Djawadi was announced as the film’s composer – del Toro had previously worked with “proper” composers, most recently Danny Elfman, and it was easy to fear the worst from this score.  Fortunately, Djawadi has delivered a fine piece of entertainment of his own, one which is happy to sit on the surface rather than explore any depths, but one which provides much in enjoyment.  The guitars, ostinato-based action and even the HORN OF DOOM which make up the opening track may be nothing fresh, but the composer pulls the familiar elements together better than any of his Remote Control peers (including the big boss) have done in a few years.  There’s even a decent main theme which you may well find yourself humming after the album finishes – it’s given a lovely, laid-back guitar arrangement in “Cancel the Apocalypse” but its more usual guise is as a full-bodied orchestral action anthem.  The HORN OF DOOM is employed here more like a foghorn, signalling monstrous arrivals, and it works well in that capacity.

It’s nice to be able to actually hear the orchestra – of course there are synths and samples, but they are used to provide unique electronic timbres rather than following the bizarre recent Remote Control practice of recording an orchestra and then drowning it out under a sampled equivalent.  I love the modern edge provided by the electronics in “The Shatterdome”, eventually joined by a deep male choir.  As enjoyable as the action material is, it is all rather samey, so it’s nice when it’s broken up a bit and “Mako”, with wordless female vocalist, is a lovely piece.  At 57 minutes the album’s longer than it needs to be, but there’s a blessed sense of fun here which keeps interest going throughout.  It reminds me more of a Brian Tyler action score than anything else – though Djawadi doesn’t quite have Tyler’s handle of an orchestra, so it isn’t ever quite as interesting.  What it is is entertaining, and certainly the most impressive thing I’ve heard so far from this composer.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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  1. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Sunday 14 July, 2013 at 07:26

    It’s been a pleasant surprise to see the good notices this score has been getting, first from CC and now from you, considering the dire state of many of Djwajadi’s past efforts. I can’t help but wonder, though, what past Del Toro collaborators Beltrami, Elfman, or Navarrete would have come up with…

  2. ed (Reply) on Tuesday 16 July, 2013 at 15:49

    As much as i can gauge any respect for Mr. Djawadi’s attempts, i find his work on Pacific Rim to be a succession of noise clusters (well thats what you get when you hire Tom Morello), with everything resembling, yet again, a poor mans Zimmer – along with his peers, Steve Jablonsky et al. (His ‘Iron Man’ score was an abomination of the highest order).

    Now, the man has his fans, but for the life of me i can not understand why a lot of these Soundtrack review sites score ‘Man Of Steel’ a poultry one star(not that it’s a perfect score by any means), whilst the rim of the pacific is awarded a 3-4 star rating. It does, i presume, clearly epitomises the term ‘Personal Taste.’

    There are miniscule moments within the score that standout, but simply fade away through lazy writing.

    I would have liked to have heard a Robots vs, Monsters score from the likes of Guillermo’s collaborator, Javier Naverette – but the temp track is too darn weighty with a project like this. It’s a shame that Djawadi is unable to find his own vernacular within the music…Time will tell, i guess.

  3. Sting Lacson (Reply) on Saturday 3 August, 2013 at 16:52

    I liked it. Kind of like a modern-day “Eye of the Tiger”. Great music to exercise to. LOL