It seems like the summer season is once again a never-ending flood of sequels and reboots this year, with Superman and Iron Man having had their turn and Wolverine and the gang from Monsters, Inc to come. So it's no wonder that a lot of faith is being placed in PACIFIC RIM, the new original (well, not really original but you get the drift) blockbuster from Guillermo Del Toro that pits giant monsters against giant robots. What can go wrong?
Well, the music could go wrong. The score here is composed by Ramin Djawadi (whose previous album garnered a five-star review) with help from Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello. This may give you an idea of what to expect. I've always been a little off with Djawadi's film work, it's always kind of faded into a generic background which is why his score for Game of Thrones surprised me so much, then again scoring for TV and especially dialogue-driven TV is a lot different than your average explosion porn.
Honestly, nothing much is different here. The keyword here is "cheese", and to be honest I imagine it's relatively appropriate given the subject of the film (as usual, while I'm reviewing this the film is not yet out so I haven't seen it). The vibe I got from the score is a kind of WWE wrestling atmosphere, a little crazy and jingoistic with total melodrama via heightened strings and the guitar. I can absolutely imagine massive mechanical men going head to head against kaiju (the overly-cute name for the monsters in the film) with these big broad anthemic tones backing them up. Unfortunately, while it may be good for the film (absolutely the first priority for a score) it's kind of numbing on its own.
I mean, it's not terrible. The melodies are decent - again, if cheesy - and I did get some fun out of it at times, especially the guitar parts as I was a very big fan of Morello and Rage Against The Machine in my youth. There are a couple of musical homages, notably the big blaring notes at the beginning of '2500 Tons of Awesome' that are right out of the monster movies of the 50s, and also some weird moments that seem like an attempt to break the album up, like 'Mako', which just sounds like they tracked in Enya and seems a bit out of place amongst the teenage machismo.
And then there is BLAAAAAARGH. Yep, as unsurprising as it is given Djawadi's association with Hans Zimmer, you will find the odious horn blasts from INCEPTION (and every trailer at the moment) in here. To be fair to Djawadi, it's mixed in at a more agreeable level than usual, so it doesn't overawe everything. Still, naughty Djawadi!
PACIFIC RIM probably isn't worth the shellacking it'll get, just because it's generally boring and generic. The cheesy wrassling sound probably works with the picture and the fun vibe it has going on, I just think as an album it's utterly forgettable. Akira Ifukube, where art thou?
PACIFIC RIM will be released on July 15 by Sony Classical