Song of the Day: Light of the Seven (by Ramin Djawadi)


Queen Cersei

“Cersei of the House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms….Long may she reign.” — Qyburn

To all of those who watch each new episode of Game of Thrones, last night’s episode was a classic in the making. It was the sort of episode that convinced millions 6 years ago to take a chance and watch an HBO series about a medieval fantasy series about royal politics, dragons, living dead, royal incest and lots and lots of sex and violence.

The series is based on the ongoing epic fantasy novel series by novelist George R.R. Martin. A series called A Song of Ice and Fire, tonight’s episode delivered on both the fire and ice. As we see the players on the Great Game cut down violently by the machinations of one Dowager Queen (and now Queen and first of her name), the fantasy realm of Westeros is now down to three Great Houses as the show finishes it’s sixth season with just two more to go.

One thing the series has always had to complement the outstanding performances of the ensemble cast, the epic work of directors in the singularly classic episodes 9’s (names such as Neil Marshall and Miguel Sapochnik come to mind) and the very good to great writing, it would be the series composer Ramin Djawadi and the work he has brought onto the show.

The show’s main theme is as recognizable nowadays as any John Williams, Howard Shore and James Horner piece. It’s a theme that’s become part of pop culture lexicon. There’s been other themes in the show that has been just as good. Yet, with the season finale of season 6 a new theme comes to the forefront that will be put on repeat as loyal viewers young and old watch and re-watch this season finale.

It’s a subtle theme of a single piano playing a solemn, melancholy lullaby. It’s soon to be joined by a single cello before another transition that adds the singular voice of a choirboy (the better to accentuate that this theme is one of the Seven Gods of Westeros). The song goes from that solemn lullaby and into a climactic dirge as the organ joins in to almost drown the piano and cello.

For those who saw that opening sequence of the season finale should appreciate just how well “Light of the Seven” made everything so much better once the dust settled and the world of Game of Thrones was changed forever once again.

Warcraft Official Trailer (For The Film…Not The Game…I Know, Right!)


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Warcraft was a game on the PC that I played for hours on end. It was the closest thing gamers had to a video game version of the Warhammer Fantasy property. the title had two popular sequels and gave birth to the biggest, most popular and most addictive MMORPG in history. I mean, World of Warcraft, led to couples getting divorces, players getting into real fights outside the game and even getting together in holy matrimony for reals.

So, Hollywood seeing a cash cow when it sees one had been trying to get a live-action film based on the Warcraft property for years. So many different directors had been attached to make it (from Uwe Boll right up to Sam Raimi) but in the end Duncan Jones got the job to bring Azeroth (and Draenor) to life on the big-screen.

With the film still months away, Universal and Legendary Pictures look to start the hype train going by releasing the first official trailer for Warcraft with much fanfare.

Song of the Day: The Rains of Castamere (by Sigur Rós)


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In season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones we saw a wedding come to a bloody conclusion as one of the five kings who were warring for the Iron Throne in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros was finally brought low through betrayal and the machinations of the Lannister patriarch. It was an event that will forever be known to fans of both books and the show as “The Red Wedding”.

Tonight, we find ourselves in just the second episode of Season 4 of the show. With his power over the Seven Kingdoms pretty much solidified it was high time for King Joffrey to have his wedding to Margaery Tyrell to help cement the alliance which brought the powerful House Tyrell to the Lannister side of the war.

The wedding has been dubbed “The Purple Wedding” by fans of the books due to the color symbolizing the color of royalty and this wedding one of royal means. So, while season 3 had the shocking “Red Wedding” it looks like the fourth season will have the eventful and memorable “Purple Wedding” to get post-episode tongues wagging.

It is with this wedding event we have our latest “Song of the Day” and it’s another appearance by a very popular song from the show (outside of it’s opening theme song). “The Rains of Castamere” has already made an appearance before when it was sung by the group The National. Tonight’s version was sung by the Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Rós.

The Rains of Castamere

And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that’s all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.

And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall,
with no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
and not a soul to hear.

Game of Thrones Season 4 “Foreshadowing”


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April 6, 2014 is when we return to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. We will see a continuation of the war and the storm of swords which troubles the lands. The Red Wedding will pose consequences for those who participated and across the Narrow Sea the Mother of Dragons begins her conquest and plans her inevitable return to reclaim the Iron Throne that is her birthright.

Here is a 14-minute sneak peek that foreshadows the events foretold for the upcoming season where Winter is still coming.

Song of the Day: Can You Dig It (by Brian Tyler)


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In continuing the horror detox from this past month we bring to you one of the more fun film music from this past summer’s slew of blockbusters. The latest “Song of the Day” comes courtesy of Brian Tyler’s score for Shane Black’s Iron Man 3.

The first two Iron Man films had their score composed by Ramin Djawadi and John Debney, respectively. The first score was considered one of the finer efforts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film scores. Djawadi brought a much needed fun tone to set-up the wise-ass persona of billionaire, playboy genius Tony Stark. It also had a very metal and hard rock component to it’s sound that put into the forefront that this was Iron Man.

The second film’s score by John Debney wasn’t as well-received by fans and critics alike. Which just goes to show just how much of a misfire the middle film in the trilogy was. It tried to build on what Djawadi did in the first score, but ended up becoming just a derivative version that brought nothing new to the Tony Stark series.

Now this third film brings a new film composer in Brian Tyler who has had some experience in scoring big-budget spectacles and he doesn’t disappoint with his new take on the Iron Man score. While this third score doesn’t bring back any recognizable leitmotifs from Djawadi’s score it does bring in a new sound that’s more reminiscent of 60’s action spy thrillers like the Connery and Moore Bond films. It actually evokes quite a heavy, fun 60’s psychedelic tone. This is best heard in the film’s main end titles credit sequence which brings an animated look back at the trilogy and it’s many characters.

“Can You Dig It” is just a very fun song and it brings much hope that Brian Tyler being assigned to do the film score for Thor: The Dark World will do for that series what he did to finish off the Iron Man trilogy.

Song of the Day: Mako (by Ramin Djawadi)


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Finishing off my Pacific Rim soundtrack trifecta is the Mako Mori theme by Ramin Djawadi.

The first two parts of this trio were the theme to Pacific Rim and the theme to Gipsy Danger. Both were composed by Ramin Djawadi (the film’s composer) and featured lead guitar work by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. My third choice and latest “Song of the Day” was simply titled “Mako”. This part of the soundtrack occurs primarily during a Drift sequence in the film that becomes the unifying thread to the relationship between Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori character and IDris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost role. Ramin Djawadi has singer and songwriter PRiscilla Ahn join him in this song as we see an important backstory play out within the Drift. It’s Mako’s past history with the kaiju and Stacker and why she’s so determined to become a jaeger pilot despite her adopted father’s reservations.

With this track we see that Djawadi can handle emotional musical pieces as well as the more hard rock and chest-thumping sections of the film’s score. It helps to have Priscilla Ahn’s melodic harmonizing backing up Djawadi’s composition which starts off gradually and dream-like before it transitions into a soaring string movement that Djawadi’s mentor, Hans Zimmer, wished he could pull off.

To say that the Pacific Rim soundtrack was just as awesome as the film it was composed for would be an understatement. These three choices were just my personal favorites. There were more throughout the 25-track soundtrack and each and everyone of them fits the film perfectly.

Song of the Day: Gipsy Danger (by Ramin Djawadi)


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This latest “Song of the Day” will be the second of what will be a trifecta of my favorite tracks from the Pacific Rim soundtrack by composer Ramin Djawadi. The first one was the main theme from the film and featured Rage Against the Machine lead guitarist Tom Morello providing lead guitar work. This second track I’ve chosen is siply titled “Gipsy Danger”.

Where the main theme has been everyone’s favorite in the entire soundtrack it’s difficult not to enjoy the motif for the main character of the film. Let’s be honest and just admit to ourselves that the main character in Pacific Rim is the jaeger christened Gipsy Danger. The track which introduces her theme in the film actually precedes the main theme. We actually hear the “Gipsy Danger” theme right from the start of the film. It combines some of the hard rock melodies and chords from the film’s main theme, but also expanding on the deep bass tone (sounding like a fog horn blowing) that punctuates throughout this theme more than it did in the main theme. This deep sound I always thought of as the “monster arriving” musical cue. It appears not just when Gipsy Danger makes her initial appearance but also whenever a kaiju emerges from the ocean and makes landfall to cause destruction. It’s a sound cue similar to classic giant monster flicks from Japan that announces either Godzilla or one of his kaiju brethren which was followed-up by the iconic monster scream.

We get both the rock and roll and heroic sound from the main theme combined with the more ominous musical cue in this chosen track. It pretty much focuses on one of the film’s taglines about creating monsters to fight monsters. The Gipsy Danger jaeger is a monster in her own right. But then she’s our monster and we always have a fondness for monsters as long as it’s our own.

Song of the Day: Pacific Rim Theme (by Ramin Djawadi feat. Tom Morello)


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Ok, to say that my latest musical obsession comes directly from Pacific Rim shouldn’t be quite a surprise. I’ve been so hyped about Guillermo Del Toro’s valentines card to all things mecha and daikaiju that it is only logical that it should progress right to it’s soundtrack. The latest “Song of the Day” is the awesometastic and auralgasmic opening theme song to Pacific Rim composed by Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi featuring the lead guitar stylings of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.

The “Pacific Rim Theme” is quite the homage to the classic mecha and giant robot anime series of the 70’s and early 80’s. It doesn’t go for the recent trend of classical-based opening credits song with the latest mecha series from  Japan, but it instead goes for the full-on rock’n’roll treatment. It’s mostly brass and strings with some cameos from the horn section. It also makes great use of the electronic style that evokes early John Carpenter and some of the scifi action films of the early 80’s.

It helps to have Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine doing lead guitar duties throughout the piece.

In the film, the Jaeger pilots were seen as rock stars by the public and this theme made damn sure that we know that when it plays out in the beginning.

Review: Pacific Rim (dir. by Guillermo Del Toro)


PacificRimIMAX“2,500 tons of awesome” — Newton Geizler

I’ll just say it outright and get it out of the way and say that Guillermo Del Toro is one of the few filmmakers whose body of work has earned him my admiration. The Mexican-born filmmaker has made some of the most fully-realized and visually-beautiful films of the last twenty years. It doesn’t matter whether its genre staples like Blade II and the two Hellboy films or arthouse fares like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro has a unique talent for making one believe in the world his films inhabit. This is probably the reason why Peter Jackson had tapped him to direct the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The man just has an eye for every detail, no matter how big or small, that he believes will add to the overall experience of watching his films.

When delays and behind-the-scenes studio bickerings kept the production of The Hobbit from moving forward Del Toro was already two years into pre-production of the long-awaited new trilogy, but finally backed out. He would try to make one of his dream projects his next move with the film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic At the Mountain of Madness. This was a film that looked to set the horror and genre scene by storm. It was a story that was right in Del Toro’s wheelhouse. The film would require him to create a believable world where cosmic Elder Gods and Old Ones existed and still make it terrifying and awe-inspiring. But once again his ideas would require a huge budget from the studios and his stance on making the film an R-rated one finally shelved it (though hopefully not for good).

With two major productions either cancelled or dropped out of, Guillermo Del Toro was now without a film to direct and it’s been years since his last (Hellboy II: The Golden Army). Maybe it was providence or just plain ol’ dumb luck, but in comes a screenplay from Travis Beacham which included such terms as “Jaegers” and “Kaiju” and Del Toro finally got a film that wasn’t an adaptation of someone elses work, but something he could build from the ground up and make his own. That film was and is Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim finally arrives in cinemas around the world and it couldn’t come at a better time. The last couple years have seen summer blockbusters get bigger and bigger. Each new blockbuster tried to outdo the next with something more extravagant, louder and, to their detriment, more complex and convoluted in their storytelling. This is not the case for Pacific Rim which comes in with a simple premise that managed to stay together from start to finish: giant robots fighting giant monsters.

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From that idea was born a film that lends itself well into Guillermo Del Toro’s visual and world-building talent. He had to find a way to make this film, that harkens back to the old kaiju films from Japan’s Toho studio and its mecha/giant robot anime genre, a believable world where adventure and spectacle ruled and not post-modern deconstruction and cynical characters and storytelling. It’s an endeavor that succeeds, though not perfectly, to do more than just entertain but also show that sometimes the old ways of telling a story does belong in this new world of hi-tech filmmaking.

The plot to Pacific Rim is simple enough and an extended opening prologue narrated by one of it’s lead character (Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame playing the role of Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket). Sometime in the very near future an interdimensional rift (called The Breach) in the Pacific Ocean where two tectonic plates meet open up to allow gigantic creatures dubbed by people as “kaiju”. These kaiju wreak destruction and havoc on a massive scale to the world’s Pacific coastline cities like San Francisco, Manila, Cabo and Tokyo. When conventional military means take too long and and only nuclear options remain on the table the world’s governments band their resources and technical know-how to find a new weapon to combat these kaiju. In comes the “Jaeger Program” where two pilots control 25-story tall giant robots through a “dark science” called “The Drift” to finally fight the kaiju on even terms.

We see through this prologue how the “Jaegers” and their pilots have become rock stars in the eyes of the public as their successes stems and stops the tide that’s been destroying cities in the Pacific Rim for years. It’s also in this prologue that we get to the point of the film where this success has led to overconfidence and the beginning of the end of not just the “Jaeger Program” but that gradual slope that leads to humanity’s inevitable extinction.

The bulk of the film deals with the last few days of the war when the world’s government have stopped funding the Jaeger Program and instead have pooled all resources and manpower towards building massive anti-kaiju walls along city coastlines as a measure of defense. The Jaeger Programs leader, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (played by the ever-present Idris Elba who seem to live the role), believes that his Jaegers and the Rangers piloting them still can finish the war once and for all with a final strike on The Breach with the remaining four Jaegers left in his arsenal. When the politicians tell him no he resorts to dealing with the less than legitimate sector to fund this final strike. But for this last mission to succeed he needs one of his best pilots back from the brink of remorse and mourning to pilot an older, refurbished Jaeger by the name of Gipsy Danger.

From then on the film takes on the premise that Del Toro promised when he first took on the project. We finally get to see giant robots fighting giant monsters.

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Pacific Rim lives on it’s simplicity. Whether the simplicity of it’s story, dialogue, characters and themes. The film works within those parameters and does it well. One never feels lost with in the film’s narrative. There’s nothing convoluted with this film’s story. Some have said this need to be simple is an inherent flaw. I would agree with this if someone with less talent took on the job. Del Toro understands that keeping the story simple doesn’t mean dumbing it down, but keeping the promise of what the audience expects from a genre film of giant robots fighting giant monsters needs to deliver. The film’s simplicity allows for the story to flow from it’s hi-octane action sequences to it’s more personal moments without having it seemed forced.

Even the characters themselves come off as the archetypes of past adventure films. Whether it’s the stern father figure leading the pack to the hot-shot hero looking to redeem himself for a past failure to the cocky rival whose hothead personality acts as a counter-balance to the hero’s. Even the mysterious newcomer whose past acts as one of the film’s central emotional anchors harkens back to an earlier era of storytelling that preceded the more realistic and gritty era of film narrative born during the late 60’s and 70’s.

These characters some would call one-dimensional or plain cardboard cutouts, but in the context of the film being seen they work. We get enough of what motivates each character to fully understand why their characters do what they do in the film. The motivations range from honor-bound duty to accomplishing the mission, to revenge, redemption and just plain old-school heroism. Yes, this film brings back heroism minus the recent trend to downplay such an archaic notion. The film treats heroism as something noble born out of the shared sacrifice and the need to do what’s right and to protect not just the person next to them but everyone else who cannot fight the monsters that are at their doors.

The characters of Raleigh Becket, Stacker Pentecost, Mako Mori (played by Oscar-nominatedted actress Rinko Kikuchi who channels her inner anime not just in her attitude but even her appearance) and even the dueling scientists Newton Geizler and Gottlieb (played with manic and eccentric enthusiasm by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman respectively) all come off as heroes who accepts the challenge and nobility inherent in the term. They don’t balk at the duty put on their shoulders, but go full-bore in making sure what they do doesn’t have any moments of self-doubt or cynicism. These are characters who don’t become heroes because they were forced into it. They’ve made their choice and thus have to realize that taking on the mantle of heroism would mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

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Yet, for all the talk of themes and narrative styles the film will ultimately live or die on the film’s promise. Does the giant robot fighting giant monsters hold up?

I can honestly say that it does and goes beyond what the studios have been hyping it up to be.

The action sequences between the Jaegers and the kaiju have to be some of the best action sequences of the past decade if not even farther back. It’s a loving homage to the classic daikaiju and mecha of old from Japan that Westerners grew up watching on Saturday mornings on the local UHF channels. It’s mecha anime like Mazinger Z, Macross, Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tetsujin-28, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and many others seamlessly melded with the old-school monsters flicks from the Toho Studios with kaiju bearing the iconic names of Godzilla, Gamera, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and many more. Pacific Rim is a film aimed at the inner-child of men and women who grew up watching these films and shows, but also one that seeks to fire up the imagination of the current generation of children who have been fed on the latest trend of snarky and self-doubting heroes.

The fights between the the jaegers and kaiju also does one thing that most Hollywood filmmakers who make action films have been unable to pull off. I’m talking about action sequences that remains as kinetic and explosive as any we’ve seen in the past but also aware of it’s space and environment. Pacific Rim’s action sequences never come off as being confusing. There’s no hand-held, cinema verite stylistic choices when it came to filming these sequences. We know exactly which jaeger is doing to fighting and which kaiju is fighting back. Even while set mostly at night and in the rain (or in some cases in the water and underneath in ocean), these fights and the digital effects created by ILM (with some practical ones from Legacy Effects) come off just as clear as if they were done for daytime. In fact, having them set at night with the many differing kinds of light sources available in the scene sometimes gave the fight scenes an almost psychedelic look with Hong Kong’s neon-lit streets and cityscape to the reflected bio-luminescence of the kaiju to the utilitarian lights on the jaegers themselves.

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Yet, it still all comes down on whether the promised throwndown delivers and yes it does. We’ve come to learn that even ILM can make the most awesome looking digital effect visuals but still having them end up being confusing because of the filmmaker involved. Some have called this the Michael Bay Effect. Even some of today’s most visually talented filmmakers have fallen prey to it, but not Del Toro who eschews rapid-fire editing and shaky-cam moves. He instead goes from strady shots both close-up and wide to show the battle progress from one move to the next as we see each counter-move develop into more counter-moves. These jaeger-kaiju fight scenes have an almost balletic grace to them despite the massive amount of destruction heaped not just on each other but their surrounding environment as well. They also have a sense of weight to both jaeger and kaiju. With each step, punch, crash and bodyslam there’s a sense of real actual weight being protrayed on the screen unlike films like the Transformers trilogy and, more recently, Man of Steel during some of it’s major action sequences.

Once again this boils down to the simplicity of the scenes and how this choice makes the fights more exciting and thrilling than anything we’ve seen this summer. Up-and-coming filmmakers looking to find out how to set, block and choreograph action scenes could find no better filmmaker than Guillermo Del Toro to learn from.

So, does this mean that Pacific Rim is a perfect film which has no flaws and can do no wrong. It’s a question that probably splits critics and those who talk endlessly about film, but the simple answer is that Pacific Rim is not a perfect film. It does have it’s faults that’s born out of it’s simple narrative and simple-drawn characters. Yet, these flaws also comes across as strengths depending on who ones asks. But as a piece of action-adventure filmmaking that promised the simple idea of giant robots fighting giant monsters the film was perfect.

Pacific Rim reminds us that Guillermo Del Toro is one of the few filmmakers who definitely earns the label of genius. It’s not hyperbole. It’s just fact. It takes a genius filmmaker to do the sort of varied films as he has done throughout his career both as director and producer and still have each and everyone of them feel original (whether they are or not), thought-provoking and just plain old fun. Pacific Rim may be Del Toro’s love letter to his childhood loves of mecha anime and daikaiju films from Toho and other such studios, but it’s really a rallying cry to audiences both young and old that blockbuster filmmaking doesn’t have to be gritty, journeys through psychological darkness to be successful. He’s brought the fun back in epic, grandiose filmmaking that hopefully becomes a trend and not a one-shot.

P.S.: Also, make sure to stay to watch the end title sequence that was created by Imaginary Forces to make a sequence similar to the awesome end titles for The Avengers last year. Plus, there’s a small scene mid-credits at the end that ends the film on the proper note.

Song of the Day: The Rains of Castamere (by Ramin Djawadi & performed by The National)


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HBO’s fantasy drama series, Game of Thrones, has gained the reputation of having the penultimate episode of the season (episode 9) play out a shocking event or moment that non-reader fans were not expecting. For fans of the show who have read the books the surprise is not as shocking but still worth the wait to finally see on the screen. Season 3 of the show looks to have shocked both types of fans.

In honor of the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones third season I’ve chosen the song which will forever go down in pop-culture history as the song that ushered in the “Red Wedding” to the tv landscape. It’s finally turned the series from must-see TV into one of those rare few shows that’s become an event that everyone will speak of for days, weeks, months and even years to come.

The Rains of Castamere

And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that’s all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.

And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall,
with no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
and not a soul to hear.

And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall,
with no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
and not a soul to hear.