Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

I Kind Of Miss Kevin Riepl…

I know what you’re thinking:

“Who’s Kevin Riepl?”

Well, to be perfectly honest; I have absolutely no fucking clue.

That is, outside of knowing him as the man responsible for composing the first Gears of War soundtrack, I’m really not familiar with his body of work.

IMDb-ing him (IMDb track videogames? Since when?) brings to light the fact that he has some strong ties to Epic Games, in the form of contributing soundtracks to several entries in the Unreal Tournament series.

Despite being familiar with most of these games, I can honestly say their music failed to leave an impression on me.

Probably because I ever recall of the Unreal games, at least from an audio standpoint; is this:

That being said, ever since I first played it, the Gears of War soundtrack, more specifically the main theme of the game; has always stood out to me as one of the better and more memorable game soundtracks out there, particularly in the modern era where games tend to favor ambient tunes over more thematic ones.

If you haven’t heard it before, then you’re in for a treat:

Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither Riepl, nor his brilliant theme music would be returning for any of the Gears sequels.

I may be in the minority on this, but I grew up watching James Bond and Godzilla movies by the truckload, movies that have managed to go 50+ without ditching the legendary themes that helped cement them in our minds as the film classics that they are.

Like many people, I grew attached to those themes and have come to associate them as aspects of the characters they were written for.

Sure, there were occasional moments in time when the themes were cast aside for a movie or 2, but at the end of the day they would always come back somewhere down the line.

Gears of War 2 and 3 were both composed by Steve Jablonsky.

While I’m probably wrong, my gut tells me that Epic contracted his services likely due to a combination of their incredible financial success with Gears 1, as well as Jablonsky’s newfound mainstream fame due to his involvement in the live-action Transformers film.

Maybe it’s just me, but in picturing a bunch of newly wealthy videogame nerds getting geared up for their big sequel, I could honestly see them ditching their in-house composer in favor of succumbing to their own dorkiness and hiring “The Transformers Guy” on a whim.

I’m sure that’s not how it actually went down, but I have my suspicions…

Anyway, while Jablonsky did a terrific job with the franchise following Riepl’s departure, in truth I kind of wish he hadn’t ejected the original theme music in favor of his own take on it.

Give it a listen and see what you think:

I would never consider this theme to be anything less than “good,” but there’s just something about it that feels “weaker” and less engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, Jablonsky’s a great composer, but there are just some elements to the style of his militaristic soundtracks that rub me the wrong way.

While it could just be me still being bitter over the complete and utter failure of Transformers 2 and 3 in living up to the even the slightest of expectations, in general I’ve found his work on those movies, as well as the Gears series; to be somewhat pretentious and/or melodramatic.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel both the Gears and Transformers franchises tried way too hard to insert unwarranted emotion and drama into stories that were truly devoid of any.

I prefer my Gears minus the extra helping of “Dom and Maria” thank you very much.

Dom and Maria: A plot device that allows for many instances of Dom related emo-ness masked as "emotional masculinity."

Back to Jablonsky.

He does a wonderful job of creating a mood and a “feel” to the music in such a way that it seems to fit the “texture” of the imagery it is meant to be played over, but his incessant use of choirs and Dark Knight/Inception style droning really feels a bit overbearing to me.

His soundtrack or Gears 2 was solid, especially in terms of the action cues, but far inferior to the original in terms of the overall strength and memorability of it’s themes.

While I haven’t played the game as of yet, in listening to the soundtrack for Gears 3, I can honestly say I like it better than the second.

Check it out:


The choirs are less, uh, “manly,” such that the music is much more graceful/lyrical, and less like a rehash of the droning Decepticons theme from the Transformers films.

Even so, despite vastly improving his theme for the game, I still maintain that the Jablonsky theme of Gears 3 is inferior to Riepl’s original.

I acknowledge that Jablonsky’s compositions are quite good overall, and that I very likely could just be being a sourpuss about all this; but in my opinion they should have never changed composers.

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Thinking About Conan

It’s funny, until about 2 minutes ago, I was seriously considering skipping today’s post.

You see, I’ve had a distinct lack of motivation.

It’s not that I don’t have any ideas for posts, on the contrary, I’ve got ’em by the bucket load, rather it’s the fact that I simply don’t have the time needed to complete them after I get home from work.

Anyway, as fate would have it, my Ipod decided to assault my ears with the powerful and wonderous sounds of Basil Poledouris’ Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.

Man, why did he have to die...

Let it be known, the Azn Badger loves him some Basil Poledouris, but perhaps more importantly, he fuckin’ loves him some Conan.

In short, Conan is the shit, especially the Arnold Schwarzenegger version:

FUCK.  YEAH.

I was a late arrival to the Conan party, only actually seeing the 2 movies when in I was already in my late teens, (thanks J. Dong) but that doesn’t make me any less of a fan.

Actually, if you want to get technical about it, my first experience with Conan dates back to the early 90’s when I used to watch the cartoon series, Conan the Adventurer:

Yes, Conan was indeed THE SHIT.

Seriously, that cartoon was crazy violent for the time, making it especially memorable to my impressionable young mind.

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make, is simply that Conan is FUCKING AWESOME:

Which leads me to my next point:

Did you know that they’re making another Conan movie?

I know what you’re thinking:

“How can they make a Conan movie without Arnold!?”

Well, truth be told, they probably cant.

Arnold on any given Tuesday.

Arnold brought to that role a level of charisma and gravitas that few actors could ever hope to match, and as such, he pretty much embodies the character in my mind.

Not only that, but despite the Conan films being made very early in Schwarzenegger’s career, they have a look and feel to them that is unmistakeably “Arnold.”

My point is, what I know of Conan is based around Arnold, thusly making any other interpretations of the character “wrong” in my eyes.

I’m not trying to be close-minded or head strong, but that’s just how it is.

The new Conan is going to be directed by Marcus Nispel, who just happened to direct Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pathfinder, and Friday the 13th, suggesting a penchant for/familiarity with bladed weapon-based combat.

Note that none of the films mentioned above are worth a baggy of monkey piss, nor were any of them filmed with any semblance of redeemable style or tact.

Pictured: A Urine Bag worth several cents more than any film on Marcus Nispel's resume.

It goes without saying, though Nispel might be better than say Brett Ratner, (the previous director signed to the project) he’s no prize pony.

ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY RATNER!? YOU FUCKING KILLED JACKIE CHAN YOU HAIRY SACK OF FLAMINGO FUCK!

Conan will be played by Jason Momoa of Stargate Atlantis fame.

Hmm, a little Prince of Persia-esque, but somewhat promising nonetheless...

I’ve never seen Momoa’s acting, so I can’t say how he’ll fare in that area, but being as he’s a tall and muscular dude he seems at least physically prepared for the role.

He’s no Arnold, but if the movie sucks, (which it most likely will) then my guess it’ll be the director’s fault moreso than Mr. Momoa.

Do the Hawaiians proud Momoa.

Ron Perlman is also featured in the cast, which is very much a good thing.

Ron Perlman sans makeup.

Mr. Perlman turns out consistently entertaining and engaging performances, plus it’s an interesting novelty to have Conan’s voice actor from the 2007 videogame present in a live-action Conan film.

On the production side of things, the music is going to be done by one Steve Jablonsky.

I liked Jablonsky for about 5 minutes.

I enjoyed his soundtrack for Transformers, however pretty much as soon as the curtains went up after that film ended, and he became the composer for the nerd population of the world, I came to realize that he’s pretty much a one trick pony.

This is just about the best he’s capable of:

While very good, that’s about all he’s got.

Pretty every score he does is same shit different day.

Insert heavy percussion here.
Insert brooding male choir there.
Top it off with some heavy electronic effects, and you’ve got your basic Jablonsky score.
Now I ask you, compare that to the epicry that is this:

That’s right, Basil Poledouris is THE SHIT.

RIDDLE OF STEEL FOREVER BITCHES!

In case you can’t tell by now, my personal expectations for the film are extremely low.

I truly and honestly believe that this film will suck balls.

Pictured: The promotional image that first made me think this movie was going to suck.

It kind of sucks to think that way about a franchise I love and respect so much, but when you look at the cast and director, and the fact that the film has been in development hell for so fucking long, one can’t help but feel like this movie was doomed from the moment the writer’s pen first hit the paper.

Anyway, just felt like talkin’ about Conan for a bit.

See you in the theater when this one comes out next year.

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