Category Archives: 5

John Carter (2012) – Michael Giacchino

Note: This review is a short version of a more detailed look conducted in a post on my companion site, ChadTalksMovies, titled “My Adventures on Barsoom.” Check it out!
John Carter

I’ve made it clear in the past that Michael Giacchino is one of my favorite composers, and I might have even called him the best composer out there today; his ability to so effortlessly switch between genres is impressive, with him composing excellent scores for such contrasting films as Star Trek (my review), Up, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (my review). My recent obsession with all things John Carter/Barsoom-related has introduced me to Giacchino’s score for the 2012 Disney film for the first time. As expected, it’s wonderful.

The soundtrack opens with Giacchino’s beautiful, sweeping theme representing the world of Barsoom; after listening to it for the first time, I walked away whistling it. In the theme, he has managed to capture the majesty and splendor of the planet, both as described by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the original A Princess of Mars novel (my review) and as shown in the film adaptation, but it also embodies both the adventure at hand and the romance between Carter and Dejah Thoris. This quickly fades into something more ethereal and otherworldly, led by a solo voice and eerie strings, serving as a backdrop to the opening scene that describes the plight of the dying planet.

There is a lot of diversity found in this score, with Giacchino switching between a larger, more triumphant sound (“Carter They Come, Carter They Fall,” “The Prize is Barsoom”) and something that is more mysterious and appropriately unearthly (“The Temple of Issus,” “A Thern Warning”). He also makes heavy use of voice, with either the choir or a single voice making an appearance in just about every track. The dexterity of the human voice gives it the ability to fit right in with the “unearthly” style of music mentioned as well as with the more tender, intimate moments of the score, such as at the start of the track “A Change of Heart.” They even fit in perfectly during the more aggressive, war-like bits of music, such as in the latter half of the track “The Prize is Barsoom.”

The Tharks are an indigenous species on Barsoom, not human-like in appearance, and they are represented well here by heavy percussion with a sort of tribal, primitive sound to it. It’s appropriately aggressive, just like the Tharks themselves. Giacchino uses strings to great effect, with the bowed instruments often acting as the driving force beneath the rest of the orchestra, usually playing an ostinato eighth note line, occasionally interjecting with a quieter version of theme heard in the other instruments. The strings also have many beautiful moments on their own, playing soft, warm melodies that emphasize the beauty of the world and the tenderness shown between Carter and Dejah Thoris.

The original John Carter stories as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired many generations of scientists, writers, and even filmmakers. Among those was George Lucas, whose Star Wars saga borrows many elements of story and character from Burroughs’ work. It’s an ironic twist, then, for me to point out that there are parts of Giacchino’s score here that are reminiscent of John Williams’ score to Star Wars. No, nothing is ripped off, but there are certain points in the score when I can definitely hear the nod to Williams’ work, which is a nice touch that familiarizes the film a bit. You can even hear some of Giacchino’s Star Trek in here, though there’s nothing blatant enough to upset me. These three films all take place on foreign planets/in space, so the feel of them is similar (though Star Trek is definitely more sci-fi than the other two) and the music shares common elements of the genre.

Despite the fact that the film was not received very well, Giacchino’s score has received universal acclaim because, well, he’s awesome. With his score to John Carter, Giacchino has ventured into yet another new territory for him – that is, the territory of space fantasy – and has emerged victorious. His interpretation of John Carter’s Barsoom is on as grand a scale as the original book, but he also captures the more personal moments between our hero and Dejah Thoris. His ability to switch styles so quickly, from a majestic main theme to an aggressive percussion rhythm for the Tharks to ethereal strings/voices for the planet of Barsoom itself, makes the soundtrack just as epic as the film itself.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

1. “A Thern for the Worse” 7:38
2. “Get Carter” 4:25
3. “Gravity of the Situation” 1:20
4. “Thark Side of Barsoom” 2:55
5. “Sab Than Pursues Princess” 5:33
6. “The Temple of Issus” 3:24
7. “Zodanga Happened” 4:01
8. “The Blue Light Special” 4:11
9. “Carter They Come, Carter They Fall” 3:55
10. “A Change of Heart” 3:04
11. “A Thern Warning” 4:04
12. “The Second Biggest Apes I’ve Seen This Month” 2:35
13. “The Right of Challenge” 2:22
14. “The Prize Is Barsoom” 4:29
15. “The Fight for Helium” 4:22
16. “Not Quite Finished” 2:06
17. “Thernabout” 1:18
18. “Ten Bitter Years” 3:12
19. “John Carter of Mars” 8:53

Total Length: app. 75 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


Man of Steel (2013) – Hans Zimmer

man-of-steel

I am often critical of Hans Zimmer’s work due to the tendency of his music to often sound the same. I was especially skeptical going into his score for director Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel; not only did he face the challenge of coming up with original material that didn’t sound too much like his scores to Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy, but he was also following in the footsteps of arguably the best film composer of the twentieth century, John Williams, who composed the now-iconic theme to Superman (1978). John Williams is my all-time favorite composer, so Zimmer was up for quite the challenge indeed: could he impress me?

This score contains an outstanding amount of variety. The first track, “Look to the Stars,” is appropriately ethereal as it plays during a scene taking place on Krypton. It contains hints to the main theme, which doesn’t appear until later, and it ends with a driving string melody that builds anticipation into the upcoming fight scene. Other tracks on the album have this sort of supernatural quality as well, including “Sent Here for a Reason” and “Krypton’s Last,” the latter of which also contains an emotional lament played on what seems to be a viola. This music serves as Clark’s tie to his home world.

Emotion is expressed in all sorts of ways in this music; we hear the aforementioned lamentations for a lost planet (which is later heard in “I Have So Many Questions” as Clark interacts with the “ghost” of his Kryptonian father), we hear the anger felt by Zod through a  string ostinato overlayed with heavy brass and aggressive percussion (“You Die or I Do,” “I Will Find Him,” “General Zod”), and we hear Clark Kent’s curiosity for answers regarding his past in the form of a juxtaposition between the ethereal music heard on Krypton with an early piano iteration of what will become the main theme for his Superman persona. It is this conglomeration of emotional themes of all shapes and sizes that makes this score so effective as both a companion to the film and as an affective stand-alone work, helping you to envision what the characters are experiencing without the aid of a movie screen.

Regarding the main theme, Zimmer has somehow managed to capture everything that I thought and felt about Superman as a character and as an American icon in a simple piece of music. On the soundtrack, this theme is first heard in the track “Sent Here for a Reason,” but it appears more entirely on the track “This is Clark Kent.” It starts out as a simple theme on the piano, but it eventually falls into what can best be described as a “groove,” joined by percussion and gaining an extra layer of fullness as the character becomes more certain in who he is meant to be. It gains even another layer as Superman becomes a fully-realized hero, consisting of strings playing sixteenth notes, brass fanfare, and screaming electric guitar, bringing both the theme and the character full-circle in an incredibly satisfying way.

No superhero film score would be complete without its action music, of which there is also plenty to be heard here. Fueled by a team of twelve of the world’s best percussionists, the action music here is aggressive, impactive, and powerful. It always drives the movement on screen forward in a way that is more supportive than obtrusive, but that’s not to say that Zimmer doesn’t have his moments of glory while you watch the film; tracks like “Terraforming” and “This is Madness!” pack as literal a punch as Superman does in the film (in a good way), and “Flight” features a different type of action music that is driven as equally by the resonant French horn choir with voice accompaniment as it is by the percussionists.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beast of a track titled “Man of Steel (Hans’ Original Sketchbook),” which essentially serves as a suite for the entire score. Sitting at nearly half an hour long in length, it is jam-packed with just about every bit of music that you hear in the other tracks, but here they flow together into a giant, coherent work of art. Dare I say it? This track is a masterpiece – a true testament to Hans Zimmer’s complete capabilities as a composer.

So, did Zimmer impress me here? The answer is a resounding “YES!!!!!!” This score is ultimately my favorite score that he has ever composed, and it even surpasses my love for Williams’ original Superman theme, which is quite a feat in itself. Though you likely won’t be walking away from the theater with the theme stuck in your head as might have been the case with Williams’ theme, Zimmer has managed to capture all of the hope, nobility, and power of Superman in his score to Man of Steel; Williams’ theme accompanies Superman well, but Zimmer’s theme IS Superman, and I look forward to his work on the inevitable sequel. Bravo, Mr. Zimmer. Keep up the outstanding work.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Note: I purchased the Deluxe Edition of this album on iTunes, which is what the following track list is from. I highly recommend the Deluxe Edition, but the link to the Standard Edition is provided below as well.

Disc 1 – Flight

1. “Look to the Stars” 2:58
2. “Oil Rig” 1:45
3. “Sent Here for a Reason” 3:46
4. “DNA” 3:34
5. “Goodbye My Son” 2:01
6. “If You Love These People” 3:22
7. “Krypton’s Last” 1:58
8. “Terraforming” 9:49
9. “Tornado” 2:53
10. “You Die or I Do” 3:13
11. “Launch” 2:36
12. “Ignition” 1:19
13. “I Will Find Him” 2:57
14. “This Is Clark Kent” 3:47
15. “I Have So Many Questions” 3:47
16. “Flight” 4:18

Disc 2 – Experiments from the Fortress of Solitude
No. Title Music Length
1. “What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?” Hans Zimmer 5:27
2. “Man of Steel” (Hans’ Original Sketchbook) Zimmer 28:16
3. “Are You Listening, Clark?” Zimmer 2:48
4. “General Zod” Zimmer, Junkie XL 7:21
5. “You Led Us Here” Zimmer 2:59
6. “This Is Madness!” Zimmer, Junkie XL 3:48
7. “Earth” Zimmer 6:11
8. “Arcade” Zimmer, Junkie XL 7:25

Total Length: app. 119 min.

iTunes Album Links – Standard Edition, Deluxe Edition

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of this film here!


Lincoln (2012) – John Williams

Long-time Spielberg collaborator John Williams has a history of composing some of the most iconic scores in film history; Star WarsRaiders of the Lost ArkJawsSupermanE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialJurassic Park, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were all brought to life by his incredible music. In his old age, Williams has slowed down a bit, but his scores to the 2011 films War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin were just as excellent as always. With War Horse, he took a more minimal approach than he typically has in the past, relying on gorgeous strings and warm brass to bring a feeling of intimacy to the film that fit the tone of the film. He uses this same approach with Lincoln, and the result is breathtaking.

The music in Lincoln perfectly embodies the American spirit. There is grandeur, there is majesty, there is conflict and resolution, there is emotion…Williams has captured it all. Much of this album is more solo-oriented, which helps with that intimacy that I mentioned before. The first track, “The People’s House,” opens with a single clarinet melody, low and calm, evoking visions of long hours spent in the Oval Office making decisions for the better of the country. Throughout the soundtrack, we are treated to solos from clarinet (“The People’s House,” “Equality Under the Law”), trumpet (“The Purpose of the Amendment,” “The American Process”), horn (“The Southern Delegation and the Dream,” “Father and Son”), and piano (“The Blue and Grey,” “Remembering Willie”). Each solo instrument brings forth a different emotion, enabling Williams to exploit these associations to accentuate the feelings in a particular scene. These emotions are made even more powerful once the solo instrument is joined by the full orchestra; the strings bring a warmth that reminds me of family and responsibility.

“The Blue and Grey” (obviously referring to the uniform of the Confederate Army) is a somber sort of track that hints at the tension between the Union and the Confederacy, while “With Malice Toward None” conveys Lincoln’s sense of duty to his country. “Father and Son” goes on to highlight Lincoln’s tentative relationship with his son in the midst of his presidential responsibilities, a sentiment that is continued in “Remembering Willie,” a terribly emotional track that echoes the grief felt by a distraught mother and her empathetic husband. “Appomattox, April 9, 1865” captures a grand moment in history with the timidity appropriate for such a solemn occasion, and it also expertly uses a choir to represent the almost spiritual element of the occasion.

Just on a quick aside, there is a short motive heard throughout the film that sounds nearly identical to a similar motive from Randy Newman’s score to the Disney/Pixar film A Bug’s Life. Compare this from “The American Process” to this excerpt from “Flik Leaves” on the soundtrack album for A Bug’s Life. Also, considering the fact that Abraham Lincoln is buried in Illinois, I thought it to be a nice touch that this score was appropriately recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

I could go on and on and on some more about this soundtrack, but I digress. It should be obvious that I think quite highly of Mr. Williams and his music for Lincoln. I think that it perfectly represents all of the complicated aspects of one of America’s most celebrated presidents: his dedication to his country, his love for his family, his moral dilemma in doing the right thing. John Williams’ score to Lincoln is film scoring at its very finest, proving that, even at 83, he’s still got it.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

1. “The People’s House” 3:43
2. “The Purpose of the Amendment” 3:07
3. “Getting Out the Vote” 2:49
4. “The American Process” 3:57
5. “The Blue and Grey” 3:00
6. “With Malice Toward None” 1:51
7. “Call to Muster and Battle Cry of Freedom” 2:17
8. “The Southern Delegation and the Dream” 4:43
9. “Father and Son” 1:42
10. “The Race to the House” 2:42
11. “Equality Under the Law” 3:12
12. “Freedom’s Call” 6:08
13. “Elegy” 2:35
14. “Remembering Willie” 1:51
15. “Appomattox, April 9, 1865” 2:38
16. “The Peterson House and Finale” 11:00
17. “With Malice Toward None (Piano Solo)” 1:31

Total Length: app. 59 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of this film here!


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) – Howard Shore

*Note: I purchased and will be reviewing the Special Edition of Howard Shore’s score to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which features several extended and additional tracks. It is worth the extra money!

I’m a relatively new fan to Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth, but I’m familiar enough to know how fantastic Howard Shore’s scores to the original films are. As a result, I was quite excited to hear his score for the first of the three films based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit, called An Unexpected Journey, and I was right to be: Shore’s music holds just as much fantasy and adventure as it did all those years ago.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens with some familiar themes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The most prominent of these is the theme for the Shire/Bag End, heard in “My Dear Frodo,” “Old Friends,” and in a couple of other tracks throughout. Another is the theme that I associate with the One Ring, which doesn’t make an appearance until “Riddles in the Dark.” The genius of these familiar themes is that they are not exactly the same as they were in the original film trilogy; each theme is a slight variation from the way it was originally heard in The Lord of the Rings. In fact, the theme for the One Ring is teased throughout the first half of the score, all the way up to the moment it is finally revealed in “Riddles in the Dark.”

Aside from what is familiar, Shore has composed quite a bit of new material, which is altogether lighter in nature than that of The Lord of the Rings; after all, this is a younger Middle-Earth, a Middle-Earth that exists several years before the return of Sauron. Tracks such as “An Unexpected Party” and “The World Is Ahead” display this lightness, but that does not mean that darkness is not present in this score. Tracks such as “An Ancient Enemy” and “Warg-scouts,” among others, reflect this darkness and the building threat of the mission at hand.

Shore’s greatest strength is his use of choirs to convey emotion and to build upon the music in a way that instruments cannot do alone. Even in his use of choirs we hear variety, from the use of a heavy, deep men’s choir in tracks like “An Ancient Enemy,” a boys’ choir such as in “The Hidden Valley,” or a full chorus such as in “Out of the Frying Pan.” Also, his incorporation of Tolkien’s original text for songs (which he also did in The Lord of the Rings film series) is wonderful, heard in the Special Edition bonus track “Blunt the Knives” and in the main theme for the film, “Misty Mountains.” Speaking of this theme, “Misty Mountains” is heard at several points throughout the score and conveys the same sense of purpose and adventure as the his themes for the Fellowship or for Théoden King. One of my favorite moments in the score is in the track “Over Hill,” where he juxtaposes the “Misty Mountains” theme with the theme for the Shire.

I could go on and on forever talking about this score and how fantastic it is, but I’ll leave that to you to discover. Howard Shore may not have quite the track record of John Williams or Hans Zimmer, but his work on The Lord of the Rings and now on The Hobbit is unparalleled – a masterpiece in every sense of the word. While the scope of The Hobbit is not as great as the story that follows it, the score is worthy of occupying the same world, living up to every expectation Shore set for himself. Also, as I mentioned before, the Special Edition is worth the extra money, so go for it!

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Disc 1

1. “My Dear Frodo” 8:03
2. “Old Friends” (Extended Version) 5:00
3. “An Unexpected Party” 4:08
4. “Blunt the Knives” (performed by The Dwarf Cast, Exclusive Bonus Track) 1:01
5. “Axe or Sword?” 5:59
6. “Misty Mountains” (performed by Richard Armitage and The Dwarf Cast) 1:42
7. “The Adventure Begins” 2:04
8. “The World is Ahead” 2:19
9. “An Ancient Enemy” 4:56
10. “Radagast the Brown” (Extended Version) 6:37
11. “The Trollshaws” (Exclusive Bonus Track) 2:08
12. “Roast Mutton” (Extended Version) 4:56
13. “A Troll-hoard” 3:38
14. “The Hill of Sorcery” 3:50
15. “Warg-scouts” 3:02

Disc 2

1. “The Hidden Valley” 2:49
2. “Moon Runes” (Extended Version) 3:39
3. “The Defiler” 1:14
4. “The White Council” (Extended Version) 9:40
5. “Over Hill” 3:42
6. “A Thunder Battle” 3:54
7. “Under Hill” 1:54
8. “Riddles in the Dark” 5:21
9. “Brass Buttons” 7:37
10. “Out of the Frying-Pan” 5:55
11. “A Good Omen” 5:45
12. “Song of the Lonely Mountain” (performed by Neil Finn, Extended Version) 6:00
13. “Dreaming of Bag End” 1:56
14. “A Very Respectable Hobbit” (Exclusive Bonus Track) 1:20
15. “Erebor” (Exclusive Bonus Track) 1:19
16. “The Dwarf Lords” (Exclusive Bonus Track) 2:01
17. “The Edge of the Wild” (Exclusive Bonus Track) 3:34

Total Length: app. 128 min.

iTunes Album Link (Special Edition)

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – Hans Zimmer

Zimmer Week continues!

Hans Zimmer takes the reins from Klaus Badelt in composing the score for the second film of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Dead Man’s Chest.

Every single track on this album is outstanding…something I don’t usually say about a Hans Zimmer score, but it’s well-deserved in this instance. The opening track, “Jack Sparrow”, is fitting for the Johnny Depp character, with a drunken cello solo taking up the first minute and a half before it shakes off its stupor and takes off into a swashbuckling, adventurous pirate theme – something that Mr. Zimmer certainly seems to have a knack for.

Perhaps the best thing that this album has to offer is the use of the organ. While it may seem a bit strange to use an instrument like an organ so liberally in a film score, Zimmer puts it to good use. In “The Kraken”, we hear a brooding bass line that is almost reminiscent of John Williams’ theme to Jaws; it takes its own slow pace before building into a full orchestra playing just about as loud as it can, which then dwindles back down to a simple, haunting organ line. The rest of the track simulates the kraken’s hunting of its victims and their impending doom. It’s a terrific backdrop for such a terrifying creature.

The organ also features pretty heavily in “Davy Jones”. The opening of this track is very ethereal and music-box like, showing the more tender side of the character that the track is named for. However, this doesn’t last long before the organ takes over and turns the innocent theme into the inner turmoil that Jones feels inside. It ends the way it starts, but the theme is now slower…almost heartbreaking.

Other standout tracks on this album include “Dinner is Served”, which is aggressive and tribal before transitioning into a waltz that sounds more delightful than the part of the film it is featured in. The joke is, I think, that the swinging cages are meant to represent trapeze artists, an image that the music fits fairly well. “Two Hornpipes (Tortuga)” is raucous and fun, while “Wheel of Fortune” could be used as the definition for “adventure”.

I could go on naming tracks that I love, but let’s face it: I’ve already mentioned more than half of them. If you couldn’t tell, Dead Man’s Chest is my absolute favorite Hans Zimmer score, so go and give it a listen. Every single track on this album is fantastic…minus the DJ Tiësto remix of “He’s a Pirate” from the first film, but it doesn’t count.. Though I’m giving it the same rating, know this: this film’s score is better than Inception‘s. Enjoy!

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

  1. “Jack Sparrow” (6:06)
  2. “The Kraken” (6:55)
  3. “Davy Jones” (3:15)
  4. “I’ve Got My Eye on You” (2:25)
  5. “Dinner is Served” (1:30)
  6. “Tia Dalma” (3:57)
  7. “Two Hornpipes (Tortuga)” (1:14)
  8. “A Family Affair” (3:34)
  9. “Wheel of Fortune” (6:45)
  10. “You Look Good Jack” (5:34)
  11. “Hello Beastie” (10:15)
  12. He’s a Pirate (DJ Tiësto Remix) (7:03)

Total Length: app. 52 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad


Inception (2010) – Hans Zimmer

After two weeks of writing reviews like this, you should know by now that, while I am a big Hans Zimmer fan (I have eleven film scores in which he’s listed as the main or co-composer), my main criticism is that LOTS of his music sounds the same. However, in choosing to review one of his scores, I have decided to put aside these criticisms in order to focus on this score and this one alone. I could go on and on about how certain tracks sound like Zimmer’s music from other films, but I won’t. So here you go: my review of Hans Zimmer’s score to Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film, Inception.

I suppose that the genius of this score, aside from using a more contemporary orchestration for much of it (i.e. it’s very electronics-heavy), is that the “theme” or “motif” most associated with this film is so simple. Heard from the starting moments of the album with the track “Half Remembered Dream”, this two-note motif is heard often throughout the film, and it’s quite effective. Its simplicity makes it all the more recognizable whenever it pops up in later tracks, like in “Dream is Collapsing” and “Dream Within a Dream”. For those who don’t know, this motif is derived from the French song featured prominently in the film, “Non, je ne regrette rien”; you can hear it in the intro to the song, before Edith Piaf starts singing. There is even one moment in “Waiting for a Train” when the French song and the motif are played back-to-back, so listen out for that! The music that leads up to this motif is the same in every track but the first, since the motif is meant to indicate that the time left in the dream is coming to an end. This pre-motif music consists of (what I’m assuming is) eighth notes in 3/4 time, with a dip in pitch and emphasis on beat 1 of the second set of 3. Again, this is simple but quite effective in building the excitement up to the point when time is up.

Parts of this score are hard to describe, but I suppose that an appropriate description would be “contemplative”. I’m referring to tracks such as “Radical Notion”, “One Simple Idea”, and much of “Waiting for a Train”, in which one short phrase is repeated pretty much throughout the entirety of the track. Tracks like these fit because the film itself is largely contemplative; that is to say, it makes you think a lot. These tracks are largely out of the way and meant to be truly background to the events unfolding on screen, perhaps playing during moments when the current focus is exposition/explanation. Very smart of Mr. Zimmer to know when the focus is less on music and more on film content, and, despite the fact that they’re “out of the way”, he manages to make them actual contributions to the film, rather than just filler nonsense made to take up sound.

Well, there you have it. When I first bought this soundtrack a year and a half or so ago, I expected it to sound like all of Hans Zimmer’s other stuff, but was pleasantly surprised and refreshed; for the most part, Inception features some of the most original stuff that I’ve ever heard from Zimmer. In fact, my disclaimer at the start of this review was probably actually unnecessary for this score. Kudos to you, Hans. My favorite track, and by far the most fantastic from the album, is Zimmer’s beautiful/simple/contemplative composition “Time”, which contains themes that have been hinted at in earlier tracks such as “We Built Our Own World” and “Paradox”. Check this score out. I don’t think you’ll regret it – and this is coming from a harsh Zimmer critic.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

1. “Half Remembered Dream” 1:12
2. “We Built Our Own World” 1:55
3. “Dream Is Collapsing” 2:28
4. “Radical Notion” 3:43
5. “Old Souls” 7:44
6. “528491” 2:23
7. “Mombasa” 4:54
8. “One Simple Idea” 2:28
9. “Dream Within a Dream” 5:04
10. “Waiting for a Train” 9:30
11. “Paradox” 3:25
12. “Time” 4:35
13. “Projections” (Bonus Track) 7:04
14. “Don’t Think About Elephants” (Bonus Track) 5:35

Total Length: app. 50 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad


Star Trek (2009) – Michael Giacchino

It was only a matter of time before I looked at a Giacchino score! First up is his score to the reboot of the Star Trek franchise, which is one of his best…heck, I could say that about any of this guy’s scores!

Giacchino is one of the most adaptable and capable composers out there today. I would even venture to say that he’s the best film composer around right now. A bold statement, yes, but just look at his track record: LOSTThe IncrediblesStar TrekUp, etc…the list goes on and on!

Though I’ve owned Giacchino’s score to Star Trek for a couple of years now, today was the first time I sat down and listened to it critically, and I noticed something: it’s highly reminiscent of John Williams’ score to Star Wars – in a good way! For example, take a listen to the first track, “Star Trek”, and compare it to this track from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, “Binary Sunset”. Long, beautiful melodies played on the solo French horn? Yup, definitely a match! You can hear this influence from Star Wars throughout, most evident in the heavy brass parts with the light woodwind/string countermelodies in the background – something that Williams is king of, but Giacchino comes awfully close to matching this skill.

While I’ve said that, yes, the score to this film is remininscent of Star Wars, Giacchino still manages to make it completely his own. “Labor of Love”, a heartbreaking piece that takes place as Thor Chris Hemsworth’s character gives up his life to save countless others, sounds hugely different from anything in Star Wars. “Enterprising Young Men” is exciting throughout, and “Hella Bar Talk” is a beautiful reflection of Jim Kirk’s decision to join Starfleet. There are also some cool parts featuring a chorus, such as in the track “Nero Death Experience”. “Nero Sighted” is aggressive and suspenseful, with an awesome low brass melody that is infinitely cooler (though, unfortunately, less iconic) than “The Imperial March” from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Perhaps EVEN COOLER is how Giacchino intersperses an updated main theme from the original TV series, Star Trek: The Original Series, heard in “To Boldly Go” and “End Credits”. If I was a Trekkie, I would have jumped up and down in the theater upon hearing this nod to the original. How cool is Giacchino?!

Overall, Michael Giacchino’s score to Star Trek is everything that a Trekkie could ask for, everything a film score appreciator could ask for, and it raises the movie to heights higher than even the USS Enterprise could take them. Plus, with clever track names full of pop culture references (i.e. “Does It Still McFly?”, “Back from Black”, etc.), what’s not to love?

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

1 “Star Trek” 1:03
2 “Nailin’ the Kelvin” 2:09
3 “Labor of Love” 2:51
4 “Hella Bar Talk” 1:55
5 “Enterprising Young Men” 2:39
6 “Nero Sighted” 3:23
7 “Nice to Meld You” 3:13
8 “Run and Shoot Offense” 2:04
9 “Does It Still McFly?” 2:03
10 “Nero Death Experience” 5:38
11 “Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns” 2:34
12 “Back from Black” 0:59
13 “That New Car Smell” 4:46
14 “To Boldly Go” 0:26
15 “End Credits” 9:11

Total Length: app. 45 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

Note: I know that all of these positive reviews may be tiresome, but all of these scores are being chosen from my personal collection at the moment, so why would I own anything that I dislike? Eventually, as the number of albums left to review thins out, I’ll experiment more with what I purchase, so, hopefully, my review ratings will vary more. Thanks for your patience!