Category Archives: Soundtrack Reviews

Soundtrack Review: Elysium

51VvfbkXnQL._SL500_AA280_Elysium
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Composer: Ryan Amon
Running Time: 1 hr. 11 min.
Released: 2013
Opinon Stars: ★★★★★

I was less than impressed with Neil Blomkamp’s sophomore effort, Elysium. I had higher hopes for it than I had for any other film of the summer, and instead of delivering as promised, it lost the package en route – and heck, the driver didn’t even apologize. Disappointing? Just imagine biting into a cream-filled donut, only to discover that the cream is actually sour cream. Yeah, it was kind of like that. But… I’m not here to talk about the movie. I’m here to talk about Ryan Amon’s score. Because it’s a beaut. Next to Zimmer’s Man of Steel, I’d call it the finest soundtrack of 2013, and frankly, I think it deserves an Oscar nod (it won’t get one; the things I admire never do). Amon brings Elysium‘s science fictional world to life just as effectively as Clinton Shorter did for District 9 – meaning this is one very weird, very gritty, very detailed, and very intelligent piece of film scoring. Bottom line? This is a must-have for any serious sci-fi movie music aficionado. Buckle up. You may just get knocked out of your seat.

Standout Tracks:
– Fire Up the Shuttle
– Zero Injuries Sustained
– You Have No Idea
– The Raven
– Heading to Elysium
– Kruger Suits Up
– Elysium
– New Heaven, New Earth

Soundtrack Review: Man Of Steel

610uHjOqRGL._SL500_AA280_Man Of Steel
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Deluxe Edition]
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.
Released: 2013
Opinon Stars: ★★★★★

I know you probably get tired of hearing me say this, but it’s the truth: Hans Florian Zimmer is a flipping music wizard. Seriously. He’s one of the best there is at what he does, and on a scale of one to ten with regard to Sheer Epic Magnificence, his latest work – Man Of Steel – is a rock solid eleven. Emotion, grit, and grandeur collide in superheroic measures for nearly two hours; if that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. You want heart? Here you go. You want excitement? Gotcha covered. A robust and memorable theme worthy of the Last Son of Krypton? It’s right here. As one fellow put it,

MARVEL: “We have a Hulk.”
DC: “We have Hans Zimmer.”

Standout Tracks:
– DNA
– Goodbye My Son
– If You Love These People
– Terraforming
– This Is Clark Kent
– Flight
– What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?
– Man Of Steel (Hans’ Original Sketchbook)
– General Zod
– This Is Madness!
– Arcade

A postscript, as my attempt to answer some questions you might possibly have:

Q. “How does it compare to John Williams’ score for the original Superman?”
A. I think I’ve decided it’s unfair to compare the two. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Williams’ work there, but it fit Donner’s style well enough. Zimmer’s take is darker and more muscular, and if the previews we’ve seen are any indication, that’s precisely the kind of score Man Of Steel needs.

Q. “Does it sound like a rehash of The Dark Knight scores?”
A. No. Absolutely not. It sounds like Zimmer, of course – if you’re a hater, get lost – but there’s very little similarity between this and his other work for the DC Universe. One major difference is that Man Of Steel sounds far more enthusiastic and hopeful overall – which is good, since an uber-intense and moody score wouldn’t work for Supes the way it does for Bats.

Q. “Is the Deluxe Edition worth the extra moolah?”
A. Heck yes. You get half an hour’s worth of extra music. Do it.

Soundtrack Review: Oblivion

Oblivion-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack-260x260Oblivion
(Original Film Soundtrack) [Deluxe Edition]
Composers: M83, A. Gonzales, J. Trapanese
Running Time: 108 min.
Released: 2013
Opinon Stars: ★★★★☆

Judging from the trailers and clips that have been released over the past few months, Oblivion has the makings of a terrific sci-fi film. My hopes for it are high, and they’re even higher now that I’ve listened to the soundtrack. Comparisons the Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score are perhaps inevitable, but Oblivion is a strong work in its own right, and it manages to bring more than to table than just catchy techno beats. There’s depth here, too; as grand and exciting as many of the cues are, this score really shines during its quiet moments. My only complaint (and the reason I’m withholding a star) has to do with the fact that M83’s signature sound doesn’t make a more prominent appearance. If you’re a fan of “Outro” or other M83 classics, as I am, then you’ll probably be disappointed, too. Don’t let that deter you from adding Oblivion to your library, however: it has plenty of good stuff to offer (particularly in its latter half), and if you’re looking for the first great soundtrack of 2013, I’d say you’ve found it.

Standout Tracks:
– Waking Up
– StarWaves
– Earth 2077
– Canyon Battle
– Raven Rock
– Temples of Our Gods
– Fearful Odds
– Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør)

If you’re wondering whether the Deluxe Edition is worth the extra three bucks, the answer is yes. Absolutely yes. It’s currently only available on iTunes, but $12.99 for nearly two hours of music is a steal.

Soundtrack Review: Dredd

4161WclbY1L._SL500_AA280_Dredd
(Original Film Soundtrack)
Composer: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Running Time: 51 min.
Released: 2012
Opinon Stars: ★★★★

If Ramin Djawadi’s Iron Man soundtrack were married to the Daft Punkian techno of Tron: Legacy, their child would probably sound something like Dredd. Which is to say: slick, hard-hitting, and very, very cool. It’s a knockout. I haven’t seen the film yet – it’s rather popular on Netflix and therefore hard to get – but I’ve no doubt the score fits it as snugly as a bullet casing. (Watch the trailer and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.) The fusion of rocking action cues with brooding electronic soundscapes works beautifully here. Final result? The kind of music that makes even dishwashing seem like an epic task.

Standout tracks:
– She’s a Pass
– Mega City One
– The Plan
– Mini-Guns
– Order In the Chaos
– Taking Over Peach Trees
– Apocalyptic Wasteland

“I wanted to create a really gritty, urban score for the film, not a typical Hollywood, glossy score. I pictured a sound which fitted a future set in 100 years time, so traditional orchestra went out the window.” ReelScotland recently conducted an interview with Paul Leonard-Morgan; you can read it here.

Soundtrack Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

61n3C87jK4L._SL500_AA300_ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Composer: Howard Shore
Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.
Released: 2012
Opinon Stars: ★★★★★

Howard Shore has done it again, folks. Did we ever really fear that he wouldn’t? Bilbo’s journey might be unexpected, but the magnificence of this score is not. Shore’s work for The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered him three Oscar nominations and two wins, and I’ll be shocked if The Hobbit doesn’t get him a third. The music of Middle Earth lives on, and I must say, it’s wonderful to hear it again. 2012 has been an outstanding year for film scores, but this one stands head-and-shoulders above them all.

Standout Tracks:
– My Dear Frodo
– Misty Mountains (feat. The Dwarf Cast & Richard Armitage)
– The Adventure Begins
– An Ancient Enemy
– Warg-Scouts
– A Thunder Battle
– Out of the Frying Pan
A Good Omen

The score also features Neil Finn’s Song of the Lonely Mountain. There are no words to describe the pure and utter awesomeness of it.