Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 3)

And the beat goes on. Part 3 of the Music in Movies series continues. If you missed parts 1 and two, they’re available here and here. Let’s do it.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (composed by Daniel Pemberton)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Growing Up Londonium

The Legend of Excalibur

The Darklands

The Devil and The Huntsman

This isn’t your father’s, grandfather’s, or great-grandfather’s King Arthur. Legend of the Sword is covered with Guy Ritchie-ness, a stylized re-imagining of the titular hero in an unkempt, street-wise, roughened way. Composer Daniel Pemberton goes a little against expectations sonically here. Powerful drums and breath patterns create one of the more lively musical tracks of the entire year in Growing Up Londinium, a montage of King Arthur growing up in 2:42. The Darklands sees our hero face his inner demons all while fighting sinister mythical beings.

There’s a noticeable epic, rustic, fantastical, Viking/Celtic feel with much of the music that works as an infinitely replayable standalone listen (or accompaniment to a workout, I can attest with experience firsthand), and within the movie itself. Honestly, it’s everything I could want from a King Arthur musical score without realizing it. King Arthur isn’t a movie I expected to enjoy, but count me in the minority of the few who did, and Daniel Pemberton played a part in making it so.

 Wonder Woman (composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams)

No Man’s Land

Wonder Woman’s Wrath

Since she was introduced in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I’ve been infatuated with Wonder Woman‘s theme. With the wailing electric guitar, powerful bass drum and powerful bass drum, it gets across Diana’s impressive strength both internally and externally. But, what’s great about it is that the theme also carries a sense of beauty, compassion, and honesty. All themes found throughout the movie and put in nicely into this lush score by Rupert Gregson-Williams.

The Mummy (composed by Brian Tyler)

Prodigium

It’s very fitting that the best track on The Mummy’s score is attached to the best moments of the film itself. Brian Tyler’s Prodigium is everything The Mummy should have been. Mysterious, classical, full of intrigue. Most importantly, the piece sounds dark and otherworldly. If we get more of this in any Dr. Jekkyl/Mr. Hyde film, I’ll be happy.

It Comes At Night (composed by Brian McOmber)

Close Your Eyes

Sores

The Triumph of Death

Paul’s Regret

Coming in at a brief 41 minutes, the score for It Comes At Night by Brian McOmber doesn’t stand out as much as it sits under the surface, lingers on the walls, in the air, etc. Paranoia is the name of the game in the film, and when is paranoia ever loud and blaring? The score mimics this, the presence felt but never overbearing.

Baby Driver (soundtrack by various artists)

Harlem Shuffle

Smokey Joe’s La La

B-A-B-Y

Unsquare Dance

Debra

Chase Me

I probably can’t say anything more about the way music is used in Baby Driver that hasn’t been said already. Every now and then it gets to the point of feeling gimmicky, but by and large, Baby Driver is a unique viewing experience fueled by a eclectic and diverse soundtrack that runs the entire gamut of musical genres. It’s as much of an auditory experience as it is a visual one.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (composed by Michael Giacchino)

The World is Changing

Academic Decommitment

A Stark Contrast

Despite having tinges of The Avengers‘ theme, Michael Giacchino’s Spidey: Homecoming score is decidedly more low-scale and even whimsical at times. Take Academic Decommitment for example (Michael G always one with the track puns). It’s breezy and kind of quirky. The approach taken doesn’t really make for a memorable score, but I’m sure it’s not supposed to be.

War for the Planet of the Apes (composed by Michael Giacchino)

Apes Past is Prologue

Assault of the Earth

The work Giacchino puts into War for the Planet of the Apes couldn’t be more different than the tracks he made for Homecoming, and those movies were released a week apart from each other! Large parts of War for Apes are told with minimal dialogue, if any. As such, Giacchino’s beautiful music plays a massive part in the feature.

His approach starts early with Apes Past is Prologue and Assault of the Earth, painting the picture early of the high level of stakes this war between humans and apes carries.

Exodus Wounds

The Posse Polonaise

These tracks segue way into the two above. Giacchino makes War for Apes something of a processional with its main motif. There’s grace in this score…

A Tide in the Affair of Apes

The Ecstasy of the Bold 

but also a ton of loss and despair.

Apes Together Strong

Migration

Paradise Found

Michael G closes the trilogy of apes with two emotional sledgehammers of tracks. Paradise Found is the perfect wrap up to everything we’ve witnessed as an audience through the three movies. It was a long and emotional ride, but one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Here’s to hoping Giacchino’s work gets some rightful appreciation come awards season.

Photo credits go to Youtube.com, music.allaccess.com, universalmonstersuniverse.com, genius.com, filmobsession.com, and variety.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

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Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 2)

 

Part 2 already? Part 2. Welcome back to another entry that deals with the music behind the feature films. If you missed Part 1, you can find that here. Part 2? Let’s do it.

Beauty and the Beast (soundtrack by various artists, score composed by Alan Menken)\

Belle 

Gaston

Beauty and the Beast

The Beast

Transformations

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the feeling when hearing Alan Menken on 2017’s Beauty and the Beast live-action movie. With just a handful of new tracks, this largely qualifies as a remastering along with a few slight tweaks of his previous work found the 1991 animated offering, which happened to win Best Original Score and Best Original Song in its respective year. The Beast and Transformations still carry the same richness as before.

Even the live songs are surprisingly good-quality (with a tad of technology help, but still), especially for actors and actresses not known for singing voices. Props are given to Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, and Josh Gad (Josh Gad!) for making the musical numbers very listenable in and outside of the movie.

Power Rangers (composed by Brian Tyler)

Power Rangers Theme

Confessions

United

Let’s Ride

Go Go Power Rangers

Outside of Michael Giacchino and Hans Zimmer, there may not be a bigger name composer than Brian Tyler, lending his talents to many blockbuster franchises including many Marvel films, the Fast franchise, Now You See Me, and more.

Tasked with providing the music to the rebooted Power Rangers franchise, Tyler opts for a slightly grounded approach in this department. And it makes sense in the movie; the characters take center stage for quite a bit before any real action setpieces come to fruition. Tracks like United and Confessions hit at this idea of responsibility and everyday heroism.

But Tyler does deliver on a standout theme heard first in the plainly titled Power Rangers Theme and intersperses that throughout. It’s a theme befitting of characters uniting for something bigger than themselves. He rightfully holds off on the iconic “Go Go Power Rangers” sound until a brief snippet is heard in Let’s Ride and finally at the end in full.

Life (composed by Jon Ekstrand)

Welcome to the ISS

Life isn’t a wholly unique space movie, but what is when it comes to space movies nowadays? Composer Jon Ekstrand plays with two ideas here The 1st idea is that of wonder, exploration, and stumbling upon something no one person truly knows about. The rich and full sounds in Welcome to the ISS and It’s Alive invoke a feeling of bold discovery, not unlike something one may find in Star Trek, or better yet, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Thrusters

Godspeed, Doctor

I Thought They Came to Rescue Us

The 2nd idea is manifested through the above tracks. It’s the idea that humans are so captivated by finding extraterrestrial life that we could lose ours in the process. In other words, it plays our like pure vicious horror with bellowing brass and stalker-like electric sounds. Feels in line with something out of that old Ridley Scott classic and the video game series Dead Space.

Godspeed, Doctor

A Long Way Back

Life ends with Godspeed, Doctor, a heroic track inspiring sacrifice for the greater good, and A Long Way Back, a twisted, uncomfortable listen that drives home the sinister denouement. It’s got a lot in common with Johann Johannson’s Sicario track of The Beast: 

But if you’re ripping, rip from the best! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The Fate of the Furious (composed by Brian Tyler)

Nobody’s Intel

Rogue

Confluence

From small-scaled street racing matters to global escapades, The Fast and the Furious universe has obviously transformed itself in 16 years. And the same can be said for the music, once reliant more on licensed music than actual score tracks. Since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, composer Brian Tyler has been just as much a part of the transformation as say, Vin Diesel or Justin Lin, scoring every film except for Fast and Furious 6.

Since Fast & Furious 2009, Tyler’s been able to craft elaborate songs for the series’ biggest set-pieces. But I’ve always found myself most pleased with his smaller, sometimes character specific numbers, such as Letty from 2009, The Perfect Crew , Hobbs, Tapping Inand Full Circle from Fast Five, and Vow for Revenge and Farewell from Furious 7. The same goes for F8 tracks like the above.

Welcome to the Club

But it’s the theme melding in Tyler’s Welcome to the Club that stands out as the movie’s best musical moment. Played when Hobbs is entering his cell the first time and becomes reacquainted with Deckard, it serves as perfect representations of each character. Hobbs being brash and tank-like, Deckard being more minimalist and subdued but no less dangerous. Let’s hope we hear this again in their spinoff.

How to be a Latin Lover (soundtrack by various artists)

Los Felegreses (performed by Jungle Fire)

The group Jungle Fire contributes a couple of pieces that are merely meant to accompany How to Be a Latin Lover in a toe-tapping, head-nodding fashion. The music is nothing to provoke any emotion (most music in comedies rarely do), but the piece above does have a nice, sunny, tropical vibe.

Free Fire (composed by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury)

Money Count

Crawl Chase

The Phone Rings

The talented duo, who came into popularity by providing the musical accompaniment to the thought-provoking Ex Machina and Black Mirror, join forces again for Free Fire. 

Free Fire is far less ambitious than the prior two works Barrow and Salisbury contributed to. But, they do a nice job of accompanying the various moments in this prolonged setpiece. The eccentric music cuts are fitting for an eccentric movie, and are not unlike something one would hear on the radio during the time period in which the events of the movie take place.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (composed by Tyler Bates)

Space Chase

Space Chase is the track that feels so Guardians, a manic trip through the entire galaxy by this fivesome of antiheroes with danger on their tails. It’s one of the few “big tracks” in the score by Tyler Bates. Vol 2 does go more for the emotional feels than the superficial ones.

Family History

Gods

Photo credits go to wearemoviegeeks.com, consequenceofsound.net, collider.com, thestar.com, filmmusicreporter.com, and soundtracktracklist.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.com.

 

 

 

Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 1)

Already time to do this again? This series doesn’t get that much time off…or at least it’s intended to not have that much time off!

For those unaware of what this feature, now four years old, is all about, think of it as a spotlight on some of the better musical pieces I personally found in films that I viewed during the year that were released in 2017. Don’t consider this a ranking (I’ll sometimes list my favorites scores at the end of the yearly series), but again, just a series to give some attention to some musical work I found to be compelling, catchy, mesmerizing, all of the above, etc., in said films.

Don’t consider this a comprehensive list, either. I try to see everything I can, but of course, a big film (or two or three) with a killer score may not always be found here, not because I don’t like its music, but because I simply didn’t watch the film. In my opinion,  I cannot honestly blurb about what I liked/felt about the song chosen without watching the actual film—kind of like watching a film! Context is important! Feel free to let me know in the comments sections as to what I need to listen to and what, if anything, I got right.

A few short-ish notes:

  • This series isn’t my thoughts on movies, though an extremely brief feeling on said movie may be found. As such, the occasional spoiler may be found in my thoughts on the scores/tracks on it, though I’ll do my best not to refrain from doing so. Also, some track names bluntly make reference to specific parts in the movie, keep that in mind.
  • All of the songs I’ve selected appear in their respected movie. Some movies will have the official motion picture soundtrack as well as the score. The score will (almost) always appear in the movie, whereas the soundtrack may appear here and there. Which leads me to the next point…
  • Generally, the songs I have selected are from their respective scores. But, there are a few selections I’ve chosen from the soundtrack, if applicable, because said song adds to the movie immensely.
  • I will try to link to every musical piece via Spotify. Best quality, and the music is legitimately able to be there with no copyright issue. But for some reason, if I can only access via YouTube/Soundcloud, I’ll link to there. I obviously have no control over what does and doesn’t get removed.
  • I’m no musical whiz, nor know every exact instrument (though I do still play the trumpet from time to time :)), I just try to highlight what I really enjoy about the featured selection/selections, sometimes grouped and looked at more collectively than individually. Just depends.
  • I’ve tried to start at the beginning of the year and work through it, though there may be the occasional film that I finally got around to listening to (after watching the movie) that makes its appearance later in the series.

Make sense? Let’s get those ears warm!

Split (composed by West Dylan Thordson)

Opening

A Way Out

Meeting the Others

Arrival

The Beast is on the Move

I wouldn’t expect a cohesive score for a move based on the premise of an individual having 24 distinct personalities (though we only see about 3-5 in the movie). But the fragments we do get, put together by West Dylan Thorsdon, seem to take inspiration from fellow psychological thrillers such as Psycho. The sense of dread and curiosity is thick in tracks like Arrival and Meeting the Others.

But the motif I won’t forget anytime soon is the one found in Opening and The Beast is on the Move. Its distorted-yet-full-sounding strings evoke the sound of a ravenous beast, hungry and ready to feed after a long hibernation. Truly terrifying, whether hearing in headphones or in the seat of a dark theater.

The Comedian (composed by Terence Blanchard)

Jackie In The Rain

Jackie’s Lament

The music in The Comedian is good, easy listening for jazz aficionados (like myself). Nothing extraordinary that raises the movie to extra heights, but it’s more than passable as a standalone listen, especially because the movie is average at best, coming from a guy who was a little easier on it than others.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (composed by Tyler Bates)

Santino 

Razor Bath

The score of John Wick’s 2nd chapter sees Tyler Bates return to compose. This time around, Wick doing business in Rome allows Bates to infuse more strings and classical elements to this sound. In tracks like Razor Bath and Santino, they carry an air of significant darkness, even horror (the 2nd chapter of Wick feels very gothic at times).

Suit Maps and Guns

La Vendetta

Plastic Heart

John Wick Reckoning

Bates re-uses the Story of Wick theme that he established in the first John Wick for the title character in Chapter 2. The theme, now synonymous with Wick, still comes to define the character as methodical, driven, and a guy you simply do not want to cross paths with. John Wick Reckoning plays at the end of Wick’s journey, with a swelling and faint siren that seems to foreshadow what’s to come in Chapter 3. The world may be after him, but he’ll kill them all if he has to.

John Wick Mode (composed by Le Castle Vania)

But, it wouldn’t be a John Wick movie without an explosive, kinetic club track by Le Castle Vania, once again punctuating the many headshots and acrobatics Baba Yaga pulls off in succession, the gunplay often matching the pulses and drops of the beat. A symphony of violence needs music to go along with it, right?

The Lego Batman Movie (score composed by Lorne Balfe, original songs by various artists)

Who’s The (Bat)Man? (performed by Patrick Stump)

If I had to explain to someone who had never heard of the character of the Batman before, I wouldn’t. I’d just play this song for them. The power guitar signifies the gruffness of the popular hero, and the lyrics summarize The Caped Crusader perfectly, while also poking fun at some of the longstanding origins and traits of the character.

Black

Your Greatest Enemy

Battle Royale

A Long Farewell

Lorne Balfe takes musical inspiration from arguably the two most memorable iterations of Batman (Christopher Nolan/Hans Zimmer, and 1960/Billy May). Combining the two styles of Zimmer’s richer sound and May’s lighter, oddball sound seems to be the theme throughout, with an angsty electric guitar used liberally (Mad Max: Fury Road seems to be an inspiration as well). It all equates to a fun listen that pays tribute to while also lampooning its titular character.

Get Out (composed by Michael Abels, Timothy Williams contributing)

Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga

One doesn’t have to be able to understand Swahili to know that the lyrics in Sikiliza Wwa Wahenga, set to the opening credits of Get Out, forecast imminent doom on the horizon. The African vocals, introduced here and heard in other tracks throughout the score, add urgency and unease. What do the vocals mean, specifically? They more or less can be summed up by the film’s title, telling the lead character to run, listen to the truth, and save yourself.

The Deer

Hypnosis

Garden Party

The Auction

Rod’s Bing Search

I can’t recall the last time the harp served as a relative lynchpin for a musical score, but Michael Abels puts the instrument at the forefront of many of his musical ideas in Get Out. The harp has a very soothing and…hypnotic sound that plays on the mind and gets under the skin. It lingers. Seemingly composed from the lead character’s perspective, it makes you think about things you don’t want to think about, or are forced to think about, which of course is something lead character Chris finds himself present to throughout.

Logan (composed by Marco Beltrami)

Main Titles 

Farm Aid

It was as I heard the Main Titles piano piece that I knew Logan was going to be a somber ordeal. Marco Beltrami’s approach to the material lets the visuals and the characters speak for themselves; painting a bleak picture set in the dusty West. Even the musical pieces that punctuate the action scenes, like Farm Aid, feel restrained compared to other action movies. It’s not a score that stands out, because it seems designed to not be as such.

Kong: Skull Island (composed by Henry Jackman)

Project Monarch

I’m just going to leave this video here:

This is a user-created video, showcasing the opening credits music for Kong: Skull Island set to 2014’s Godzilla. The opening credit music from Godzilla is below.

They’re not completely similar pieces, but both do a great job of introducing their main characters with tons of boldness and reverence, and each plays to a backdrop that sort of serves as pseudo-history lesson to the monsters’ origins. I’d love to see Godzilla’s Theme set to Skull Island’s opening credits just to see how it comes off.

Kong the Destroyer

It doesn’t take too long into the runtime to see Mr. Kong in full, his presence announced with Kong: The Destroyer. This is the type of track wanted as the giant ape causes massive collateral damage in an effort to protect his home. Every bit of the orchestra is used, from deep strings, to a tight snare, and bellowing brass.

Monsters Exist

Spider Attack

Man vs Beast

Clear as day that once Skull Island, a movie taking place in the 70’s, sends its expedition team to the jungle that there would be a little bit of the 70’s sound thrown in for setting. The obvious 70’s songs are present, but so are the sounds that fight into movies that Kong: Skull Island fancies itself as (not 100% successfully, but Apocalypse Now being one clear inspiration). The wallowing electric guitar, the ideas and cues the represent the unforeseen—and in your face—dangers of the jungle (Monsters Exist, Spider Attack). Little of it works standalone, but in the course of the movie, it does.

Photo credits go to denofgeek.com, decaymag.com, bluenote.com, tylerbates.com, billboard.com, and blastmagazine.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson