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)


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


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


Unsquare Dance


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


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.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword-Movie Man Jackson

Hear ye, hear ye. Born in a brothel, the streets of Londinium has become home for young Arthur. The streets have molded him into a tough, confident, yet still honest individual who does the right thing more than not. Now older, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) gets by as a Robin Hood-esque character of sorts, providing for his hometown what they need and dispensing justice where applicable.

One particular incident puts Arthur in the path of King Vortigern (Jude Law), who has ascended to the throne via treacherous means. Knowing of Arthur’s royal lineage (unbeknownst to Arthur, he’s the son of the deceased king Uther (Eric Bana)), Vortigern looks to exterminate him. Wanting no part of this, Arthur so wishes to go back to his normal life, but he who has the strength to draw the fabled sword Excalibur from the stone must use it, and topple Vortigern once and for all.

Unless you’re The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, medieval/Middle Age/mythology movies and productions have a tough go at drawing audiences to the theaters, at least here in America. From a critical perspective, they might as well be poison in most cases now (see Seventh Son, Clash of the Titans, Warcraft), with people often making up their minds as to the actual quality of them and refusing to be wavered in thinking anything different. Most aren’t great, but every now and then the genre is fresh enough to deliver some legitimate fun. Enter the latest telling of King Arthur. By no means amazing, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ends up being, all in all, an energetic summer movie.

Holding the directorial sword in King Arthur rebooted is Guy Ritche. Ritchie is an individual who brings a noticeable imprint to any movie he does, and that doesn’t really change here. Expect a whizzing, hyperactive camera to intercut whenever characters deliver exposition, or give context to (what is supposed to be) pertinent information. It isn’t nearly as funny as Ritchie thinks it is. This style doesn’t 100% work in the movie, but does keep the energy up, and sort of makes up for a story that can feel stretched at times, especially in the latter third before the climax.


However, from an action perspective, Ritchie’s style does work in the world that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is composed of. The 180 pans, stop-start shots, and the like just goes well with all of the magic and supernatural elements. Save for some questionable CGI near the end that stands out in a negative way, there’s a real sense of “epicness” that Guy brings to the proceedings in various scenes. But, the real MVP of Legend of the Sword may be composer Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs), who creates a standout score that goes against sonic genre type and truly elevates the film.

Only two characters really receive proper attention and development in this King Arthur fable. Of course, one is the titular character portrayed by Charlie Hunnam. Arthur is a little more grittier and less proper in this retelling, and Hunnan is the perfect fit, providing physicality yet everyman likability to make a character worth rooting for. His opposition is played by Jude Law, clearing having a good time while getting some scenes to showcase his range and flesh out his despicable king.

As the supporting cast goes, the enigmatic Mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) is the most intriguing individual; there’s a lot of potential with her if future movies come to fruition. Unfortunately, most who make up the fabled knights of the roundtable come off as generic spacefillers, even Djimon Hounsou. At least he’s not playing a secondary antagonist like he’s been doing as of late (Furious 7, Seventh Son, The Legend of Tarzan).

After the financial performance of King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, it may be long time until the sword is removed from the stone again. Though far from perfect, it’s a shame. I for one, wouldn’t mind seeing another Excalibur stab taken at expanding this tale.


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Movie Man Jackson Looks at: 2015 Music in Movies (Part 5)

Back with Part 5 of the year-end series. If you missed Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, you can see those herehere here, and here. Now, onto the selections!

Bridge of Spies (composed by Thomas Newman)


Standing Man



Besides the news that Spielberg and Hanks were marrying their talents once again in a movie, the next biggest news surrounding Bridge of Spies may have been the fact that legendary composer and frequent Spielberg collaborator John Williams would not be composing Spielberg’s movie. To this date, Williams has scored all of Steven’s work, expect for The Color Purple and this.

While it is interesting to think about how Bridge of Spies‘ score would have sounded with Williams at the helm, I believe Newman does a great job of painting the respective scenes with the right tone without the sound being so in-your-face. Take Standing Man, for example, with its American idealistic feel, or Rain, with its shady and deliberate sound. And the rich-sounding end track of Homecoming is one that could be a little forced in other lesser movies, but when it is heard, the audience feels as if they’ve just returned from a long, foreign journey like Jim Donovan has. It’s a earned moment.

Steve Jobs (composed by Daniel Pemberton)


 It’s Not Working

Change the World


I Wrote Ticket to Ride

The New Mac 

In lockstep with the three act screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin and the directorial aesthetic Danny Boyle employs, the score to Steve Jobs circa 2015 is divided up into three parts: 1984 (computer synths/analog), 1988 (classical opera), and 1998 (digital).

The tracks are not only representative of the stamps in time, but also what Jobs and, to some extent others, are feeling in the respective act. Pemberton score captures what technology can do in a positive fashion, and a negative fashion. At times, the score is inspiring, filled with genius and ideas like Steve. Other times, it is somber, downtrodden, and frosty, also like Steve could be. Sure, the script may be more loosely based than what most people prefer out of biopics, but I believe it sets out what Boyle was aiming for, “…an action movie with words.” A lot of care was put into making sure the right score and effects were used.

The Peanuts Movie (score composed by Christophe Beck, soundtrack by various artists)


Better When I’m Dancing

Good Ol’ Charlie Brown


You can’t tinker with stuff that has been around for what amounts to the beginning of time. Exaggeration withstanding, Peanuts has been around for a while, and too much messing around with something as established as Schulz’s work could have made a lot of people upset.

Everything in The Peanuts Movie is safe, cute, and not much more than that. But, it is charming (that Meghan Trainor song is irresistible), and Christophe Beck does well with keeping old themes yet jazzing them up just enough to make them modern.

Spectre (composed by Thomas Newman)


Los Muertos Vivos Estan

Spectre may be no Casino Royale or Skyfall, but there seems to be a consensus that the opening scene is one of the best openers in the series, and it is hard to disagree. From the gorgeous tracking shot to the music, which gives pieces of the classic Bond theme while mixing native Mariachi sounds. Love, love, love it.


Westminster Bridge

If there’s one criticism about Spectre‘s score, it’s that many believe it to sound too much like Skyfall’s, and essentially, it kind of is with it being a direct follow to that previous film. Many of the prior motifs and ideas are lifted, and while it isn’t all that new (like Spectre‘s story), why ruin a good thing, at least when it comes to the music? There’s a certain sound that is to be expected with 007, and unless the film is serving as an intentional reboot with a different theme (à la Casino Royale), I’m not of the opinion that it is necessarily a bad thing for Bond to sound the same, musically. Lazy? Maybe a little, but not a complete fail. Would love to see some new blood scoring the next film, however,

 Brooklyn (composed by Michael Brook)


Packing for the Voyage

The Pull of Home

Goodbye Ellis

Michael Brook…scoring Brooklyn. On its own, Brooklyn doesn’t sound like nothing all that special, but in the film, Brook is able to strike the delicate balance of making the scenes moving, but not overly so to the point of eye-rolling sappiness. And subtly, there’s a nice distinction in the instrumentation between the scenes that take place in America, and those in Ireland. It all amounts to an old fashioned, homely feel of a motion picture score.

Creed (Soundtrack by various artists, Score composed by Ludwig Goransson)


Don’t Waste My Time (performed by Krept and Konan)

The Fire (performed by The Roots and John Legend)

Wake Up Everybody (performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes)

Creed‘s soundtrack may be a little of a mixed bag for some, especially if hip hop isn’t a preferred genre. But, I do find it cool that it has a Philadelphia theme to it, as many of the artists that appear on it, from Meek Mill to Harold Melvin are all Brotherly Love natives. Some of the more unique cuts are performed by Tessa Thompson, who gives a great performance in the movie as Bianca while adding to her character’s musical aspirations. And the fighter’s entrances are absolutely stunning, with Makaveli/2pac’s Hail Mary and Don’t Waste my Time playing during them. Why couldn’t Pacquiao/Mayweather produce this awesomeness?

Front Street Gym

The Sporino Fight

If I Fight, You Fight (Training Montage)

Conlan Fight

You Can See the Whole Town from Here

A little miffed at the YouTube quality (definitely seems to be down a pitch or two), but what is posted here is still high-quality stuff. I was not expecting Creed to be such a great film, or the pure theater experience that it is. I’ve seen it twice now, and even contemplating going a third time for that aspect alone. It will still be great on Blu-Ray, but not the same great as watching on the silver screen.

That feeling exists for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is the score that Ludwig Goransson has created. Again reuniting with Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, he bobs and weaves through emotional scenes that don’t feel hokey and hearken back to the old sounds of the first few Rocky movies, while punctuating ring scenes that are gladiatorial and so titanic. Despite using bits and pieces from previous entries (and rightfully so), Goransson uses those cues in the right places, but never to the point of complete laziness. Even with all of the more heralded big and bold films this year, which are great in their own rights, I’m not sure if I felt the pure energy surge that rushed through the body like Creed gives at times.

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One more part to go!

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