Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 5)


Where words fail, music speaks. Part 5 of the yearly Music in Movies series continues. If you missed parts one, two, three, and four, they’re available here , here, here,  and here. Dive in.

IT (composed by Benjamin Wallfisch)

Every 27 Years

Georgie, Meet Pennywise



Blood Oath

Makes perfect sense that a good chunk of the score of IT is appropriately child-like. This can be heard in its nursery-like chants and what-not, but also in its piano keys and moderately sized orchestra. Songs like Derry and Blood Oath evoke true senses of childlike wonder and exploration, absent of fear and dread. IT is just as much of a coming of age story as it is a full-on horror.

But the horror cues and sounds are present, none creepier than Slideshow, perhaps the most unnerving sequence of the entire movie. The overall sound of IT is reminiscent in a way to the score of the Dead Space games, those games dealing a lot with isolation in space. While IT has nothing to do with space and it is obviously much more ensemble-driven narrative-wise than Dead Space, there is an element of isolation and the fear each youngster has that can only be confronted when in a group. It’s a great score.

Stronger (composed by Michael Brook)



Part of the reason Stronger is so great is because it doesn’t fall into the overly sappy and forced emotion and narrative script so many other similar films do. The score composed by Michael Brook is an extension of this, never feeling too in-your-ear bombarding the eardrums and saying how the viewer should feel. It makes for an understated score, one that doesn’t necessarily make for a great listen outside of the movie, but still worth some recognition.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson)

Eggsy is Back



The Gondola Experience 

No Time for Emotion

Kingsman Hoedown

Henry Jackson and Matthew Margeson come back to helm the music that fills the circle that is Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Once again, their main motif, beginning with Eggsy is Back and continuing throughout, comes to define the series in its regal yet chaotic feeling. This time however, there’s a mashup with the more western, county-folk like aspect featuring the Statesman in a few cues. But the best musical moments are that of No Time for Emotion and Poppy, the former garnering the most emotion in the movie, and the latter playing as a cute yet dark introduction to the one-note lead villain.

Blade Runner 2049 (composed by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer)


Who does a director go to to recreate a score when one of the best—if not the best—composer today isn’t cutting it? Hans Zimmer, with substantial help from up-and-comer Benjamin Wallfisch, of course. The pair were tagged to replace the excellent Jóhann Jóhannsson and keep the legacy of the original’s music that was laid by Vangelis.

They’ve done a great job. Starting immediately with the apt 2049, filling the screen with immense moodiness and spectacle. It’s impossible not to get sucked in.

Flight to LAPD



Sea Wall

Tears in the Rain

I strongly believe that a Jóhannsson-helmed Blade Runner 2049 score would outdo what Zimmer and Wallfisch managed to do here (re-listen to Sicario and Arrival for proof). There’s another layer of atmosphere that the duo lack, but still, cuts such as Sea Wall and Furnace and the rest of the above paint a wonderful sonic picture of a future maybe not completely far off from ours, a future with potential but rife with mystery and fear of the unknown. Tears in the Rain leaves us with a little hope though, that as long has humanity has purpose, we’re on the right track.

Marshall (composed by Marcus Miller, contributions by various artists)

YMCA Swing

Marshall Meets Sam

Marshall V. Friedman

More background filler than true story aid, still the score for Marshall is a solid accompaniment to the on-screen court matters and builds the time period it takes place in. The jazz-heavy score, sometimes light swing, occasionally bebop, and every now and then blues and more classical tracks, isn’t an listen that is unforgettable but it is a chill, smooth one.

Thor: Ragnarok (composed by Mark Mothersbaugh)

Thor: Ragnarok

Where Am I?

No One Escapes

Arena Fight

Planet Sakaar

A new approach to the God of Thunder demanded a different sound. Granted, the score to Thor: Ragnarok isn’t a complete step in a bold new direction, but it is amazing what some 80’s synths and wah-wahs can do to accentuate a movie. It’s a fairly fun and irreverent movie with a score that doesn’t ask its audience to think much beyond that.

Murder on the Orient Express (composed by Patrick Doyle)

The Wailing Wall

Jaffa to Stamboul

Twelve Stab Wounds 


Murder on the Orient Express is a movie I’ll remember more for the throwback style and production values than anything else. The score crafted by Patrick Doyle is lush and beautiful in its traditional orchestral sounds mimicking the events on screen in lockstep. Justice in particular is one of the best standalone score of the entire movie year. Kind of does sound like a Clue movie come to life (which I know was actually made in 1985).

Hero’s Theme


Batman on the Roof

I like character themes. It’s a little bit of a shame, though, that we don’t get real definitive, standout ones in Justice League for the new heroes in Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman, but perhaps those will come during their own solo outings. Danny Elfman replaces the talented Junkie XL in this DC outing, and he’s probably a better fit, honestly. That’s no indictment of Holkenborg, who makes great epic music, but here and there, it can go into noise noise noise mode. What Elfman does here isn’t legendary, but, some rich, moody tracks and textures are built. I wonder if with a little more central focus on one character in the next go-rounds will make for more memorable scores.

Photo credits go to,,,,,,, and

Only one (possibly two) more installments to go!

Follow MMJ @MovieManJackson.



Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 4)

Please don’t stop the music. Part 4 of the yearly Music in Movies series continues. If you missed parts one, two, and three, they’re available here , here, and here. Let’s do it.

Dunkirk (composed by Hans Zimmer, with contributions by Benjamin Wallfisch, Lorne Balfe, Andrew Kawczynski, and Steve Mazzaro)

The Mole



Rag on the overkill volume levels all you want (seems to be a common occurrence in Nolan films), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Hans Zimmer (along with company this time) has made another memorable score in Dunkirk. Desperation and constantly swelling tension describes Dunkirk to a T. Starting with The Mole around the 2:30 mark, the sound that most will remember—Nolan’s ticking clock—signifies the delicacy that is time in this film. Zimmer’s work here is atmospheric and bleak. Yet, it’s the type of musical pieces one feels throughout their whole body. He’s made a score in which his music is easily a bigger character than anyone that appears in Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic.

Atomic Blonde (soundtrack by various artists, score composed by Tyler Bates)



Finding the UHF Device

Viewing Atomic Blonde is akin to watching a music video from the 80’s. There’s bold style, vivid colors, and little substance. But boy, can it be fun to look at and listen to! Most of the music appearing in the movie is licensed, anything from A Flock of Seagulls to a cover of “Blue Monday” by HEALTH, truly giving the film the 80’s authenticity it’s going for. But the few synth-heavy score cuts by Tyler Bates do the job as well, adding a shady and dangerous sounding vibe to the events on screen.

The Big Sick (composed by Michael Andrews)

Two Day Rule

The Big Sick is charming from the get go in all of its sweet awkwardness. I’d like to think this opener of a song, Two Day Rule, is a wonderful foreshadowing of what the resulting relationship will be. Quirky, refreshing, yet a little troubling, like a rainbow that emerges after a long thunderstorm. Really does set the tone for the rest of the movie.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (soundtrack by various artists, score by Atli Örvarsson)

Hitman’s Bodyguard

One of the Good Guys? 

If most of The Hitman’s Bodyguard was like the tracks posted above, maybe it would be a better movie? Atli Örvarsson’s le motif drawa upon a couple of genres in funk, gospel, classical, and jazz to create a loose and fun theme with a lot of swagger. He then tapers it down for what serves as the movie’s most somber and reflective moment in One of the Good Guys? Unfortunately, Örvarsson’s contributions here to the music are rather limited, taking a backseat to licensed music, but i wish they weren’t.

Wind River (composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis)

Snow Wolf


Meth House

Three Seasons in Wyoming

Memory Time

Wind River

Wind River is easily one of the more somber viewing experiences of 2017. Cold and uncompromising, the heavy-string score and soft keys chills down to the bone, not unlike a harsh winter. The occasional vocals sound like people crying out for help where there is none in the open West that is Wyoming. This is a score that is very introspective and haunting. I’ve never experienced loss like some of the characters in Wind River, but after listening to the score, I feel like I have.

Logan Lucky (soundtrack by various artists, score by David Holmes)

Original Score Medley

Hearing Original Score Medley from Logan Lucky makes me wish there were more actual score music in the film. The piece by David Holmes is that good and fun to listen to; eclectic, southern funky, and kind of grungy all in one with the electric guitar, church organs, drums, and underlying 808s. A shame, in my opinion, Steven Soderbergh’s longtime companion was relegated to only one track. Once again, can you tell I’m more of a score person than a soundtrack person?

Photo credits go to,,,,, and

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Movie Man Jackson Looks at: 2016 Music in Movies (Part 1)

Hey all! Trying something different this year with regards to this series. In staggering it out throughout the year, I hope to not have to rush right near the end of the year (though I actually wanted to get this installment out sooner—go figure!) For those unaware of what this feature 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 2016.

Don’t consider this a ranking, but again, just a series to give some attention to some musical work I found to be compelling, catchy, mesmerizing, 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 MMJ’s thoughts on movies, though an extremely brief feeling on said movie may be found.
  • 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, because said song adds to the movie immensely.
  • Not always, but some track names from the score directly reference specific points in the movie. So, there may be slight spoilers!
  • I will link to every musical piece, but I don’t control if and when the piece gets taken down from YouTube or SoundCloud😦
  • 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.
  • 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!

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (composed by Lorne Balfe)


Welcome to Benghazi

 Engage Direct

I find it refreshing that a Michael Bay direct movie, even one with a war setting, isn’t complete noise, and the same can be said for its score, done by Lorne Balfe (Penguins of Madagascar, Terminator: Genisys). Not to say that some tracks aren’t straight smatterings of sound, but the two posted above are the perfect combination of creating urgency and unease without hitting one over the head. I like these tracks better than some of the ones that accompany the all-out action frenzy in the second half and final third of the movie.


But boy, this track takes the cake as the crown jewel of this score. With its piano and steadily swelling, but not comically so, strings, it manages to be sad, reflective, hopeful, and heroic, all at once. Truly pays tribute to those men who were really done wrong by their higher-ups, yet still did the right thing when no one else was willing to.

Hail, Caesar! (Composed by Carter Burwell)


Hail, Caesar!

No Dames!

Hail, Caesar may not be all that entertaining or cohesive in regards from the actual heart/plot of its film, but its best moments occur during those full-on movie within a movie (within a movie?) scenes paying tribute to the 1950’s filmmaking process. The title track is wonderful in its mimicry of similar epics, obviously taking inspiration from Spartacus and Ben-Hur. As for No Dames!, I feel like I’m doing a disservice not posting the clip here, but it is a perfect re-creation of those musicial-heavy films of the 50’s. Even if everything is forgotten about Hail, Caesar, Channing Tatum’s song and dance routine won’t be anytime soon.

Deadpool (composed by Junkie XL)


Shoop (performed by Salt N Pepa)

Hearing Salt N Pepa’s classic irreverent and taboo (for its time) track in Deadpool’s 1st and 2nd trailer immediately put forth the idea that the resulting film was gonna be, well, irreverent and maybe even a little taboo in comparison to most superhero films. It’s nice that it made an appearance early in the feature, too. Hear “I wanna shoop” enough times and it sounds a lot like “I wanna shoot,” which is what Deadpool does a lot of.

Maximum Effort

12 Bullets

Watership Down

I feel like one of the hardest things to do in the first installment of a movie series is finding a theme that really announces the main character, characters, or world. It isn’t necessary, but it can only help, and can be a huge marketing tool if done right. Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL of Mad Max fame, finds a sound that really feels like the bizarre mental psyche that belongs to Wade Wilson. It’s funky, it’s menacing, its disjointing, and chaotic, but it is supposed to be. If you like the sounds that so many of those 80’s movies carried as well as a Michael Jackson influence, the Deadpool score is worth a listen.

Triple 9 (composed by Atticus Ross)


Ticking Glock

Heist #2

Eleven Fifty Nine

If Atticus Ross could put this good of a score together with what appeared to be some confusion as to the film’s sound and vision of director John Hillcoat, yours truly would love to see how the final product would have turned out if he was allowed more time and a better feel for it. Even with the troubles, I believe Ross gets a lot right in this synth-heavy score, especially the cuts above that play during Triple 9‘s best scenes. The tracks provide grittiness with an efficiency befitting of the crew carrying out the job. He even does a remix of Cypress Hill’s classic anti-police anthem, Pigs, that appears in the red band trailer and the end of the film that personifies nastiness and seediness.

Zootopia (composed by Michael Giacchino)


 Ticket to Write

Jumbo Pop Hustle

Hopps Goes After the Weasel

The Nick of Time

Ewe Fell for It

If you’re Michael Giacchino, how do you follow up scoring two the biggest films last year in Jurassic World (meh), and Inside Out (outstanding)? You do it by scoring Zootopia, a film many are hailing just as good, if not more so, than Inside Out. Regardless of what the feeling is, it’s clear that Giacchino has delivered again with more marvelous music. Close your eyes and listen to most of Ewe Fell for It, which sounds like it would be right at home in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode. Like his past work, the score is somewhat character-based with notable motifs of its main characters, with tons of unique sounds that feel Hugh Masekala-esque (without the notable horns and a faster pace). It’s high-quality stuff, and if forced to pick between his two most recent scores, I’d have to go with Zootopia’s, only because it sounds more different.

10 Cloverfield Lane (composed by Bear McCreary)



The Concrete Cell


Want mystery and a slow burn? 10 Cloverfield Lane provides that, and its score, composed by TV screen vet Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactia) reflects this. A good amount of it is brooding, foreshadowing as to what is (or isn’t) to come, and most of all, tense (got to love the robust strings), heard most memorably in the tracks Michelle, The Concrete Cell, and Hazmat Suit.

At the Door

But, when matters require that the score go into full-on horror/thriller mode, McCreary is no slouch, either, using tons of dissonance and changes in time signature to ratchet up the scenes. 10 Cloverfield Lane was definitely worth a theater viewing, but possibly not for the reasons immediately thought.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (composed by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL)

Beautiful Lie

Aside from the “war” waged between critics and moviegoers over the polarizing Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, some of the biggest news that really flew under the radar happened to be Hans Zimmer throwing in his towel as it pertains to contributing to future superhero scores, citing it “difficult to stay fresh.” And really, one can sort of hear that the BvS score, co-composed with Junkie XL, isn’t as precise or focused as his other work.

Still, even a 50-60% Zimmer is super-talented, and the opening of Dawn of Justice is probably the most emotional and arresting part of the entire feature, both visually and of course sonically. Some things may be wrong with DoJ, but I believe the opening and reintroduction to Batman’s origins is definitely not one of them. If only the rest of the film could be this great, right?

Is She With You?

Do You Bleed? 

To me, the above tracks are where Junkie XL’s influence on the score are heard most clearly. Both carry the really big, almost Greek-epic feel with a lot offorce, what one would expect with a title stating Batman clearing facing off with Superman. They’re loud, they’re titanic, and they need to be.

Photo credits go to,,,,, and

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Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2014 Music in Movies (Part 4)


Continuing with the series, today comes Part 4. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, just of things I have seen. Let me know what I have missed or need to hear below! For parts 1, 2, and 3, click herehere, and here.

Sugar Storm, from Gone Girl

Empty Places, from Gone Girl

Pound for pound, track for track, the score for Gone Girl may be the best yours truly has heard all year, out of what I’ve seen of course. There will be more than a few that make their way in this particular post, and these are only but a few. The best scores always seem to be done by composers who are totally attune to what the movie calls for at that particular moment. With Sugar Storm and Empty Places, their “appearances” mark a tranquil and calm point in the movie, though what is really cool is how the distortions near the end are heard ever so slightly, signaling that not all is what it seems.

Appearances, from Gone Girl

Just Like You, from Gone Girl

Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor really do have a tremendous feel for making one feel at ease, and then ever so slowly making the person feel uneasy with the modular “jaggedness” interspersed as the tune goes on. Like Empty Places and Sugar Storm, both of these pieces come relatively early in the movie, and though they does sound peaceful, there is an element of artificiality within them that the electric sounds and even the piano has.

Technically, Missing, from Gone Girl 

At Risk, from Gone Girl

Repetition, repetition, repetition. In both of these tracks, the usage of it adds to a steady tension, and in the case of Technically, Missing, astonishment. These tracks just like the others totally encapsulate the scene at that particular time (these two scenes are unforgettable, for better or worse). There are more tracks that could have been highlighted from Gone Girl, but let’s stop at six, shall we?

Story of Wick, from John Wick

John Wick is a wonderful looking action movie, pulling bits and pieces from spaghetti Westerns, traditional martial arts, and other familiar styles. Its score seems to pay homage to those styles as well, while still creating its own, electric-heavy feel. Take the Story of Wick. The sound present here feels like what I imagine Wick’s psyche is like: Delicate but driven with a purpose.

The Drowning, from John Wick

LED Spirals/Shots Fired, from John Wick

The score of John Wick is composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J Richard. However, they do receive help from a man known as “Le Castle Vania” in the tracks above. In many of the movie’s big set pieces, they are set to Vania’s influence. These scenes take the life of the tracks they accompany, pulsating with energy and grace, just like John Wick himself. Seriously, take a look at this snippet, where Shots Fired appears:

The shots actually map to the beat! That is indeed awesome, and paraphrasing the great reviewer Polarbears16, John Wick is so cool he makes reloading look elegant (paraphrasing). Everything about John Wick is so fluid and kinetic. Yours truly (sadly) still hasn’t seen The Raid 1 or 2 yet, but the action in this may just be the best of the year.

Who You Talking to Man, from John Wick

One of the few songs in the official soundtrack that features lyrics, this song fits Wick like a tight T-shirt. Filled with angst, a little bravado, and a strumming guitar, if Wick needed a theme, this would be it.

Nightcrawler, from Nightcrawler

Pictures on the Fridge, from Nightcrawler

This title track opens Nightcrawler, and immediately, it makes the viewer feel like they are getting ready to embark on a journey. And not just an traditional, point A to point B journey, but a deeper, complex, and ultimately internal journey into the psyche of a man. Heard again in a different variant later in the film, when more of Lou Bloom’s mindset and how he operates comes to an uneasy light, as if he has become illuminated with a certain eerie vibe.

Lou and Rick on a Roll, from Nightcrawler

Two pieces wrapped into one really. Like morning and night. The first third acts like the calm before the storm for the dynamic duo, while the rest of the thirds give off an adventure, a “time to go to work” feeling with the dynamic guitars and fast paced drums. Just business as usual with this nightcrawler and his cameraman.

The Shootout, from Nightcrawler

The name of the title is pretty self-explanatory as to when this track comes about in the film; to say anymore could be considered a spoiler. To talk briefly on it though, it is a mesmerizing track yet somewhat disturbing as well which may be the point, as Lou Bloom is an odd individual to say the least. Yours truly gets a “higher plane” feeling with this one, like someone has reached nirvana after much meditation.

S.T.A.Y., from Interstellar

Just like director Christopher Nolan, composer Hans Zimmer is one of the, if not the, most visible people working his particular craft in cinema today. Interstellar is a very ambitious and grandiose film, one of the biggest in recent memory, and yet at the core it is really basic and rooted in common themes like love, aspiration, and family.

Many of the tracks, especially Stay and S.T.A.Y, encompass both ends of the spectrum. They hint at the promise and excitement of newfound territory, but also the potential to lose everything most basic and dear to one man. Zimmer is a master at knowing when to accentuate the organs and somber strings, and when to rely on a less is more approach.

No Time for Caution, from Interstellar

One of the more awe-inspiring scenes of the year is made that much more so thanks to this particular piece. Its sound carries a real sense of importance and dread, with a very steady organ and staccato strings. However, this version isn’t exactly how it is heard in the theaters unfortunately, which is a bit of a bummer here. Still, it is a marvelous track and one that is damn near flawless within the movie.

That concludes a very, very lengthy Part 4! Until Part 5…


Photo credit goes to

All music credits go to the men and women who composed them, and YouTube for acquiring the license to make them available.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson