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

Derry

Slideshow

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)

Amputee

Sutures

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

Poppy

Statesman

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)

2049

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

Furnace

Joi

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 

Justice

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 asturscore.com, heroichollywood.com, filmmusicreporter.com, jonburlingame.com, maxthetrax.com, imdb.com, batman-news.com, and filmmusicmag.com.

Only one (possibly two) more installments to go!

Follow MMJ @MovieManJackson.

 

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Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2014 Music in Movies (Part 1)

reelmusic

It is December, which means it is the end of the year. Which means that people are rolling out or are getting ready to roll out their year end list of their favorite flicks. I love reading and seeing the trends on the lists, but I thought I would do something different, or something at the very least not seen as much.

Many films by themselves can be great, but sometimes it is the brilliance of a visionary composer or the superb usage of licensed music that carries a piece of cinema to legendary heights. Even an average scene can be more memorable or important than it really is because of perfectly aligned music. I’ve always been enamored with the melding of music and films.

So, yours truly has decided to look at some of the standout score tracks and licensed tracks that made their way into 2014 movies. For every release I have seen this year, I have listened extensively to every full length OST I have been able to get my hands ears on. However, there are surely magnificent pieces of music I am missing simply because I haven’t had the time to look at every noteworthy movie in the year. Let me know what you liked, and what I still need to listen to.

With that said, I’ve been able to catch a good deal. This isn’t a ranking, but rather just a series to spotlight some really solid tracks, both of original score and licensed music, that have appeared throughout the year in film. And dealing with score tracks, sometimes the titles of them do give away specific moments in the film. Not always, but occasionally, so there may inadvertently be slight spoilers. Make sense? Let’s begin…

Everything is Awesome, from The Lego Movie

What more can be said about this one? It sounds so simplistic and harmless and inspiring, and in many ways it is. But seeing it in the context of the film alludes to the dangers of being too team-centric. It is really a clever song if you think about it. I originally disliked it, but the more and more it came on I fell into its infectious charm and wittiness. Too hard to resist.

Lemurian Star, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Hearing the swelling begin in this immediately makes the fact known that TWS is a different Marvel movie, one that is more grounded and serious in its nature. The feeling is evident that the stakes, even without knowing what they particularly are yet, are raised. Awesome opening music.

Fury, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Aptly described track here. Not only does it refer to Agent Nick Fury, but the specific moment in the movie where the entire Marvel Universe is changed forever. And this moment itself is furious, filled with intensity and uncertainty punctuated by the jagged electronic noises and energetic strings.

The Winter Soldier, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Talk about build in a track. The Winter Soldier track does a brilliant job of utilizing some off-kilter sounds with minimal production at the beginning of it to build a sense of awe and wonder when you-know-who makes finally makes his long-awaited arrival into the film. It is almost horror-ish and frightening in its tone. Once the real meat comes in the song, it hits like a ton of bricks.

Godzilla!, from Godzilla (2014)

Appearing right at the start over the opening credits, this theme sets the tone for the latest iteration of “The King of Monsters” by taking a nod from the past. It is by no means a carbon copy of the 1954 theme, but listen closely and similarities can be heard:

The new theme feels exactly how Godzilla should be: bold, processional-like, full of strength, and I don’t like to use this word often, but epicness. Also, another nice nod when this theme was playing? Taking an interesting, historical look at the origins of the big guy.

The Power Plant, from Godzilla

Godzilla’s soundtrack was composed by Alexandre Desplat, a man not known for lending his talents to blockbusters (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Queen). Never would have guessed it, as throughout the score, he really seems to have a feel for what is needed in the movie. After a few listens to just the first few tracks, it is quite evident that Desplat has a soft spot for robust strings and horns of all varieties. This one is no different, fitting perfectly into the critical scene it arrives in with tons of fortissimo, driven not just by the punctuating horns but the relenting Japanese drums. But when the scene mellows out, so does the back end of The Power Plant, taking on a more somber feel.

Raise Those Hands, from Neighbors

A movie based around not growing up and endless partying needs a killer party scene, accompanied by equally killer electronic/dubstep. This does the job here, literally making the viewer feel like we’re right there in the party with the glow sticks, dance battles, endless supply of alcohol, and sex going on in the other room.

 Hope (Xavier’s Theme), from X-Men: Days of Future Past

Yours truly may not have adored Days of Future Past like others (and that is of course fine), but this singular track may be up there with the best I’ve heard all year in anything. Aided by layers of strings, a deliberate piano, and with what I’d describe as a restrained brass section, it all comes together to create a theme that invokes uncertainty, sadness, but most importantly, hope and belief that things can change for Professor X in his time of self-doubt. Really poignant and touching.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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Photo credit goes to wbjc.com

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