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?

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Atomic Blonde: Movie Man Jackson

How…does it..feel? Cold. As in the Cold War, the year being 1989. In Berlin, the war is winding down, but political unrest is winding up. After a high-ranking secret agent is killed in the streets, the MI6 sends in their best, agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron). Her mission is to track down Bakhtin (Jóhannes Jóhannesson), who not only killed agent Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave), but is in possession of a list that is trouble for everyone who doesn’t have it.

To retrieve it, she’s paired with station agent chief David Percival (James McAvoy). The two must traverse the shady, seedy city of Berlin to prevent major worldly damage from occurring. But in the world of espionage, no one can ever truly be trusted, and everyone knows more than they’re letting on.

There are some movies that earn their keep almost entirely on one scene. In Atomic Blonde, that one scene is an amazing stairwell fight scene that rivals some of the best American action movie scenes in recent memory, namely, John Wick’s red circle club shootout, that movie being co-directed by David Leitch. He’s on his own here, and in this one scene, it’s tightly constructed, highly unpredictable, and impeccably choreographed. Honestly, it along with the production is probably worth the price of admission alone. That doesn’t absolve the rest of the movie from its mild-at-best storytelling and script. But Atomic Blonde brings enough hot aspects to offset them ever so slightly.

Atomic Blonde is bathed in style from the get-go, employing a cool and neon-hued color palette that makes the locale of Berlin and that of its many hotspots pop off the screen. Based on a graphic novel known as The Coldest City, Leitch seems to draw inspiration from that medium in the way some scenes are shot and presented. In addition to the technical achievements, this film features a moody, industrial score by composer Tyler Bates (yet again, another John Wick connection) and an easy-listening, new-wave/synth pop soundtrack. He even manages to craft a central theme that will surely be used in any subsequent sequels.

And yet, Atomic Blonde’s probably closer to being a bad movie than a great one. At least script-wise. The espionage plot can more or less be summarized by “everyone twists everyone.” Even the characters who are rarely seen, if at all, are twisting everything. Leitch uses an interrogation by an unreliable narrator that frames the events of the story. At times this method works, but other times, little is added, or rather, the natural flow of the story is broken. A conventional telling would likely make things more comprehensible.

With multiple watches, it is a possibility that the numerous pieces, curveballs, and turns fit better and make some sense. Problem is with Atomic Blonde, it’s hard to actually want to go back and immerse into this world any deeper than surface-level. Watching an espionage movie already conditions the viewer (or at least, yours truly) to distance themselves from the characters who make up it. If everything is going to be flipped on its head, what’s the point of getting invested into anything or anyone?

Still, there’s a ton of talent on hand in the film that keeps it afloat. Charlize Theron, of course, can do it all. A dangerous and debonair dame, she’s perfectly cast in the role of Lorraine. An ass-kicker, but takes her share of getting her ass kicked, strong, yet vulnerable. Her dynamic with James McAvoy, having mass amounts of fun being a complete wild card, is compelling. Due to the twisty nature of the genre, however, no characters are given much weight; everyone is disposable to some degree. John Goodman and Toby Jones, while nice to see on screen, play roles anyone could play as nothing is asked of them. Outside of Lorraine and Percival and maybe Delphine (Sofia Boutella), all other characters might as well be a jumbled mass of indiscernible people who sound the same with similar-sounding names.

Looking for a brunette or redhead? Go elsewhere. Atomic Blonde is light and ditzy on characterization and solid storytelling, but high on direction and sensory fun. Blondes do have more fun.


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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)\



Beauty and the Beast

The Beast


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



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.


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



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


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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)


A Way Out

Meeting the Others


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)


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.


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


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.

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John Wick: Chapter 2: Movie Man Jackson


Time to make another dinner reservation. After exacting revenge on the people that brought him out of retirement before, the assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) makes another attempt to leave his old life behind.

Unfortunately, a contract killer sometimes has contracts and obligations to fulfill. An old acquaintance, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) arrives at Wick’s front step demanding Baba Yaga’s services, a binding agreement the two made years ago. Having no choice but to comply, John goes back into the criminal underworld as a hunter to take out Santino’s target. But in the criminal underworld, no matter the carried-out fulfillments, the hunter can quite easily become the hunted.


What is the biggest takeaway yours truly has after watching John Wick: Chapter 2? If there were a hypothetical battle royale deathmatch featuring the preeminent action film characters over the last 15 years or so that I had to bet my life on, I’d take John Wick every day of the week, and not think twice about it. Sorry James Bond, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, Robert McCall, and Bryan Mills, but John is a man of focus…sheer will…and determination that surpasses you all.

OK, done with the hypothetical and into the reality. Or at least the reality that John Wick inhabits. One half of the John Wick co-directors in Chad Stahelski returns to helm the sequel solo. The long takes, impeccable stunt work, precise camera angles ,and stellar action pieces are on on display again, doubled really. The setting of Rome lends itself to amazing cinematography (horror-esque at times) and scale. The music of Tyler Bates and how it adds to the proceedings shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. After a relatively slow-paced first third (mind you, after an explosive 10 minute start), the second John Wick ups the ante on the action front. Set pieces here might be a tad underneath the WHOA level of the Red Circle club scene, but not by much. And the fact that there’s simply more action present pushes the sequel past the first from an action perspective.


John Wick’s 2nd chapter is a symphony of violence, and the movie does revel and glorify in it. That doesn’t mean that the carnage isn’t beautiful, but it needs to be noted. Thankfully, the tone seems to recognize this and seems to know when a casual-but-not-wall-breaking wink to the audience is needed. Chapter 2’s script works good from an expansion standpoint, fleshing out the lore that the first installment hinted at.

As for an emotional standpoint, Wick’s 2nd outing doesn’t quite resonate like before, driven more by duty than desire. This certainly aids the world and rules that Baba Yaga is a part of, but not the character. In a way, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a victim of John Wick’s surprise out of “nowhere-ness.” Before, John Wick felt vulnerable, and as spectacular as he was, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility he could die; part of that feeling existed because we didn’t know what the endgame was with the first. Now, with a trilogy all but certain, John’s might as well be Wolverine with adamantium coursing through his veins—at least in Chapter 2. He still takes damage, but he’s gonna survive it.

However, the Wick character is still a blast to watch, because of Keanu Reeves. With all apologies to Neo and Ted, this may very well be the role people remember him most for once his career comes to a close. At 52, he hasn’t lost a step, and Wick still plays to his strengths while limiting his deficiencies. Couldn’t see anyone else having the success he’s had in the role.

As supporting characters go, most do well. Ian McShane’s returns as the NYC Continental hotel manager with expanded screentime and positioned to be a major future factor, Laurence Fishburne has a nice extended reunion scene with Reeves. Common more than holds his own as an assassin. Then again, it’s a role he has played  more than a few times. And Riccardo Scamarcio is one note but relatively effective. Unfortunately, a big misfire is Ruby Rose, who looks more like someone trying to pose as a threat as opposed to being one.


All in all though, John Wick: Chapter 2 cements John Wick as not a flash-in-the-pan action character, but a legitimate one that deserves to be mentioned with other iconic characters in the genre. Chapter 3 is coming, and whenever it does, it’ll be on my viewing hitlist.


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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

Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2014 Music in Movies (Part 3)


Continuing with the series, today comes Part 3. 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 and 2, click here and here.

Axe Gang, from Snowpiercer

We Go Forward, from Snowpiercer

In the comments of yours truly’s look at Snowpiercer, good ol’ Dan the Man and Mikey B  described Snowpiercer as “A very strange movie, but one that doesn’t hold back digging deeper and deeper into its own strangeness” and “surreal.” Both couldn’t be more correct. Like the movie itself, the soundtrack is so layered, with tons of classical, electro, orchestral, and Japanese-influenced sounds amid many more. Nothing more can really be said expect it is just so darn unique.

Hooked on a Feeling, from Guardians of the Galaxy

Sometimes being unique can be as simple as going back to the past. The soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy does just that, and perhaps no song is more connected to the film than Blue Swede’s classic, surely even bigger now thanks to the success of the film. This along with the other licensed music gives this installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe a wholly different tone, one of quirkiness, unconventionality, and retro-ness, despite being set in a sort of near-future realm.

The Final Battle Begins, from Guardians of the Galaxy

Black Tears, from Guardians of the Galaxy

Though the eclectic old-school licensed music is what most may remember about GotG , the actual score composed by Tyler Bates is nothing to scoff at. The Final Battle Begins is a solid musical introduction, and for all intents and purposes, a perfect theme for the journey of “a bunch of aholes.” It is a winning theme, one that tweaked and augmented to fit certain scenes across various other tracks in the score such as Black Tears and The Kyln Escape. The movie needs pieces like this that are expansive and space-y, since this does take place in, you know, a galaxy. When I think of what a space-opera would sound like, these comes to mind. It may be easy to say this now, but listen closely and you can hear heroism, fear, darkness, exploration, and other staples that scream “large galaxy and grand exploration.”

Sacrifice, from Guardians of the Galaxy

If this series hasn’t made you figure it out yet, I am a sucker for the beauty of orchestral strings, and that likely won’t change as this progresses. For all of its humor and nonconformist approach, Guardians of the Galaxy is still traditional in places and still able to deliver in spaces what some other movies struggle with: the sadder side of the emotional spectrum. There’s something about the sweeping violins, subtle but steady snare, faint brass, and muted vocals that give a really somber but reassuring tone that this setback for our heroes will not be the end.

Biggie Bounce, from Let’s Be Cops

Let’s Be Cops may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for yours truly, I found it to be filled with laughs. It is an irreverent time, frightening in a sense, and undoubtedly ridiculous. The soundtrack seems to know this, because it too is filled with songs rife with stupidity, like Biggie Bounce. Really, how does a booty-twerking song fit into LBC? Stumps me too, but in the happenings of the film, know that it is more than ideal.

Alone, from The Equalizer

Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (Prometheus, Man on Fire, Kingdom of Heaven), the score of The Equalizer is one that is really subdued and mysterious, almost minimalist, with Alone starting immediately seconds into the movie. It reflects the character and mindset of Robert McCall, the enigmatic protagonist of self-control who no one truly knows.

 The Equalizer, from The Equalizer

This piece, though appearing in small pieces of other tracks throughout, is unleashed in all of its glory near the end. While carrying a little of the same mysteriousness as Alone from the start of the film, this title track suits Robert McCall at the end of the flick perfectly. perfectly. And that riff! It’s controlled, methodical, hits hard, and is just overall badass in its sound. Great theme moving forward.

Vengeance, from The Equalizer

Yeah, I know this isn’t an original piece. In fact, Zack Hemsey’s Vengeance has been used in Game of Thrones, 24: Live Another Day, and The Judge. Still, it is a track that gives a solid look (once again) at the culmination as to what McCall is feeling at that particular moment. For what it is worth, hearing Vengeance in The Equalizer was the first time yours truly has ever heard of it, but it came at a great time. It helps punctuate an incredible climax, giving some real intensity to one of the better set pieces of the year.

Until Part 4…


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