His excellent work on director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 international blockbuster The Dark Knight, was disqualified for Oscar consideration due to too many cooks (composers) in the kitchen, a handicap that doesn’t apply to Nolan’s 2010 follow-up, Inception. Zimmer’s signature move, a four- to eight-chord round that builds from a subtle breeze to an F5 tornado, serves as the foundation for Inception’s dizzying score, and the addition of Smiths/Cribs guitarist Johnny Marr, who appears on eight of the twelve cuts, dutifully expands the layers of Zimmer’s melodies, much like the dream building that occurs onscreen. It’s beautiful and heroic, unhinged and unspeakably melancholy, and the finest and most fully realized soundtrack this prolific composer has crafted to date. -All Music Guide
James Cameron’s film Avatar, to judge by its record-breaking commercial take, has managed to communicate with viewers on a basic level. Its story, even its critical defenders concede, is a mishmash of elements borrowed from a half-dozen earlier films, most notably Dances with Wolves, and the score by James Horner might be similarly charged. The segements relating to the Na’vi world, taken by themselves, are a uniquely unappetizing mixture of Debussy and Vaughan Williams; the scenes relating to the Earth’s military invasion are, like so many other battle scenes these days, near-pure Carl Orff . The technological scenes are not too far off from futuristic television scores of the sort that Horner and others have written, with lots of slinky strings and quartal harmonies. The thing is, all this isn’t a flaw, it’s a strong point.- All Music Guide
John Williams’ first film score to capture the imagination of the public, and the first hit movie score of the 1970s not to involve a love theme (à la Love Story), Jaws has been on CD for more than a decade, but this is the first release that really does it justice. The centerpiece of the music is the bump-bump-bump-bump theme associated with the movements (usually unseen) of the shark, which became so well known that it was used as an essential part of various comedy sketches in a multitude of media at the time (Williams himself quoted it comically in his scoring for Steven Spielberg’s 1941). It does reappear in numerous forms (many of them veiled) throughout the score, along with a handful of additional memorable musical phrases associated with Williams’ score, many involving the hunt for the shark.-All Music Guide
Composer Javier Navarrete built the entire soundtrack for Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish fable Pan’s Labyrinth around a simple lullaby. Del Toro insisted that Navarrete’s entire score, much of which was omitted during editing, be included, and it’s a testament to the composer’s immersion into the project that nothing here could be construed as filler. Framed inside a waltz, “Long, Long Time Ago” sums up beautifully the imagination that permeates Del Toro’s masterful fairy tale. Navarrete fills each cavernous space with wonder, relying on harp, choirs, and deep strings to mirror a young girl’s descent into fantasy amidst a world intent on tearing itself apart.- All Music Guide
After winning an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Social Network , Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross re-team for the soundtrack of David Fincer’s American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Reznor’s and Ross’ recorded score clocks in at over three hours, and is released in numerous configurations online and at retail, including as a $300 deluxe, signed, six-LP box set. Other than a strident cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” the score is moody, often restrained, and in its way, as disturbing as the film.-All Music Guide
One of the biggest signs that the team bringing Suzanne Collins’ violent, riveting young adult book series The Hunger Games to the big screen was headed in the right direction was the choice of T-Bone Burnett as the soundtrack’s producer. The Hunger Games‘ story takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America reorganized into 12 districts that serve a decadent, corrupt capital and must sacrifice two children each year to a nationally televised fight to the death. Moody heroine Katniss Everdeen hails from coal-mining District 12, and there’s a strong Appalachian bent to steely laments. – All Music Guide
By the time of Moonrise Kingdom’s release, the soundtracks to Wes Anderson films had become not exactly predictable, but certainly familiar to his fans: some British Invasion deep cuts here, some intricate, chamber pop-inspired score music there. Yet Anderson and his musical collaborators had already begun changing things up with the soundtrack to The Fantastic Mr. Fox, a trend that continues here. This may be the most typically filmic music for an Anderson movie yet, which, paradoxically, is Moonrise Kingdom’s biggest surprise. Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man” and “Kaw-Liga” add the necessary rough ‘n’ tumble edges to the fugitive lovers’ adventures.- All Music Guide
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