2013 Movie Scores Review Part One

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Movies would not be where they are without a decent soundtrack but where it really makes an impact is in a great score. Here at Geek Syndicate we are huge fans of film scores and now that we are past the halfway point of 2013 we thought it would be a good time to sit back stick the headphones on and immerse ourselves in the music of the movies and see what we think.

There have been many films out so far this year so in order to be fair I am only reviewing the ones I have actually seen the movies that the soundtrack accompany. At the end of the year we will post our second and third part with a near complete list. Also this list is not on release order as there are some that came out early in the year but we will review in part two.

Please note if you have not seen the films some of the tracks will have spoilers in their titles so be warned.

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Iron Man 3
The third in the franchise and the third composer. This time we get Brian Tyler (The Expendables 2, Fast & Furious 4&5) on score duties. While there has been an overriding Iron Man theme it is not instantly recognisable. I loved the first movie score but was not even close to excited by Iron Man 2’s but here we get an exciting and memorable score.

Iron Man’s theme is there throughout and you feel your heart rate rise every time it appears. We also get longer tracks here with at least 7 over 4 minutes long. Some favourites are Iron Man, Attack on 10880 Malibu Point and The Mechanic which has good use of a guitar. Stark seems to somehow blend Iron Man with James Bond for a very enjoyable and cool result.
Tyler has fun with the themes and ends on a high note with Can You Dig It.
GS RATING 5/5

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A Good Day to Die Hard (Die Hard 5)
Without going int oa rant about why this film was ever made lets take a look at the music and see if it is any better than the rubbish that was on screen. Marco Beltrami (Underworld: Evolution, I, Robot, Hellboy) returns for his 2nd outing with McClaine after Die Hard 4.0. All the tracks are short with only 6 out of 26 tracks over 3 minutes long. The first track Yuri Says is a bad way to start a album with it bland theme but we then are treated to a much better track with Getting Yuri To The Van which feels weightier and seems to somehow get the Die Hard feel mixed in with a sense dread. Other tracks seem to have taken a leaf right out of John Carpenter’s synth book that all feel out of place here mainly because of the whole low tech action of the film.

The last set of tracks that depict the final battle are a cacophony of sounds that try to work together but fail. Not in a huge way as there are some moments of recognition but overall it seems like a mess with various themes and ideas being thrown together.
Beltrami likes to try different things and themes but sometimes misses the mark.
GS RATING 2.5/5

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Man of Steel
A lot was riding on this reboot of one of the most famous movie and comic book characters of all time. Not only was the look of Superman being changed but also the iconic theme created by John Williams which most would rank as one of the best musical cues of all time. So one of my favourite composers out there today decided to tackle this impossible task, Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight , The Rock, Backdraft) and what was the first thing he decided? Not have anything to do with the Williams theme and this was the perfect choice because what we get is a sublime score.

Things kick off with Look to the Stars which sets the tone and feel for the rest of the tracks and the pure epicness of this track is hypnotic. Some of the slower tracks have a haunting quality that gives you the sense of loneliness that Kal El was feeling on Earth. Flight is a triumph of a track that will stay in your memory of the film for years to come.
This is by far one of the finest scores of the last few years and Zimmer has proven you can reboot and make it work.
GS RATING: 5/5

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Star Trek Into Darkness
The sequel to the reboot of the long lasting Star Trek franchise had to prove itself that it was not just dumb luck in 2009. Michael Giacchino (John Carter, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Super 8) returns once more on score duties after having created a new theme for Star Trek for a stab at a darker tone.

The first track reminds us of the new Star Trek theme mixed in with some fun as we settle in for the ride. Soon after we get Sub Prime Directive which gives us the new theme, the original theme and something new that leads to the crescendo we come to expect. The Kronos Wartet brings a distinct warrior vibe to it that gives us a new Klingon feel. Earthbound and Down has lots of drums and emotion to keep you going till the next film. At over 5 minutes long The San Fran Hustle delivers on the thrills of that amazing chase and fight sequence. We end the with Star Trek Main Theme that has successfully become the new Star Trek theme tune.
A great score by Michael Giacchino that brings in full use of the orchestra into a Sci Fi setting.
GS RATING: 4/5

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Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro released his passion project about giant monsters vs giant robots earlier this year with lots of people holding their breathe hoping it would deliver what we were promised. For me it did in bucket loads. I was cheering in the cinema and a big part of that was the excellent score by Ramin Djawadi (Clash of the Titans, Iron Man, Fright Night 2011).

The opening title Pacific Rim explodes into action with a truly memorable tune that will have flashbacks to the movie and wanting to get into a Jaeger and do some damage. Next up is Gypsy Danger that brings the feelings of the entire film in a track that is just over 3 minutes long. There are some tracks with great use of a solitary guitar including Cancelling the Apocalypse and Call Me Newt. The Shatterdome has a Tron like quality to it that does not feel out of place in this setting. Category 5 gives us a type of Kaiju theme that both impresses and delivers a sense of dread.
Djawadi makes great use of the brass section of the orchestra using booms here and there to bring us a score that keeps going and is excellent to just have on repeat all day without getting bored.
GS RATING: 5/5

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Olympus Has Fallen
Every so often Hollywood has a bright idea and release 2 films close to each other that are basically the same thing. Armageddon and Deep Impact for instance and this year we get two films that are basically Die Hard in the White House. White House Down (out in September) and Olympus Has Fallen which came out first. With Olympus Has Fallen, Trevor Morris (Immortals, Death Race: Inferno and various TV shows) tackles probably his biggest film score to date.

Kicking off the first track is Land of the Free which has the exact right blend of patriotic drum roll mixed in with the horns to set the tone and get you in the mood. After this the next few tracks are slow burners to bring you the build-up to the main event. The actual “attack” is broken into 2 waves, White House Air Attack and White House Ground Attack with both brining their own blend of themes but the Ground Attack clearly wins out. The very sombre Olympus Has Fallen is short but powerful and you get a complete sense of what it is trying to accomplish. Banning Steps Into Action is a great theme that could easily be used in any action movie and work. The rest of the tracks mix between slow and fast with a great race up the final act.
This score by Morris is a good solid action score but can be a bit messy at times but still great to listen to.
GS RATING: 3.5/5

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Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters
The follow up film that focuses on the half human half god son of Poseidon and his friends at Camp Halfblood arrives with a smaller budget but a better score than the first film. Andrew Lockington (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, City of Ember, Journey to the Center of the Earth) delivers a sweeping score that delivers.

We start with Thalia’s Story that puts us right into demigod territory and immerses us in the landscape of the gods. Colchis Bull mixes drums with some electronic music to excellent effect for a non stop ride. The Oracle’s Prophecy has the right blend of haunting with magic and suspense. Hermes is a pure fun track that makes you smile. The nearly 7 minute long Wave Conjuring has an almost young Indiana Jones feel to it which seems to work well in this environment. Pirate themes creep into Belly Of The Beast with some amusing yet cool results while Kronos belts out some action. The album ends with a song To Feel Alive by Iameve.
Lockington has created a decent score that is not perfect but has all the right ingredients to make even the Gods of Olympus happy.
GS RATING 3.5/5

Still to come for next time are, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Kick Ass 2, The Wolverine, World War Z, Jack the Giant Slayer, After Earth, Oblivion, Epic, The Hunger Games 2 Catching Fire, The Hobbit 2, Thor: The Dark World, R.I.P.D., Elysium, The Lone Ranger and White House Down, G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation.

If we have missed any great scores for this year so far then let us know.

If you have Spotify you can check some of these albums out on our GS best of  2013 playlist

Reporter: Montoya

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