ScoreKeeper Talks About Michael Giacchino's STAR TREK Score...
Published at: April 8, 2009, 8:04 a.m. CST by merrick
Greetings! ScoreKeeper here still seizing from the spectacle of science-fiction experienced yesternight at the Alamo Drafthouse in beautiful Austin, Texas. In case you haven’t heard, there was a bait-and-switch screening of J.J. Abrams’ STAR TREK (2009) with Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, mind-melding our collective glee into an electrified euphoria the likes of which could not be immediately comprehended.
Reviews, bloggings, tweets, and reports about the new film are proliferating the net like Tribbles so I deemed it logical to weigh in on what has long been regarded as the backbone of the STAR TREK franchise…its music.
It must be painfully unnerving to tackle scoring duties on a new STAR TREK property. Following in the musical footsteps of such legends as Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, Fred Steiner, Gerald Fried, and many others, is a task much like piloting a starship through a debris-strewn mine field; one misstep results in total destruction while success is simply measured by getting out alive on the other side.
Upon hearing Michael Giacchino’s score for J.J. Abram’s STAR TREK last night I’m starting to reconsider that evaluation. Perhaps success could actually be measured by more.
It’s no secret I’m an ardent admirer of Michael Giacchino’s music. His scores for THE INCREDIBLES (2004), RATATOUILLE (2007), and SPEED RACER (2008) all cracked the top three on my Top Ten Best Scores lists for their respective years. He is a rare artist whose acrobatic compositional abilities are matched only by his proclivity for effective storytelling. While I hold his work in high esteem, I’m still dubious of each new upcoming score he’s slated to produce. I’m waiting – expecting even – for something mediocre to come from him. It’s going to happen. It’s bound to happen.
…maybe so. But not yet.
Michael Giacchino’s score for J.J. Abram’s STAR TREK is a real ear-opening, boldly-going, riveting trichotomy of quality composed music earning it’s placement among the ranks of the upper echelon of STAR TREK scores. I think a lot of people will be asking “Is it as good as Jerry Goldsmith’s music?” That may be a bit unfair just as it would be unfair to compare the new film itself to either the original series or any of its subsequent cinematic spawns. This is indeed something quite new, a fresh reboot with enormous potential for growth. Although rampant with a brand of compositional development Giacchino is well known for, I felt the score, as a whole, was largely expositional much like the arch of the film itself. The foundation has been set. Let the future begin!
There were three major components to the score that struck my ear upon my initial viewing of the film. The first is the deep underlying emotion running hilt to tip throughout the entire musical presence of the film. Even the bombastic action sequences were emotionally charged. A mere ten minutes into the film, I was reduced to tears and had only the music to blame.
Secondly, Giacchino’s primary TREK theme is cut from the same swath as other well-crafted themes heard throughout the history franchise yet remains remarkably original. It’s a theme for this STAR TREK yet it nestles comfortably among its popular brethren. I found myself humming it all day today remembering its key entrances in the film (there were many, and they are glorious).
Finally, the Romulan music was effectually primitive in design yet powerfully bombastic in its execution. It gave Nero a one-track-mind mentality rooted in a classic eye-for-an-eye revenge scenario. Always the connoisseur for percussion, Giacchino lathers thick layers of it during these raucous moments.
As much score as I soaked up, I have to admit the majority of the time I was succumb to the inexplicable elixir of the story, characters, and stunning visual effects. Like everyone else in the audience, my initial reaction was simply that. I am very much looking forward to getting the soundtrack, breaking it down, listening to individual pieces repeatedly, and ultimately viewing the film in its entirety once again. This will be a score worth revisiting and more importantly, worth building subsequent sequels upon.
If you’ve read the other reviews on this site from Harry, Quint, and Massawyrm, I ditto pretty much everything they’ve already said about the movie. Everybody in that theater had a memorable night and it wasn’t because who showed up, or the free popcorn and soda, or the free STAR TREK one-sheets signed by Leonard Nimoy…it was because we saw an amazingly worthwhile film sporting quality writing, acting, lighting, effects, and yes….scoring!