There has been much hype and anticipation surrounding JOHN CARTER and by the look of early trailers and previews, it’s a movie which will not disappoint. The musical score has also been eagerly awaited. Composer Michael Giacchino has in a relatively short period of time established himself as a respected and sought after purveyor of film scores. I know it sounds rather clichéd when I say that as a composer he is chameleon-like because he has the ability to adapt and work on any type of genre and creates successful and memorable scores each and every time – but it is true. The award-winning maestro has scored many of the box office hits of the past five years and has attracted the attention not only of his peers but also of critics and film music collectors alike. Giacchino has the ability not only to create large and luxurious scores and infuse them with a sound and style reminiscent of the golden and silver ages of film music but also to create modern upbeat sound-scapes that are fresh, rhythmic and infectious – what one would call an all rounder. The score for JOHN CARTER is a sweeping and anthem filled work. It contains exciting and suspense filled cues which are accompanied by high octane action tracks and melodious heroic sounding compositions, bound together by the composer’s use of an unworldly sound created by strings, choir, solo voice and faraway sounding brass, enhanced and embellished by subtle utilization of woodwind. The score also has its fair share of interesting percussive elements which add great depth and relay an atmosphere of tension and urgency to the proceedings. There is certainly no doubt that the composer gives more than a gentle nod in the direction of John Williams within this expansive and lavishly constructed work but there is certainly reference to a certain Mr Goldsmith too, as in track three, “Gravity of the Situation”, which begins slowly and rather quietly with solo violin punctuated by pizzicato strings but soon whips into a short lived but enjoyable waltz, rich in melody, oozing charm and elegance.
Track five “Sab Than Pursues the Princess” is one of the score’s highlights. Giacchino creates a tense and vibrant composition, carried by urgent and lush sounding strings supported by booming percussion and further enhanced and augmented by brass which is both rasping and proud in its sound. It’s a great piece which showcases and brings to life one of the central themes for the movie and it demonstrates just how good the composer is in delivering hard nosed action cues. This is real high-energy material; nigh on relentless in its onslaught. Track eight, “The Blue Light Special”, is also a cue worthy of note. This is a calmer sounding piece, with the composer putting to good use solo voice and subtle choir alongside plaintive sounding strings, which increase in their volume and also their richness to create a bitter-sweet theme.
Giacchino, is one of the biggest talents in Hollywood at this time because he is able to compliment and enhance so many differing genres with scores which work both on and off screen. He is in fact a film music collector’s dream come true because his music does the job it was originally intended for and it has life, substance, and an identity away from the movies.
Giacchino is a composer who will be around for many years to come and JOHN CARTER is a score which is an essential purchase. If you are already into Giacchino you will love it. If you are not yet familiar with his music this will be the start of a beautiful relationship.