Is it possible could it be that every score is good, of course not and I hope that by being honest about a composers music they will not take offence but will maybe think “Fair Point”. I have heard so much about the film THE INVISIBLE MAN the latest version, the acting is supposedly superb as is the storyline and the direction, the score too is said to be brilliant, well that’s where I kind of disagree, Benjamin Wallfisch is becoming sort of type cast don’t you think, IT , IT CHAPTER 2, ANABELLE CREATION, LIGHTS OUT etc. THE INVISIBLE MAN has its moments, but these I think are outweighed by more negative and grating sounding pieces that I for one would not choose to sit and listen to as just music, but this is film music so we have to make allowances and hope the score does its job, but even if it does said job, does not mean I or indeed anyone has to like it. There are as I say some quite nice mysterious compositions within the score, that did I have to tell you evoke memories of Goldsmith’s BASIC INSTINCT, not as in its sounds like Goldsmith’s music for that movie, but because the style and the atmosphere created by it has a kind of menacing but at the same time sensual sound, the composer utilising piano and strings to garner this effect. But why is it recently that when Hans Zimmer does something or experiments with a sound that so many follow his thinking and basically imitate? Is this film music evolving or is it film music sounding all the same? The result often ending up sounding like a cheap orchestra trying to emulate the spaghetti western sound of Morricone. In THE INVISIBLE MAN there are a handful of cues which I for one would not refer to as being musical in any way, they are more like a rock guitar that is being smashed around a room, the sound created is awful and unlistenable, yes it will probably be effective within the context of the film, but why so harsh why so un-melodic, and just so grating? It’s not really even atonal its just NOISE and a noise that I skipped every time, I know some will say “Well I love it” Well you know what I don’t, so as with all reviews it is a personal opinion, these nasty jagged pieces have I think put me off returning to the score. A score which is fair but nothing earth shattering, there is in fact nothing new here nothing outstanding, as in WOW this is great, apart from maybe the track entitled THE SUIT which again although good, does evoke memories of maybe Pino Donnagio’s DRESSED TO KILL at times. (The Museum). The composer went down a similar road musically when he scored HELLBOY another score I found to be too busy and chaotic, with so much going on and so much being thrown at you that it’s difficult to separate the sounds and they become an onslaught to the senses. So this is maybe a film that you will want to go see, so I apologise for being honest and saying the score, is just average, in an imitating Zimmer fashion. Where is the melodic and tantalising sound and style of Benjamin Wallfisch, that we experienced in scores such as, BITTER HARVEST and to a degree in THE DARKEST MINDS? Maybe it has been subdued or worse rubbed out by the influences of Zimmer.
Benjamin Wallfisch is a composer who has come to the forefront of film music in recent years, and it is hardly surprising seeing that his talent, gift for melody and originality becomes more and more evident with each film he scores. One of his latest assignments is IT CHAPTER TWO, the composer returning to the story after his successful score for the 2017 version of Stephen King’s chilling tale. After a period of some twenty seven years the Losers club have grown into adults and put the horrific events of Pennywise the gruesome clown behind them, until that is they receive a phone call which brings them back together and returns them to their worst nightmares in the form of Pennywise The score is in my opinion better than the soundtrack the composer fashioned for the 2017 production, as in it is far more developed thematically and also has to it a sensitive and emotive side, this for me is a perfect horror soundtrack, the composer treads a very fine line between going over the top and also not giving the images enough support when working on films in the horror genre. Wallfisch has got the formula and the mix just right, yes there are lots of dark and evil sounding passages but there are also an equal number of pieces within the work that are oozing with a rich and even lush sound. The composer creating delicate and fragile sounding tone poems within the quieter moments of the soundtrack, but then in the next instant bringing sinewy, spidery and tense sections to fruition that underline, support and greatly enhance moments of intense uneasiness. Slicing strings that grate and evoke a sensation of foreboding and spitefulness feature at times and these are I have to say brilliantly executed. The composer’s inclusion of lighter musical elements that purvey a sadness and an atmosphere of solitude are wonderfully written and totally mesmerising, being like a pool of tranquillity within a sea of turmoil that is overflowing with macabre impish sounds that become haunting, effecting and engrossing. I also love the use of choir within the score, it gives the work an epic feel and Is a grandiose and powerful element of the work. In many ways I suppose one could say that this is written in a similar way to Jerry Goldsmith’s POTERGEIST scores, it contains so many colours and textures, and has an abundance of musical twists turns and loop the loops but it is an entertaining and a rewarding listen. The work is at times relentless and driving, commanding and hectic, and above all it just works in the movie and its pretty good away from it also. This is one to watch out for, check IT, out. Are you scared yet?
Composer Benjamin Wallfisch has always been industrious and busy, he has written the music to many varied projects and is at home scoring TV or feature film, recently we have seen the many sides and styles of this composer with scores for big movies such as the re-boot of Stephen Kings IT, KING OF THIEVES, BLADE RUNNER 2049 (with Hans Zimmer), ANNABELLE CREATION, DARKEST MINDS and this year already SERENITY, HELLBOY and HOSTILE PLANET. I do also want to make mention of his excellent work on the movie BITTER HARVEST and his brilliant soundtrack for CONQUEST 1453.
One of his latest assignments is for the big screen version of SHAZAM, and in my opinion this is probably one of his most entertaining scores to date, it is overflowing with a plethora of rich heroic themes and contains a more delicate and even at times fragile side to it. After hearing the composers score for HELLBOY and being undecided about it, I was pleased to be totally convinced with SHAZAM, there is just so much here that one could not fail to be entertained, thrilled and engulfed by the superb music of Wallfisch. SHAZAM is for the majority of its duration symphonic, but like all or most scores for films nowadays it also relies on electronic or synthetic support and embellishment, the composer fuses these styles and sounds together flawlessly and at times one is hard pressed to even separate the two. The score contains a sound that evokes memories of composers such as Goldsmith and Newman when he scored THE PHANTOM it is an imposing and grand work with the composer thankfully including lush themes stirring anthems and melancholy sounding motifs that shine and shimmer throughout. As with all great superhero themes the composer has penned a fairly simple composition for the central character, but this is the appeal its not complex or complicated it just announces and supports our hero and when it is heard one just knows that SHAZAM is around. A really entertaining score even within its fast-paced action cues, because amongst all the action we still are treated to glimpses of themes and snippets of the scores core sounds. Recommended, yes most certainly.
Benjamin Wallfisch is most certainly a composer of many talents and one who employs a varied selection of styles, colours and textures within his film scores. THE DARKEST MINDS is no exception and benefits from the Wallfisch treatment. The movie which is action led and science fiction, contains a soundtrack that overflows with a rich and wonderfully thematic content. Wallfisch has created a score that is a combination of both symphonic and electronic, but it is a movie that I think called for a score that was a combination of the two mediums, because of its ingenious and somewhat disturbing storyline. The thing is I also believe THE DARKEST MINDS is essentially a love story and this too is reflected in the romantic and emotive writing of Wallfisch, who manages to meld and fashion symphonic and electronic to bring forth a beautiful and at times bitter sweet soundtrack. The composer also makes effective use of female wordless voice in a very similar fashion to that of Morricone in some of his earlier soundtracks. The melancholy, the emotion and the wonderfully poignant atmosphere shines through in almost every cue and I have to say it is a quality work and one that I listened to three maybe four times in a row when I first heard it. This is another great soundtrack from this now highly respected film music Maestro, just one complaint there are a couple of cues which maybe have been influenced by certain composers who are working in movies today and composers that Wallfisch has worked with in recent months, and although effective within the film the cues do tend to be repetitive and fairly un-inspired, having no real fabric or development, but rather just crashing along without much direction but saying this there are other action cues which work extremely well both in the movie and away from it. Apart from this I think that THE DARKEST MINDS will be a soundtrack that collectors will savour, enjoy and return to, tracks such as ZU’s DREAM is a fusion of the symphonic and the synthetic, but in this case it does work and builds the tension and creates an atmosphere and mood which is dark and fraught with danger. But, then you have tracks like HOME, this is a poignant and highly emotional piece, performed by strings and piano, it is one of those cues that one knows is going to be good as it begins. Lilting piano underlined by strings, open the proceedings, but the string section soon come into their own the core theme of the piece beginning to swell and become a dominant feature within the composition, it them fades back to low and more down tempo strings that are joined by piano, which punctuates as the track moves along. In many ways this is the style I prefer to hear from the composer, it is so mesmerising and tantalizing that it renders the listener somewhat helpless and silent, simply because the music is so tender, sweet and attractive. THE DARKEST MINDS is a soundtrack I will recommend, but for the romantic and more melancholy parts as opposed to the harsh sounding synthetic action cues that I mentioned.
Based upon the true-life events of the HATTON GARDEN robbery, KING OF THIEVES is an entertaining and engrossing movie. The same can be said of the musical score which is composed by Benjamin Wallfisch. The sound realised for the soundtrack is a combination of contemporary and has to it a slightly 1960’s edge in some of the cues. The composer utilising big band styles that are combined with jazz orientated sections and dramatic and tense thematic material that I think you will agree sounds like a fusion of the styles of Quincy Jones and John Barry. But, there is also present a style that is driving and action led. This could be the soundtrack to another instalment of the SHAFT series or even the score for a new Harry Palmer tale or maybe THE MAN FROM UNCLE? This is a slick and sophisticated work, filled with toe tapping musical lines and has to it that big band sound on which the composer builds a more dramatic and tense sounding score. On listening to it and not being aware of the composer, the names Fielding, Schifrin, Barry, Goldsmith, Hayes and Legrand come to mind.
There was a movie released in the 1960’s entitled ROBBERY music was by Johnny Keating I think, and he successfully mixed jazz sounds with that of the dramatic, creating an effecting soundtrack that supported and enhanced the movie. I believe Wallfisch has succeeded in creating a score that not only fits the movie like a glove but also has fashioned music that is highly entertaining on its own. In fact, it’s an album that one could put on and just listen to without it being connected in any way to the movie. Legrand did it with THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, Schifrin with BULLIT and Barry on movies such as THE IPCRESS FILE.
The composer combines the brassy sounds of big band with strings and woods and punctuates these with bass and electric guitar which are augmented by effective usage of cymbalom. This is just an entertaining musical romp which is highlighted by the jazz arrangement of THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY in the form of THE SUGAR PLUM RAID, its fresh, fun and one to add to the collection, Now.