It’s that time again folks, summer time and along with high temperatures, ice cream cones and cold drinks comes the summer blockbuster movies. Well I say blockbusters, but are there any real blockbusters currently, maybe not. Well two big movies that have caused a little excitement and interest are SPIDER MAN THE HOMECOMING and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, so a crimefighting hero and a chilling look at what the future might hold for our planet earth. The two films although very different in mood and subject have one common denominator and that is composer Michael Giacchino. When I first saw the original planet of the apes I was blown away by the storyline the makeup and most of all the now iconic musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, he captured perfectly the upside-down world in which humans were the pets or slaves and hunted parties and the apes were the superior creatures who were intelligent and able to speak. Later in the original series I felt the storylines became a little over the top and even silly, but the scores for these simian tales always seemed to be creative and original no matter which composer was at the musical helm. The reboot of the series which now comprises of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and now WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, have been scored by just two composers, the first RISE, being given its musical identity by Scottish born composer Patrick Doyle, who for me personally did a brilliant job creating a soundtrack that at times paid homage to the original movies but still contained more than enough original material to stand on its own two feet. DAWN and WAR have scores by American composer Michael Giacchino, DAWN was an ok score, but I found that it was not that original, at times moving into a more STAR TREK sounding territory, the reboot of this series also being scored by Giacchino. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is somewhat different, the composer has created a score that is not only foreboding and dramatic in places but also has within it a softer and more emotive side, a gentle and calming musical persona is presented by Giacchino. I however am not saying this is the best thing since sliced bananas, as I felt after initially listening to it the score at times lacked something, I can’t really put my finger on it at the moment but it sounded strange and maybe out of place for a PLANET OF THE APES movie, maybe I am just accustomed to the original scores and because of the high quality of Goldsmith’s original work specifically, nothing else will do, if you understand what I mean. I suppose I felt a little disappointed in Giacchino’s contributions to the movie, as I was expecting something that was special and powerful, at times the thematic quality of the work is a little sparse and underdeveloped, and then suddenly we get a flurry of harsh sounding activity which soon subsides leaving this listener for one bewildered and even waiting for it to continue or develop into a bigger and bolder piece.
As I say this is just personal preference here, check the score out and make up your own mind. The work includes some choral work as well as fully symphonic passages, but even here I was a little underwhelmed, I personally thought the chanting or grunting voices could have been a throwback from a rejected track from a Morricone western, the scores saving grace comes from its more subdued and delicate sounding cues such as APES TOGETHER STRONG, but even this smacks at being something akin to the watch melody from a few dollars more, it is charming enough and yes Giacchino does develop the central theme of the melody adding swelling strings and lilting woodwind which eventually melt away and give way to strings taking the core melody on and upwards supported by faraway and melancholy sounding horns. But, just as this fragile sounding piece has developed and is beginning to invade one’s mind, it comes to an abrupt end, with booming percussion heralding scratchy sounding violin and tense strings that are moved along by fierce brass flourishes enhanced by fearsome use of more percussion and low swirling strings that create a mod of apprehension and uncertainty. Please don’t think I am dis-respecting Mr Giacchino, that is not the case, in fact alongside the subdued cues such as THE HATING GAME, PARADISE FOUND and MIGRATION, there were also a couple that caught my ear, PLANET OF ESCAPES for example and also the END CREDITS, which I suppose is an overture of sorts but at the end of the movie, and one that contains a number of the scores principal themes. I have no doubt that WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES will be a great success at the box office and will also do well when it is eventually issued on DVD around Christmas time, but I am not sure that soundtrack fans will remember much of Giacchino’s score, I don’t think in 50 years’ time or even in 5 years’ hence we will be talking about it and giving it the same respect as Goldsmiths work within the original ape movie series. So, as I say listen and make up your own mind, but I was not bowled over at all.