Tag Archives: Michael Giacchino



Yet another movie based upon a character or characters from Marvel comics, DOCTOR STRANGE is set to be another success at the box office this Autumn/Winter season. The score is by the composer who seems to be flavour of the moment Michael Giacchino. He of course is the composer who breathed a new life and sound into the STAR TREK franchise with the re-boot versions of the journeys of the star ship enterprise, in STAR TREK, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and STAR TREK BEYOND (not that the franchise needed reviving as it has remained a firm fav for many years), he also has replaced Alexandre Desplat on the STAR WARS spin off ROGUE ONE which is set to hit screens very soon and it was Giacchino who also provided wonderful scores for two pretty dire movies JUPITER ASCENDING and JOHN CARTER. He has also followed in the footsteps of a few illustrious composers on re-boots of movies or at least spin off’s etc. Such as DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and JURRASIC WORLD. Every project he has worked on being stamped with his own style and given its own musical identity, his scores are also varied and he is easily able to adapt to every genre or scenario that he is given. DOCTOR STRANGE I felt is something of a disappointment, the score seems to lack any originality as it could be by any number of composers who work in Hollywood today scoring movies such as this, I am however not saying it is not a pleasing or likeable soundtrack as there are a number of nice or interesting moments which I have to say are the more subdued parts of the work with some rather un expected harpsichord being added at certain points, but it is very much in a style and sound that we have all heard before, powerful and booming percussive elements forming a foundation to low sounding brass with swirling strings and also tense sounding woodwinds and action led cues which to be honest all melt into one, the fusion of electronic and symphonic works well to a point, but even then it is all of a muchness and sounds no different from the last STAR TREK score that he worked on with a reoccurring theme raising its head every so often and being given a varying arrangement or orchestration. I know that composers do become typecast in the same way that actors do, it’s like “HEY HE DID A GOOD JOB ON STAR TREK, LETS GIVE HIM DOCTOR STRANGE” or maybe another sci fi superhero type movie. So, for me this much-anticipated score is a rather damp squib, sorry and all that but it’s a score that you will listen to and think “YEP ok NEXT”.



This summer is proving to be one of blockbusters, which I suppose is nothing unusual at all. STAR TREK BEYOND is one of the latest big movies to hit the screens. This is the thirteenth movie in the STAR TREK franchise, and it is a franchise of films that have seen the musical talents of numerous composers employed upon their various scenarios. The last trio of movies which are reboots of the original films and characters have had scores by rising musical Hollywood star Michael Giacchino. I personally loved the way in which the composer interweaved the original STAR TREK TV theme into his first two soundtracks and also at the same time brought something new and fresh to the party with his own highly inspiring and lavishly lush and dramatic take on trek music, via his thundering STAR TREK theme and also his wonderfully melodic and haunting thematic properties. His latest offering for BEYOND is certainly no different and I think in this score he has done even more in the way of adding what I can only label as the Giacchino sound to the proceedings and putting his own musical fingerprint upon it. Lets get this straight from the start I am certainly no Trekkie, and as Jerry Goldsmith once said “I DON’T GET IT” or at least 97 percent of the stories anyway. All I know is that the stories are certainly exciting and at times original but also they for me can be a little confusing. The scores however I have always enjoyed and the last three by Giacchino have all in my opinion been worthy additions to the long list of musical credits for the series. Giacchino as I have already said manages to retain and incorporate themes and sounds that are already established within the series but the composer also adds new and refreshing leitmotifs, nuances and hints of themes throughout each one of his powerful and dynamic soundtracks. I particularly enjoyed INTO DARKNESS, but I have to say that BEYOND is pretty well up there with the best cues from its predecessor. This latest work contains Giacchino’s stock action cues which are no that different from the composers two previous excursions into STAR TREK territory. The score opens with LOGO AND PROSPER, where the composer employs his own STAR TREK theme and hints at the original Alexander Courage Television theme, but this reference is short lived and restricted to just a small cluster of notes before it returns to the composers own take on the theme. Track number two THANK YOUR LUCKY STAR DATE also commences with the Giacchino central theme at first ushered in by faraway sounding horns which always for me evokes the work of Jerry Goldsmith, the cue continues with a lilting piano solo version of the theme which is then taken on by the string section that give it a warm and sumptuous sound.

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Track number three NIGHT ON THE YORKTOWN is too something of a departure from what can be called traditional Trek music, again it is romantic lush and filled with melody that is carried by the string section which is bolstered and supported by choir. This is like a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned the theme soars and develops to create a piece that is in a word enchanting. Track number four DANCE OF THE NEBULA is a return to the drama and the tension that we associate with the STAR TREK movies, but although this is essentially an action cue there is within it a core theme that is highly melodious and haunting. SWARM REACTION track number five, is a real powerhouse action led cue, bold and rasping brass wraps itself around thundering percussion with jagged punctuation from more brass and driving strings are the order of the day here, it is a relentless and overwhelming cue that certainly does not disappoint. Track number six HITTING THE SAUCER A LITTLE HARD is another example of fast furious and traumatically tense writing by Giacchino who literally throws everything into the mix with this one, which is one of the longest cues on the soundtrack with a running time of just over 6 mins. For me it evoked the writing styles of Horner, Goldsmith and Williams which of course cant be a bad thing, as well as a fast and non stop mood there is also a softer side to the cue in which horns, strings and a celestial sounding choir combine to bring us an epic rendition of Giacchino’s TREK theme. Ok, my opinion this is good, no its great its everything I expected and more, again the composer has evoked memories of past TREK scores, reminded us of his forays into the franchise and also has introduced us to fresh and original thematic material to savour and enjoy. Other cues of note and interest are JAYLAH DAMAGE, IN ARTIFACTS AS IN LIFE and the alluring A LESSON IN VULCAN MINERALOGY to name but three, in fact every cue has something and every cue is a highlight of this score. Do not think about this just go get it NOW.



Composer Michael Giacchino has steadily risen to the top of his profession, very much like fellow composer Brian Tyler, Giacchino I think in a couple of decades from now will be regarded in a very similar way as composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein are thought of today. Giacchino first came to my notice when he scored the video game MEDAL OF HONOUR and has ever since that score been I think earmarked as it were to achieve and be involved with interesting and also high profile projects in film. The new STAR TREK movies coming to mind instantly and also DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES plus there have been some not so big box office hits such as JOHN CARTER which although was not exactly looked upon with a great deal of affection by cinema goers and critics its musical score still served well the images on screen and in fact is probably one of the most memorable things about the movie. The composer has the ability to adapt and alter his style and sound which each and every project that he is involved with. One of his latest scores is in my opinion possibly one of his best or at least his best to date, JUPITER ASCENDING as a movie is somewhat disappointing and has been met with mixed feelings from the press and public alike, sad to say many of the reviews and opinions I have seen have been mostly negative, due mainly to performances of certain actors, which is a shame because if the film fades into obscurity then so at times does its score and anything else to do with it. The soundtrack is a mammoth and magnificent work, Giacchino literally pulling out all the stops, it is a sweeping and lush soundtrack filled with rich and vibrant thematic material and enhanced by driving action pieces that are supported and enriched by choir and solo voice performances, plus there is a lot of music here, the soundtrack being released as a 2 disc set. The first disc opens with four movements of music from the movie, well I say from the movie, these were actually composed before any film had been shot, Giacchino writing his wonderful themes in 2013, the opening four tracks which have a duration of nearly 18 minutes are gloriously thematic the composer being able to create them without any restrictions of timings etc, the opening cue or first movement beginning with a fanfare of sorts purveyed by brass underlined and supported by percussion and timpani, sounding like a grand announcement that could rival the opening for 20TH Century Fox. The brass flourishes fade and give way to a calmer and more subdued and tranquil atmosphere which is given a serene and near celestial mood by the composers use of choir and boy soprano, the soprano sounding slightly nervous and uncertain as if it is worried about being part of this grand affair that is about to commence.


The second movement is a plaintive and emotive piece at its outset, a lilting and haunting theme being performed at first by solo violin that oozes with fragile melancholy and tenderness, the theme is then taken on and given a fuller working by the string section where we hear it begin to fully develop, the strings then hand the theme to the choral section and finally to a solo woodwind performance underlined by restrained strings. The third movement is in my opinion the most appealing with Giacchino evoking an atmosphere and sound which is exciting and exhilarating and very much akin to the style that he employed within his scores for the STAR TREK movies, at times abrasive brass stabs and driving unrelenting strings combine with booming percussion, martial timpani and Omen like dark malevolent chanting to create a piece that is not only imposing, fearsome and stimulating but one that also remains attractive and enticing throughout. The final movement too is attractive and beguiling, with Giacchino employing rich melodious adagio type strings that are warming and full combining these with heavenly choral contributions. At first the piece is fragile, apprehensive and delicate but soon builds into a romantic and highly emotional composition, the strings being enhanced by choir and further underlined by subdued brass, the boy soprano returns and creates a solitary and slightly darker atmosphere with the three note motif that later in the score will develop into the theme for the central character Jupiter, this gentle but slightly unsettling vocal leads the cue to its conclusion. After these four introductory movements we dive headlong into the composers glorious and affecting score which turns, twists and drives forward with a forthright intenseness that is hard, powerful and fast, during the work we hear again in various guises all of the principal themes that the composer introduces in the first four cues, but he develops and elaborates these further creating a score that is simply enormous. Saying this the score does also have its more romantic and wistful moments, flyaway strings, harmonious brass and woods at certain points creating a Williams-esque sound and also a sound that is so reminiscent of the late Jerry Goldsmith it is uncanny, but I have to say although there are similarities here and we all will obviously make comparisons between Goldsmith, Williams and even Barry (track number-10 THE TITUS CLIPPER) we are treated to all of this plus there is still the originality and the individual musical voice and fingerprint of Giacchino shining through all the way. As in the powerhouse cues SCRAMBLED EGGS, THE HOUSES OF ABRASAX, I HATE MY LIFE and THE ABRASAX FAMILY TREE to name but a handful. The score is emotive and also forebodingly forthright a listening experience that should not be missed. This is an essential purchase so do not hesitate go buy it NOW…….. images (28)



A multiplying nation of genetically evolved apes led by the highly intelligent and strong willed chimpanzee Caesar become increasingly threatened by a group of humans that are survivors of a devastating virus that had been unleashed on the world a decade previous to the events in this movie. The two sides manage to reach a fragile peace to live together or at least tolerate each other, but this is a short-lived state of affairs, as both humans and apes are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as the planets dominant species. This new series of ape movies are very different from the series that began in the 1960,s with Charlton Heston and Roddy Mc Dowell, they are much darker and unnervingly realistic, even darker than Tim Burtons take on the franchise. Patrick Doyle provided an excellent score for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and now we have a wonderfully dramatic, vibrant and also in places melodic and melancholy work from composer Michael Giacchino. He of course has fast become the man to score the latest blockbuster sci-fi movies etc and his rise to the A list of composers has been steady but also well deserved. Within his latest offering for DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, I do hear certain little musical references and maybe the odd nod of acknowledgement to Jerry Goldsmith, which I suppose is only natural as it was Goldsmith who indeed laid down the blueprint for Ape music in the original PLANET OF THE APES all those years ago and it is probably Goldsmiths original score that has stood the test of time better than any other of the original Ape series soundtracks, because it was so far ahead of its time when written. Giacchino has composed a score that works on so many levels, it is as I have said dramatic and vibrant, but it also has to it a lush sound at times with a richly melodic foundation in a number of the cues, the music relays an atmosphere that is sombre and dark for the majority of the time and also posses a certain ethnic resonance but does also manage to purvey to the listener a mood that is fragile and emotive which is tinged with melancholy and an underlying sound running through it that implies all is not gloom and despondency hinting that maybe there is some hope for the Earth or is there? The compact disc opens with a cue that is poignant and subdued, solo piano acts as an introduction to low and somewhat unsettling strings, the darkness of the strings and also the light and almost dream like motif that is being picked out by the piano seem to compliment each other and also combine to usher in a sprinkling of choir, with piano still stealthily present acting as a chink of light in a atmosphere that is dark and a little unsettling with the three note motif seemingly holding the composition together, the cue comes to an abrupt end with a menacing and sharp sounding cello.

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Track number 2, LOOK WHO’S STALKING. A half heard and subdued opening from low strings is suddenly abruptly interrupted by percussive stabs, these then melt away giving rise to various percussive punctuation as swirling strings start to build to establish a tense and formidable sound these strings introduce chaotic voices that segue into what is really the first real action theme from the score, which consists of driving strings and percussion being flung headlong by brass. This up-tempo action piece is short lived and soon fades giving way to more tense atmospheric sounds that bring the cue to its close. Track number 3, APE PROCESSIONAL is really the first time that we hear a fully noble and uplifting melodic theme performed by the string section with assistance and support from brass and percussion that combine to create a rich and warm sounding piece. Solo harp opens the piece, and is soon joined by rich sounding strings the composer adding faraway sounding horns to the proceedings, the strings swell and establish the theme further which relays hope, melancholy and a touch of romanticism. Solo piano is introduced towards the end of the cue to create even more emotion. Within this score we can hear certain musical references to maybe Goldsmith, or is that just something that I wanted to hear? It is a work that is dramatic and powerful but also has to it a potent lushness that conveys so much emotion and sadness. It is atonal, majestic and above all entertaining. Worth a listen.

John Carter.


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.