[Movies] Five Years of Epic Film Scores

The recent, and sad, death of composer John Barry has inspired me to revisit my collection of film scores, and to share with you some of the albums from the last five years that I’ve grown to love. Not all accompany decent films, even fewer were recognised by the Academy. Some are just downright populist, but all are a fine listen. And listen you can, but only after reading the wordy bit…

Casino Royale (2006) – David Arnold
Best Track: City Of Lovers
Another beautiful Bond sountrack from a man who I really wish would take on more Hollywood projects. This score fuses punchy action sequences with heart-rendingly  beautiful romantic themes for the scenes in Venice. Brilliant leaves the famous Bonf motifs alone until the very final cue.

Atonement (2007) – Dario Marianelli
Best Track: Elegy For Dunkirk
A richly deserved Oscar for Dario Marianelli should point you towards the quality of this excellent score. Makes cunning use of a typewriter in a several early cues, and brilliants weaves in military choral singing in the stunning Elegy for Dunkirk.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – Hans Zimmer
Best Track: At Wit’s End
Picks up the themes composed by Klaus Badelt in the first movie and blows them to epic proportions for this third movie in the franchise. Knows when to play things subtley but still delivers the epic Zimmer punch in the big moments.

Rambo (2008) – Brian Tyler
Best Track: Rambo Theme
A remarkable piece of work that transcends the threadbare narrative of the film it plays alongside. Like so much of Brian Tyler’s work, the score is far better than the movie. The opening theme in particular is beautiful.

Dark Knight (2008) – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Best Track: Social Experiment
A stunning dual effort from Hans Zimmer, who’s honking, evil action cues are simply out of this world, and Newton-Howard, who gives a delicate, fragile edge to scenes like those with Commissioner Gordon and his family.

Transformers: Revenge Of the Fallen (2009) – Steve Jablonsky
Best Track: Prime
Picks up right where the anthemically hummable first movie left off. Some great themes, used well and with suitably over-the-top orchestration.

Avatar (2009) – James Horner
Best Track:  Becoming One of “The People”, Becoming One with Neytiri
At teams twee and tree-huggingly smug, James Horner’s epic accompaniment to the highest grossing movie of all time nevertheless delivers the big moments just as well as the multi-million dollar CGI visuals.

Kick-Ass (2010) – Marius De Vries, Ilan Eshkeri, Henry Jackman and John Murphy
Best Track: Strobe (Adagio in D Minor)
A bizarre collaboration between four artists yields the surprise stand-out work of the last year. The main Kick-Ass theme is used cleverly throughout, and each composer delivers something different, while the four all fuse their themes effectively. John Murphy re-uses two of his standout works from previous films, including Strobe, a rethink of the climactic cue from Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.

Inception (2010) – Hans Zimmer
Best Track: Dream Is Collapsing
Zimmer takes the honking, grinding menace of the Dark Knight to the next level, with a score as dark and mind-bending as its source material. Disturbing yet perfectly listenable.

Tron Legacy (2010) – Daft Punk
Best Track: Flynn Lives
Another surprise hit from the last year. The French electronica duo fuse synth leads and arpeggios with an 80+ piece orchestra to create a truly stunning score. Less Dust Brothers than I was expecting, with soaring strings and sparingly used synths on many tracks giving this a high quality feel.

And now here they all are, in the order you see above, mixed together for your listening pleasure (please excuse the YouTube-yness of this, SoundCloud had a copyright fit)…

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