Is it just me...

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Strilo, Oct 17, 2009.

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  1. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    ...or have the last few years been really weak for good solid orchestral film scores? I don't really know if it's that they are still out there and I am missing them or what, but it just feels like not much out there is coming out new that is interesting or exciting. Too much these days seems to be the old Media Ventures approach. One exception seems to be Michael Giacchino. He's everywhere. Thoughts on the state of orchestral film scores lately?
  2. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    You're right, but I don't think it's just the last few years. With only a few exceptions, things have weak since pretty much the mid-90s.
  3. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    See now that I completely disagree with. There have been fantastic scores from Williams, Howard Shore, Zimmer and others in that time.
  4. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
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    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    Scores have been, on the overall, a little weak lately.
  5. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    It has been a weak lot. I don't even remember who won the Oscar this year. I think the last truly great score was Dark Knight but that recycled a lot of Batman Begins' themes.
  6. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    And funnily enough I thought Batman Begins' score was forgettable...
  7. CloneUncleOwen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    What I'm not seeing are the great thematic compositions, like, well, STAR WARS.
    Each character was a melodic subject-- Vader, Luke, Leia. Composers like John Barry,
    John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith had this form down pat. Scores now are formulaic;
    big sound for big scene, small sound for small scene. Danny Elfman could churn these
    out like piece work, which, of course, is the problem. With few exceptions, if you've
    heard one Danny Elfman score, you've heard them all; tired, repetitious cliches.
    I'd pay extra admission just to hear a score that didn't have almost endless sub-woofer
    rumble and screeching cymbal crashes. Many film scores have nice movements and elements,
    but the entire score never comes together or works.

    Maybe it's not the composers that are the problem, but the nature of the films. They just
    don't lend themselves to decent composition.
  8. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Sure, but not much more than a few a year.

    I'll grant you that 2007 sucked; the only score I cared for enough to buy was The Bourne Ultimatum, and that was mostly a retread of old material.

    But last year, I thought David Arnold's Quantum of Solace was fantastic - in some ways superior to Casino Royale. And The Incredible Hulk was quite good, too. Indy 4, though paling in comparison to its predecessors, I still enjoyed far more than Williams's prequel or Potter scores. And TDK, though not much on album, WAS very effective in the film itself.

    And yeah, Giacchino seems to be carrying the year 2009 by himself, but he did deliver TWO great scores. And Avatar may very well give James Horner the chance to do some fantastic self-plagiarizing.;)

    But I don't see these cycles as anything new. Looking at the wiki list of films in 1998, nothing stands out except The Mask of Zorro, and likewise only Titanic stands out in 1997.

    I agree, though, that someone besides Giacchino needs to step up to the plate next year. Elfman and Silvestri are still around, but they always seem phone it in and/or wind up with a film that doesn't lend itself to a compelling score (note Silvestri's workmanlike efforts on crap like GI-Joe and Night at the Museum).
  9. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    I don't pay nearly as much attention to film music as other people, but all the recent ones I got were already mentioned and I'm only interested in one or two others but want to wait until I've seen the movies.
    The StarWars/Indy/Back2theFuture-type scores don't even seem to be in demand anymore in today's movies. Or do the movies not lend themselves to those anymore? I'm not sure.

    Speaking of Giacchino, it's sad when a movie that doesn't have a score at all still ends up having a better score than most other movies - by that I mean Roar! The Cloverfield Overture :p Though I even got the soundtracks for LOST instead of many film scores.
  10. HL&S Magistrate Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2001
    star 6
    I completely agree about these last couple of years in terms of scores. However I do notice fluctuations in good years and bad years. We've had droughts before. Though that's not to say you can't find a solid work here and there, but it just seems you have to dig more for them.

    Minimalism seems to be big (lol) right now. Can't say I approve.
  11. Cerrabore Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 4
    Most scores are awful these days, but I don't think the typical magic orchestra is what's needed. Look at scores like Jonny Greenwood's There Will Be Blood - totally outside the box but so full of life. It's that sort of innovation that's rare in Hollywood these days.
  12. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    That's a good point. The movies released recently don't have that epic scale befitting such a score.
  13. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I don't think that's an accurate concept. Home Alone is not epic at all, yet it has a brilliant score. Many many small intimate films have good scores.
  14. CloneUncleOwen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    So, excluding the nature or scale of the film, the composers are responsible for the
    uninspiring work being offered. That seems fair enough. It would be analogous to an
    artist blaming his materials for a lackluster painting - "My results are shoddy because
    I'm painting on wood instead of canvas," or "I usually work in oil, not acrylic."
    They blame the medium that they have challanged, then take their commission.

    And you've proved your own original post about scores seeming weak for films made in
    the "last few years". The score for HOME ALONE was composed two decades ago.

  15. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I was merely using that score as an example of an orchestral score for a non-epic film. I could easily have said the score for Were The World Mine, because it's recent, but it's not orchestral and it's also a musical.
  16. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    I don't think it's a matter of epicness. Indy and BttF don't even have much of it, they're mostly fun adventures, and so is Home Alone. Also, most of the movies that simply aimed at being "huge" still didn't make me want to run out - well, log onto amazon :p - and buy their scores.
  17. CloneUncleOwen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    STRILO - "example of an orchestral score"

    I see what you mean. Your original post was specific in reguard to
    orchestral scores, and I was referring to scores in general.

    A contemporary composer I enjoy is Graeme Revell. He specializes in
    moderate pictures, but ranges from the quirky (GRINDHOUSE) to
    the blockbuster (LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER) genre.

  18. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I'd even argue that until the climax of RotJ (and maybe not even there), the Star Wars trilogy isn't necessarily 'epic' either.

    If anything, I'd say the continuing quest for epic-ness has derailed and ruined a lot of high-concept/genre filmmaking and scoring. Every film climax these days seems to 'require' a big chorus to make the orchestra sound more important.

    The original BttF is pretty much the inverse of what most film scores do these days. The film itself is actually pretty small-scale, and not incredibly action-packed. But the score makes it feel as big as Star Wars.
  19. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    It sure does. More innovative film scoring to the people!

    Star Wars is visually operatic, which makes anything else than an operatic musical score highly inappropriate. It's basically Wagner, sans the fat lady.
    Not many other movies out there like it these days, are there? TLOTR, I suppose, and probably a couple more that I can't seem to remember for the moment.
    What's my point? Well, I suppose I mean to say that operatic movies tend to lend themselves to more powerful and memorable musical scores.
    Like westerns!





    Opera - it's on the prairie
    /LM
  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, I think it's more a case of huge, operatic films being on abit of a quiet spell of late. 1977-2007 or so saw a ton of operatic movies: the original trilogy, Platoon, ET, Predator, the Terminator films, Jurassic Park, the Alien films, Hook, the prequels, LOTR, Gladiator, X-Men 1 and 2, Spider-Man 1 and 2, the Batman films, the Matrix trilogy, a crack at Narnia, 300, and CTHD to name some of them. Hollywood's basically taking a breather from !HUGE EPIC! at the moment, which sucks for scores, but given the ratio of hugely ambitious and actually good directors, it's really not a surprise.

    And I don't think of Home Alone as a small film; not really. Sure, it takes place largely in a single building and has a cast of maybe fifteen characters, but the characters are all definitely larger than life and the score fits them.
  21. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    On the whole, film scores have been demoted from "lead actor" to "secondary supporting actor". The "art" appears to have been lost - or if not lost then ignored. I agree completely, scores seem to have lost their way. It's not the composers' fault by any stretch of the imagination, but rather the LACK of imagination from the film-makers.
  22. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I would put forth the Harry Potter series music so far as an example of this cavalier attitude towards film scores, even in a series that started out with a strong emphasis on amazing music. Look where we wound up for the sixth film.
  23. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    I agree wholeheartedly
  24. TenorAprentice Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2002
    star 4
    I've also noticed that Action movies have been doing much more rock and/or pop music than in the past (think Zombieland and Inglorious B*stards, Boondock Saints II, for a few examples), so it could be that producers are cutting the budget and going w/ cheaper alternatives.

    I'm looking forward to the score for Sherlock Holmes this winter... It's the right kind of movie, and Zimmer is composing (well, getting the credit for the sweat shop of young composers he runs, that is). It could be great...

    Christmas Carol could also be good (Silvestri), and I have high hopes for Avatar (Horner). Maybe that new Twilight movie, but I never saw nor heard the first one, so I have no idea if that score was any good. That seems like the right kind of movie, though.
  25. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I'd be interested in Silvestri's Christmas Carol. That sounds really cool.
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