Scores of 2008 - What's been and what's left to come

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Darth_Vader-Anakin, Aug 31, 2008.

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  1. Darth_Vader-Anakin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 3
    I think we can all agree that 2008 has been an excellent year for film scores... Ok, so maybe not. It's actually been quite terrible in some respects. The music coming out of mainstream Hollywood seems to be deteriorating bit by bit, year by year. 2008 has been no different with only a handful of mildly interesting soundtracks. This is one of the reasons I've been trying much harder to look for scores outside of Hollywood -- foreign films, video games, television, documentaries, etc. And you know what, there is still a wealth of good music being written out there. So what has stood out this year -- both in Hollywood and elsewhere?

    Alone in the Dark composed by Olivier DeRiviere. Although I've read the game ambitious yet abysmal, the same can't be said of DeRiviere's score. Heavily utilizing a Bulgarian choir, the music is both eerie and epic. The strait orchestral writing is also quite accomplished (I only wish the drumming was cut back a bit). It's too bad the game didn't have a budget to hire an actual orchestra to perform the score, as the midi instruments diminishes the sound somewhat -- the choir however is real.

    The Happening composed by James Newton Howard. I think this is one of the weaker JNH scores for Shyamalan, but considering the quality of their other collaborations, that doesn't mean too much. Howard's music is still excellent. It's dark, brooding, and at times unnerving. The suite at the end of the album is my favorite piece of music this yet this year.

    Gake no Ue no Ponyo composed by Joe Hisaishi. As far as I'm concerned, this is easily the best thing written so far this year. While the score and film are not as dramatic as the last three offered up by animator Miyazaki and composer Hisaishi, the music is still nothing short of top notch. There are 6-7 themes and motifs all used is throughout in several permutations. There's even some Korngoldian swashbuckling music presented here. Most of the score however is lighter and concentrates on flowing strings and woodwinds. This is the one album that I recommend everyone pick up. As far as I can find, it can only be imported from Japan at this time, so someplace like Amazon.co.jp would be a good place to look for it.

    Speedracer composed by Michael Giacchino. This is album is fun. Plain and simple. It sounds like Giacchino wrote it on a sugar rush.

    Standard Operating Procedure composed by Danny Elfman. "Wanted" and "Hellboy II" both contain their share of good music, but overall they don't do much for me. This delicate score to Errol Morris's documentary about Abu Ghraib Prison is interesting and hypnotic.

    Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate Continuum composed by Joel Goldsmith. The music that Goldsmith has written for these two direct to video releases is great orchestral fare. This is the kind of action adventure music that movies like Iron Man should be getting.

    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed composed by Mark Griskey. Griskey did an excellent job of sounding like Williams but brought some of his own ideas to the table as well. I can't wait to hear the entire score when the game comes out next month.

    And yes, I did intentionally leave off Indiana Jones. After the initial excitement of a new John Williams score wore off, I realized that there isn't much there outside a few tracks. Technically is probably better written than all the scores above (save for Ponyo), but there is so little for me to enjoy anymore.

    Some of the scores I'm looking forward to: Marianelli's The Soloist, Desplat's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, James Newton Howard's Definace, Doyle's Igor, and I'm sure there are many more than I'm forgetting.

    So what has everyone else enjoyed from this year so far and what are you most looking forward to?


  2. Kwenn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2001
    star 5
    Clone Wars was sadly disapponting where The Force Unleashed worked; if in doubt, just sneak a peek over Williams' shoulder, 'cause you're not going to get better than the best.

    Star Wars aside, I enjoyed Ben Foster's Torchwood score; I'm a big Doctor Who/Torchwood fan anyway, and the album had some great action pieces, as well as some surprisingly beautiful motifs. "Owen's Theme" in particular mixes a driving beat with a tender melody that works in its simplicity.

    I personally haven't paid much attention to many other scores this year; I found The Dark Knight to be very bland (although the film itself was excellent) with too much repetition of melodies from Batman Begins without really expanding on the main theme. Indiana Jones was fun primarily because it was Indiana Jones, though I admit I'm quite taken with "Irina's Theme". Simple, yet effective. And although it doesn't seem like it should be, Kung Fu Panda was surprisingly fun, with some typically epic Hans Zimmer moments... and any album that ends with "Kung Fu Fighting" isn't bad.

    I just wish The Force Unleashed would find a full release. It sorely deserves one.
  3. Darth_Vader-Anakin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 3
    I've heard quite a bit of people talk about the music to Dr. Who, but I've yet to check it out. There always seems to be something else that I want to buy instead.
  4. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Goldsmith's efforts have indeed been excellent, especially CONTINUUM. This man should be doing feature films.

    Looking forward to PONYO.

    ALONE IN THE DARK is good but I don't think as highly of it as you seem to.

    SPEED RACER is very fun but Giacchino's "ROAR! Overture" from CLOVERFIELD is much more of a highlight this year and has gotten far more listens from me.

    THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is the best Horner has done since THE NEW WORLD.
  5. CaptSparrow Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2006
    star 4
    I didn't enjoy Prince Caspian (the score) as much as the original; however, with more listening and time I may grow to like it more. The same thing happened with LWW, it took me a while until I really wanted to listen to it all.

    Get Smart (from what I heard in the movie) was an okay score.
  6. Well_Of_Souls Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 2001
    star 5
    My favorite scores of the year have all come from Elfman: Standard Operating Procedure, Wanted, and Hellboy II.

    Can't say I'm really looking forward to anything else this year, except for Doug Adams' LOTR book and the Indy trilogy re-release of course.
  7. -Commander_Thigh- Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 8, 2004
    star 4
    My favorite scores have been Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones, although both suffer from being sequels in that most of their greatness can be attributed to the original films' scores.

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