Soundtrack Review: The Predator (2018)

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The Predator (2018) is the latest entry in the Predator franchise, serving as a direct sequel to Predator 2 (the film ignores Predators (2010)). The score for this film was composed by Henry Jackman, who has established himself as one of today’s top composers by fusing his classical training and his experience as a successful record producer and creator of electronic music. His work includes Captain PhillipsX-Men: First Class and Captain America: Winter Soldier; Kingsman: The Golden Circle; Wreck-It-Ralph, and Oscar-winner Big Hero 6. His most recent work can be heard in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Captain America: Civil War, and Kong; Skull Island.

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Given that this is a Predator film, some of the musical elements are predictable. There is a notable martial quality to a lot of the music, exemplified by heavy brass and fast, driving rhythms (not quite to the level that Hans Zimmer has been known to employ, but similar) during the action sequences. However next to this is a level of delicacy that you would not expect to find. Jackman makes a healthy use of the strings and woodwinds throughout the score and it provides for some refreshing musical ‘breathers’ in between the bombastic moments.

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Two examples include ‘Arrival’ (the opening cue) and ‘Rory’ (the theme for McKenna’s son). I remember it surprised me greatly, sitting in the theater, when the film started with the sound of strings (I was expecting a musical ‘bang’ right from the start). To be sure, the music quickly moves into more energetic territory, but I do feel that it says something that the score started with a quieter melody (somewhat fitting as the film opens with a view of space). And ‘Rory’ might just be the cue I like best out of the entire soundtrack. Beginning with the piano and moving into strings and woodwinds, ‘Rory’ is a perfect theme for McKenna’s autistic son. It begins hesitantly (as Rory as just been tormented by some bullies) but then grows with confidence as the young kid demonstrates his abilities by resetting multiple chess boards.

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Two more cues that I’d like to highlight briefly are ‘Project Stargazer’ and ‘Beautiful Specimen.’ Both cues take place when Dr. Bracket  (Olivia Munn) is taken to see the captured Predator and contain that martial quality I referred to earlier. My favorite moment from these two comes in ‘Project Stargazer’; the music notably peaks at the moment when Bracket views the captured alien for the first time (a nice example of how the music can reflect plot developments).

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Listening to the soundtrack apart from the film has reaffirmed one thing for me: Henry Jackman’s score makes The Predator a better film than it would have been without it. Of course good music can only take a film so far, but Jackman certain put in a very good effort.

What do you think of the score for The Predator? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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