Category Archives: Film Composer

Soundtrack Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

The soundtrack for John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum, is now available for purchase from Varèse Sarabande. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, skilled assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn. The score for this film was once again composed by Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Atomic Blonde), who to date has worked on every film in the John Wick series.

Regarding John Wick: Chapter 3, Bates had this to say:

“While his fight, stunt, and weapon work is second to none, Chad [Stahelski] embraces original music with equal passion – setting the table for Joel Richard and I to experiment and create a distinct “sound” for the John Wick world. Five years ago, we cranked “Killing Strangers” at concert volume in my studio. And now John Wick is a trilogy. Working with Chad has been a truly amazing experience.”

Having now seen all three John Wick films, I have to agree that the music for these films are very distinct indeed. One thing I like about John Wick: Chapter 3 and the series overall is that the music sounds the same across all three installments. As soon as you hear the first beat of music, you know you’ve come back to the world of assassins and John Wick. I’ve never quite been able to define the nature of the music in firm words, but the words that come to mind the most often are “techno-futuristic.” The music Bates creates weaves into the background and fight scenes almost seamlessly, creating this edgy, near-futuristic world that’s inhabited by Wick and a seemingly endless legion of assassins.

There’s some nice twists in this score also. “The Adjudicator” has an almost militaristic sound (fitting given the role she plays in the film) while “Elder Tent Offering,” quite ironically given what happens in that scene, has some of the most lyrical music in the score. But I think one of my favorites is “Winter at the Continental,” which is essentially a techno-remix of Vivaldi’s “Winter.” I remember hearing “Winter” played straight before the fight began, but I either didn’t realize or didn’t remember that there was also this fast-paced remix, which is really fun to listen to, since Bates takes Vivaldi and “modernizes” it for Wick’s world.

I really like the music Bates has created for John Wick: Chapter 3. It’s edgy, it’s fast-paced, but it also slows down when necessary, and it fits the film’s world perfectly. I love how Bates can insert slow moments out of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about them since most of the film is devoted to fights, but the slow moments are just as beautiful.

Let me know what you think about the music for John Wick: Chapter 3 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Soundtrack Review: Brightburn (2019)

*Note: potentially minor spoilers from some of the track titles

The soundtrack for the upcoming film Brightburn with music by multi-award winning composer Timothy Williams (Wild Horses, Debug, Walking with the Enemy).  became available May 10th. The soundtrack features music from the James Gunn and Kenneth Huang-produced film, which makes its theatrical debut in the United States on Friday, May 24. The film is based on a terrifying premise: What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to humankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? In this horrific take on the classic superhero trope, a couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) adopts a baby who came from the stars. While they attempt to raise the boy (Jackson A. Dunn) to use his powers for good, an evil begins to grow inside that he unleashes.

Regarding the soundtrack for Brightburn, Timothy Williams had the following to say:

“Being able to merge two genres which have never been combined before, superhero and horror, was an amazing experience.  I was thankful for a close collaborative relationship with the director Dave Yarovesky.  We worked on the idea of a main theme at the beginning that would be simple and reflect the emotional investment of hope in the story.  You hear this in a three note piano solo theme.  As Brandon’s power increases, we begin to feel the weight and power of a large orchestra which then bends and distorts with Brandon’s descent into evil.  The low strings and low brass mutate the theme and processed percussion pumps up the tension.  Because Brandon is this kid from another world, I got to develop some unique sounds using a bespoke library for the ROLI which bends and pitches sound as well.  Overall it was a dream come true to create this sound for a new genre film.”

 

While Brightburn is described as a merging of the superhero and horror genres, make no mistake about it, most of the music is firmly entrenched in the horror genre. I love how Timothy Williams works with all of these unique sounds to create uncomfortable sensations that make your skin crawl. Some of the tracks will start “normal” but then twist and warp, likely symbolizing Brandon being slowly corrupted by whatever evil dwells inside him. I appreciate how varied the tracks in this soundtrack are. There are some moments that sound very bright (“Breyer Family” is one such example) while others like “Real Real Bad Things” and especially “Called to the Barn” are very, very dark.

As I listened to the Brightburn soundtrack, I was surprised to hear some passages that sounded reminiscent of the work of James Horner, particularly his score for Aliens. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s fairly common for composers to be inspired by earlier films, and this could be what happened here. And it makes sense too; Aliens sees the characters encountering a mysterious, undoubtedly evil presence (the xenomorphs and the Alien Queen). And Brightburn, from what I can tell, has a similar scenario. The residents of Brightburn encounter a growing evil in their midst.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to the Brightburn soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly music written for a horror film, but there are enough nuances thrown into the music that I enjoy listening to it. Timothy Williams does a great job using different musical textures to create themes that will make your skin crawl in the best way possible. Definitely check out the soundtrack when you get the chance, and make sure to see the film when it comes out this Friday. Afterward, let me know what you think of the film (and its score) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: A Simple Favor (2018)

A Simple Favor premiered in theaters in September of 2018. Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell, the film centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. The soundtrack for this mystery thriller was composed by Theodore Shapiro.

Regarding the soundtrack for A Simple Favor, Shapiro had this to say:

The first thing that was really interesting about working on A Simple Favor was finding the tone of it. It was unusual and very tricky because it’s a mystery and a thriller, but also genuinely funny at the same time. This was an instance in which the music had to match the tone of the film precisely…It couldn’t feel satirical or feel like we were goofing on a genre at all. It had to feel perfectly in sync. (credit to Pop Disciple for this interview excerpt)

Listening to the soundtrack, the first thing that jumped out to me is how symphonic this soundtrack is, surely a result of Shapiro’s classical training as a musician and composer. In the film’s title cue “A Simple Favor,” Shapiro introduces a distinctive motif played on a metallophone that recurs in multiple tracks throughout the score. This is by far one of the most traditional soundtracks I’ve listened to. With the recurring motif, it reminded me of the soundtracks you find in more “classic” films, but that’s not a bad thing at all. For all that I love “modern” film scores that are minimalist, electronic, or a blend of styles, I also will always love scores that hearken back to a bygone era of film.

 

Another thing that sticks out about Shapiro’s score is its resemblance to the music you hear in Hitchcock films. One summary I’ve read describes A Simple Favor as “Hitchcockian” and you can definitely hear the similarities to the “Master of Suspense” in this soundtrack. When the music isn’t playing like a symphony, it’s dripping with suspense in all the right ways. The strings hold out notes and set up tension in a way where at times I can almost visualize what’s going on (and that’s a good sign for a film score).

I admit I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to this score. Theodore Shapiro crafted a soundtrack that is truly a delight for the ears and I might need to check this film out in the future, just to hear this music in context. Let me know what you think about A Simple Favor (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Daniel Pemberton talks Gold (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Gold is a 2016 American crime drama film loosely based on a true story about a fraudulent gold mine established in Indonesia and the aftermath when the fraud is uncovered. The film was directed by Stephen Gaghan and stars Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, and Bryce Dallas Howard. The musical score for Gold was composed by Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, The Man from U.N.C.L.E) and in this video Pemberton talks at length about how he got started with creating the music for this film.

 

Daniel Pemberton explains that his initial concept for the score was the sound of bells (which in themselves can create a myriad of sounds). What fascinated me about Pemberton’s approach to the score is the way he incorporated the sound of the New York Stock Exchange opening bell into the music. That sound is, as Pemberton puts it, the essence of capitalism and greed, which makes it perfect for the score. What’s also interesting is the way the composer manipulates the sound of the stock exchange bell. By altering the sound, the composer can create entirely different effects and meanings. This is one of the reasons Daniel Pemberton is quickly becoming one of my favorite film composers, he can take unusual sounds and instruments and fully incorporate them into the score (and you’d never know unless he told you).

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Let me know what you think about Gold and Daniel Pemberton’s interview in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Daniel Pemberton talks The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

Daniel Pemberton talks Steve Jobs (2015)

Daniel Pemberton talks King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Soundtrack Review: Krypton (season 1)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Krypton Cover

The soundtrack for season 1 of Krypton is now available, having been released on March 8th to coincide with the season 2 premiere. The LP will release on Red/Orange Galaxy vinyl on April 13th for Record Store Day. The album features one of the hottest developing talents within the composing world for TV, Film and Games, Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel, Justice League).

Toprak’s music for Syfy’s Superman prequel, Krypton, follows her score on the Fortnite video game; the most widely played new game in 2018. An average of 8.3 million people were playing Fortnite concurrently in November alone. After her incredible contributions of additional music to DC’s Justice League, Pinar Toprak was chosen to compose the highly anticipated Marvel movie, Captain Marvel. The first female composer to score a major comic book movie, Toprak continues to prove herself as majestic as the superheroes her music exalts.

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The score itself is beautiful and I highly recommend picking it up. Toprak balances a line between science-fiction edginess and orchestral heights. More and more often television series have scores that are equal to film scores and this shows here in the score for Krypton. I particularly liked the tracks “Seeing Kandor for the First Time” and “Welcome to the Fortress.”

Centuries before Truth, Justice and the American Way, the grandfather of Superman, Seg-El, must redeem his family’s honor in DC and SyFy hit television series KRYPTON. With a cosmic evil reaching through time to destroy the House of El before the rise of its heroic scion, can the forbearer of steel prevent the destruction of much more than just his family or is more than just the planet doomed. KRYPTON is executive produced by David S. Goyer (MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy).

Track listing:

1. Seeing Kandor For The First Time (00:50)
2. The Death Of Val El (1:34)
3. Bar Fight (2:41)
4. Welcome To The Fortress (2:18)
5. Your Grandson’s Cape (3:41)
6. Brainiac’s Peeking Through Rhom (2:26)
7. Kem Sweet Talks Ona (1:35)
8. Street People (1:15)
9. Seg Escapes (1:23)
10. Ona Says A Prayer (2:48)
11. Seg In The Wastelands (00:39)
12. Lyta Meditates* (1:13)
13. A Test Of Sibling* (2:12)
14. Let The Trial Begin* (4:34)
15. Meant To Save Superman (00:44)
16. Jayna Shoots The Voice (1:43)
17. Dev Awakes (00:45)
18. Sigil Means Hope (1:45)
19. Bye Bye Brainiac* (7:43)

Let me know what you think of Krypton (and it’s soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Brian Tyler scoring Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians was one of the best romantic comedy films of 2018. The film follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young to attend his best friend’s wedding and discovers Nick comes from an immensely wealthy family. The score for this film was composed by Brian Tyler to accompany a soundtrack full of songs that mostly speak about money (which is a major theme of the movie).

This behind-the-scenes video shows Brian Tyler in the midst of a scoring session for the film. As I’ve said many times, it’s always fun to watch the composer at work, and Tyler is a particular favorite to watch, as you can always tell he’s completely into his work. The pieces covered in this video are “Text Ting Swing” and “Love Theme from Crazy Rich Asians.” I enjoyed listening to both of them, they each feature Brian Tyler’s signature flair and actually made me want to listen to more of the soundtrack.

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I hope you enjoyed this brief, behind-the-scenes look at the scoring of Crazy Rich Asians. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Brian Tyler “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” scoring session (2007)

Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

Brian Tyler talks War (2007)

Brian Tyler talks Rambo (2008)

Brian Tyler “Law Abiding Citizen” scoring sessions (2009)

Brian Tyler “Dragonball Evolution” scoring session (2009)

Brian Tyler talks The Expendables (2010) 

Brian Tyler talks Fast Five (2011)

Brian Tyler “Battle: Los Angeles” (2011) scoring session

Brian Tyler scoring session for Iron Man 3 (2013)

Brian Tyler “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2014) scoring session

Brian Tyler conducting and scoring Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Brian Tyler “Power Rangers” scoring session (2017)

Brian Tyler conducts The Mummy (2017)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Announcing the 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon

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Unbelievably, it is time once again to announce the 4th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon which will be held from June 21-23 2019. I established this blogathon to honor the memory of composer James Horner, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2015. Participation is simple: Choose one of Horner’s film scores and talk about why you like it or what makes it special for you. It doesn’t have to be a detailed analysis (unless you want to go that direction), you don’t even have to talk about the entire score if you don’t want to.

For examples of blogathon entries from years past, I’ve included links to recaps of the past blogathons below.

3rd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Full Recap

2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon Recap!

Remembering James Horner Blogathon: Recap

If you’re not sure which film to choose, here is a link to James Horner’s filmography: James Horner Filmography

You can sign up for the blogathon by filling out the sign up page below. I need the name of your blog, your blog’s URL and the name of the film you’re going to cover. Each film can only be selected twice to avoid too many duplicates. Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to reading your posts in June!