Tag Archives: Henry Jackman

Soundtrack News: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Soundtrack Vol. 1 Available Now!

On April 9th, Marvel Music/Hollywood Records released The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 (Episodes 1-3) with music composed by Henry Jackman on digital. Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of “Avengers: Endgame,” team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience. Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the six-episode series also stars Daniel Brühl as Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.

Though broken up into separate episodes, Jackman’s score for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is quintessential MCU film music (and I’ll call it that despite the streaming format). It has that perfect blend of suspense and action that I’ve come to love in these movies. This music, as with most scores in the MCU, is good at getting you to hold your breath and lean in to hold more, only to knock you back with a sudden burst of sound. The synthetic elements in the music are something of a surprise, but given that this series is set in (pretty much) the present day (time skip notwithstanding), it makes sense that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would need as modern-sounding a soundtrack as possible. This show is meant to be something of a thriller after all, and the music definitely creates that idea.

If this is how good the music is for just the first three episodes, I can’t wait to hear Volume 2, which is due to be released on April 30th.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 Track List

  1. Louisiana Hero (2:14)
  2. Tough Act to Follow (1:16)
  3. Airborne Operation (5:56)
  4. Smithsonian Tribute (0:53)
  5. Nightmares (1:22)
  6. What Do You Want? (1:22)
  7. Pluck Up the Nerve (1:53)
  8. New Agitators (1:13)
  9. The Wrong Guy (1:38)
  10. America’s Sweetheart (1:05)
  11. No Parachute (1:29)
  12. Stakeout (1:39)
  13. Outmatched (2:46)
  14. Safe House (2:41)
  15. Someone You Should Meet (1:09)
  16. Overlooked For Promotion (1:20)
  17. Warranted Attention (1:03)
  18. Fraying Edges (2:04)
  19. Take One For the Team (2:21)
  20. Unnecessary Use of Force (1:48)
  21. Prison Break (4:41)
  22. A Marriage of Convenience (0:32)
  23. A Pure Heart (1:48)
  24. Low Town (1:24)
  25. Attack, Soldier! (1:47)
  26. Breaking Character (2:29)
  27. Bad Science (3:30)
  28. Masked Man (1:20)
  29. Dissent and Disillusionment (1:08)
  30. Radicalized (1:19)
  31. Star Spangled Man – The Captain America Drum Corps (1:44)

Be sure to check out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 as soon as you can!

Have a great day!

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Soundtrack Review: Cherry (2021)

Late last month, Lakeshore Records digitally released the original motion picture soundtrack for Cherry by Henry Jackman. The soundtrack will be available exclusively on Apple Music for 60 days before becoming available to all other DSPs on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

Henry Jackman has established himself as one of today’s top composers by fusing his classical training with his experience as a successful record producer and creator of electronic music. Jackman’s upcoming feature is the anticipated drama from The Russo Brothers, Cherry. He recently completed Jumanji 2, a continuation of the magical board game adventure story, and Detective Pikachu, following the story of the beloved Pikachu Pokémon character starring Ryan Reynolds. His other recent work includes Ralph Breaks the Internet, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature. His other diverse credits include Captain America: Civil War, Kong: Skull Island, Captain Phillips, Big Hero 6, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  

Cherry follows the wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances. Inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name, “Cherry” features Tom Holland in the title role as an unhinged character who drifts from dropping out of college to serving in Iraq as an Army medic and is only anchored by his one true love, Emily (Ciara Bravo). When Cherry returns home a war hero, he battles the demons of undiagnosed PTSD and spirals into drug addiction, surrounding himself with a menagerie of depraved misfits. Draining his finances, Cherry turns to bank robbing to fund his addiction, shattering his relationship with Emily along the way.

Speaking about his score for Cherry, Henry Jackman had the following to say:

Cherry’s soundscape never deviates from the core idea of emulating the internal. It’s music that ebbs and flows depending on the emotions and mental state of the main character grounding the film in Cherry’s subjective experience.

 Directors Joe and Anthony Russo said of Jackman and his score, “This is Henry’s most sublime work. Beautiful, poignant, riotous, devious. Breathtaking in its ability to manifest such complex tones, while unifying them at the same time. He’s truly a master of the craft.” 

The soundtrack for Cherry is definitely one that has subverted all of my expectations. Based on what I know of the film’s plot, I was expecting something that was extremely gritty, rough around the edges, or very action oriented. But Henry Jackman has created something that is none of these things. The music for Cherry is strikingly beautiful, with an orchestral mix that I wouldn’t have expected in a million years. But it’s also got a number of twisted elements at work, several of which I’d like to highlight.

First I want to bring to your attention ‘Carnival of Losers Pt. 1’ and ‘Carnival of Losers Pt 2’. The first iteration of Carnival of Losers will sound like a misnomer, because the piece sounds, for all the world, like a charming waltz with a street carnival vibe (hence the name I’m sure). It’s not until you hear Pt. 2 of Carnival of Losers that you realize the two pieces are mirror images of each other: Pt. 1 takes place before the trauma and Pt. 2 takes place afterward. I say that because Pt. 2 is a muted and twisted version of Pt. 1. It’s set to an almost identical beat as Pt. 1, but it’s clear something terrible has happened between Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.

The most twisted part of all though? That would have to be ‘Star-Mangled Banner’. This piece screamed volumes to me, and likely will to many other people who have had their faith in the government shaken as of late. It takes a while to become recognizable, but there IS in fact a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner in this piece, but one that’s so warped, discordant and twisted that it is barely recognizable. If I observe this piece as a commentary on the state of the nation, it’s a damning piece of musical commentary, and one that deeply moved me.

Those are the big moments that I wanted to highlight from the Cherry soundtrack, but the rest of it is equally fun to listen to. To reiterate, this soundtrack will completely subvert whatever expectations you had going in, but in the best way possible. This is a reminder that one should never let a film’s premise dictate your thoughts on what the music may sound like, you might find you’re proven wrong.

Cherry Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Track List

  1. When Life Was Beginning, I Saw You (2:51)
  2. Madison (2:01)
  3. Carnival of Losers, Pt. I (2:10)
  4. The Elusive Sensation of Bliss (2:09)
  5. It Was Perfect (0:43)
  6. A Thing for Weak Guys (2:19)
  7. Honeymoon (3:25)
  8. Star-Mangled Banner (2:26)
  9. Iraq (5:10)
  10. Triangle of Death (1:01)
  11. Cheerleaders (1:05)
  12. Huffers of 1st Platoon (1:54)
  13. Another Day, Another Mission (3:15)
  14. Night Tremors (2:52)
  15. Unholy Retribution (1:24)
  16. OxyContin (0:43)
  17. Date Night (2:51)
  18. Carnival of Losers, Pt. 2 (2:03)
  19. Acquiescence (2:24)
  20. I’m Your Worst Nightmare (3:34)
  21. Crossing the Line (1:34)
  22. Rob Another Bank (1:57)
  23. Overdose (2:28)
  24. Your Fate is Darkly Determined (6:21)
  25. One Last Job (3:00)
  26. The Comedown (9:23)
  27. What I’m Trying to Say Is… (Bonus Track) (5:06)

Let me know what you think about Cherry (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: 21 Bridges (2019)

The original motion picture soundtrack for 21 Bridges is available now from Sony Music Masterworks. The soundtrack was composed by Henry Jackman and Alex Belcher (previous collaborations include Captain America: Civil War, Jack Reacher and Io); the pair drew inspiration from the grittier, more nuanced, and classically-influenced scores of film noir and action cinema of the 1950’s-70’s. The intensity they deliver in their score for 21 Bridges creates a unique and gripping original soundtrack hearkening back to these nostalgic movies of yesteryear while still forging new ground in contemporary composition.

Of the soundtrack, composer Henry Jackman had this to say:

“Writing the score for 21 Bridges in collaboration with Alex was immensely fun and creatively rewarding.  The fact that we, along with Brian Kirk and Joe Russo, had such a specific aesthetic in mind, made it all the more interesting.  The idea was respectfully to derive some influence from the Bernard Herrman-era of film scoring and fuse that influence with contemporary composition and recording techniques.  I think we ended up with quite a brave and musically opinionated result.  Working with Brian and Joe was a pleasure and collaborating with Alex was also fantastic since not only was he a keen student of the original’s Herrman scores, but also he is a great guitarist and bass player, with an ear for an authentic tone, all of which contributed greatly to the score.”

Co-composer Alex Belcher added:

“Writing music for film is a uniquely rewarding artistic expression. As the composer, you act as a guide for the audience, leading them through the story and giving them information they aren’t necessarily seeing on screen.  Writing the score for 21 Bridges was even more rewarding because the film offered us the chance to do this sort of storytelling in a way that payed homage to some of the great film scores of the 1970’s. It was, truly, a wonderful endeavor.”

21 Bridges follows an embattled NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman), who is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. As the night unfolds, lines become blurred on who he is pursuing, and who is in pursuit of him. When the search intensifies, extreme measures are taken to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan as the authorities close all 21 BRIDGES to prevent any entry or exit from the iconic island.

It’s intriguing that Jackman and Belcher looked to the past, particularly to Bernard Herrman, when they put the score for 21 Bridges together. That would make the soundtrack a distinctive blend of past and present (Herrman’s scores almost always stood out). For that reason alone, I recommend checking out the soundtrack to 21 Bridges if you get the opportunity.

Let me know what you think about 21 Bridges (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day! The soundtrack is available for purchase now!

21 BRIDGES (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
Prelude
Radio Chatter
Mosto’s
Cocaine Shootout
Speed Cam
Aftermath
Hawk
Chinatown
That Leaves Manhattan
Meet The Preps
Pan Am Club
Close The Island
Thumb Drives
See You In Miami
Guys Like Me
Bring Him In Alive
Hostage
Coolhand
Foot Chase
Grand Central
Look The Devil In The Eye
Epilogue

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and one of the most successful media franchises of all time.  Also starring are Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, and Rita Ora, with Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy.  Fans everywhere can now experience a Pokémon on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other.  The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon, each with its own unique traits and personality.

The score for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was composed by Henry Jackman, whose scoring credits include Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: First Class, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Kong: Skull Island among others. The score, which released on Friday, May 3rd, is absolutely beautiful. Jackman employs a variety of strings and other instruments throughout the score. However, what really puts this score over the top is Jackman’s decision to mix in synthesizer music with the orchestral score. And by synthesizer, I mean think of the music you heard in the original Pokémon games, that synthesized “doop-doop” that is instantly recognizable. A number of the tracks slide in and out of this synthesized music, and it helps bring the Pokémon world to life.

Regarding the soundtrack, Jackman had this to say:

Writing the music for POKÉMON Detective Pikachu was immense fun.  The movie itself was a unique invitation to create a new musical world representing all the wonderful and colorful characters of the Pokémon  universe.  I really enjoyed using many different sonic colors so, if you listen carefully, you can hear everything from the full symphony orchestra to analog vintage synths.  I was also very happy to be working again with Rob Letterman, who even tried to get his beloved 808 Drum Machine into the score, until we found it was fatally damaged.  To have been selected to write music for such a well-loved and precious franchise is a great honor, and I greatly hope my best efforts contribute positively to the Pokémon experience.

If the film is as great as Jackman’s score, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu could easily be one of the best films of the first half of 2019. Even without seeing the film, the music is a joy to listen to. Jackman covers an entire emotional range, from light and humorous to dark and melodramatic. If the film has any failings, it will not come from the music.

As the Pokémon: Detective Pikachu soundtrack is available now, listen to it when you get the chance and let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: The Predator (2018)

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.

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).

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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My Thoughts on: The Predator (2018)

I scratched another goal off my list today: I finally saw a Predator film in theaters. I think director Shane Black meant well when he put together this follow-up to the original 1987 film, but the end result falls short in so many ways. The plot is far too predictable, relying on story beats established by the earlier films, and aside from a few interesting encounters with the Predators, really does nothing substantial.

First let me address the few positives:

-The Predators look amazing, using physical suits really helped portray them as realistically as possible. There were also some nice callbacks to the earlier films provided by examples of different Predator masks. The fight scenes with the Predators are delightfully bloody. I particularly enjoyed the scene where the smaller Predator broke out of the government facility. It was also really cool to see humans using the Predator cloaking technology, I think that might be a first. And finally, Henry Jackman’s score fits into the action perfectly, I have no complaints regarding the music.

As for the rest of the film…..

So much of the crass humor in this film was completely unnecessary. I especially did not appreciate the more…sexual jokes (I don’t even want to repeat the word used). This film would be so much better if there had been less bad jokes and more action.

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Also, while I appreciate that Olivia Munn’s character had no problem picking up a gun and joining in the fight (minus the scene where she accidentally shot herself with a tranquilizer gun), I am sick to death of action films having one token female in the group (Rory’s mother barely appears so she doesn’t really count). And that opening scene in the government laboratory was downright creepy. Considering Munn’s character is supposed to be an expert in her field, it felt to me like all the men were treating her as something of a joke (I despise misogyny in film, especially films made in 2018).

And that ending…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more blatant set-up for a sequel in my life. I’m not saying it couldn’t be good, it’s just the set-up feels like it came out of nowhere. Also, are we ever going to see the Predator’s home planet? I feel like so much of what we know (or think we know) about these aliens comes from speculation on the part of various human characters.

At any rate, The Predator provided a bit of dumb fun (with the emphasis on dumb), but I won’t be revisiting it any time soon. What did you think of The Predator? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Kong: Skull Island (2017), my thoughts

Well…I liked that a lot more than I thought I might. *various spoilers follow from this point*

This past Saturday afternoon I finally got to see Kong: Skull Island, the second installment in the giant monsters universe established by Godzilla (2014). Set in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War, Kong follows an expedition led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) to the titular Skull Island, a previously unknown land mass that was only recently discovered by satellites. Randa claims the group (which is being escorted by a section of soldiers led by Col. Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) is there to study the geology of the island, but in truth, they’re also there to flush something out. That something being Kong…King Kong.

Kong destroys most of the expedition after they drop a series of “seismic charges” (i.e. bombs) on the island, unwittingly awakening a number of nasty monsters dubbed “skull-crawlers” by a character we meet later on. The survivors are initially separated over a wide area, but they are soon joined into two groups: one led by Col. Packard, the other led by James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former captain in the SAS. The goal is to make it to the north side of the island where they can signal their ship for a rescue. Naturally things don’t do according to plan.

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A large section of the film is devoted to watching numerous characters get picked off one by one by the various oversized creatures that inhabit the island (one of the most terrifying incidents involving a giant spider with legs that resemble bamboo trees), as well as the skull-crawlers (which are rapidly growing in size). Conrad’s group encounters the Iwi, a tribe that have been living on the island since time immemorial. Among them is a surprise: Lt. Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), an American pilot shot down in 1944 by a Japanese pilot (who also crashed along with him). For the last 28 years he’s been living with the Iwi, and now he has a chance to leave with Conrad’s group (even though he’s pretty sure the skull-crawlers (the name he gave them because it sounded scary) will get them first). Marlow and Conrad’s group (which includes female photographer Mason Weaver) depart on a boat Marlow and his former Japanese enemy cobbled together from their wrecked planes before a skull-crawler nabbed the latter and head upriver towards their destination. But once they meet up with Col. Packard’s group, Conrad and company realize that something is seriously wrong.

Col. Packard is a very interesting character, and a great case study in how war can change a man for better or worse. Packard has been a soldier for a very long time now, and has earned multiple decorations, but with the end of the Vietnam War, he is struggling to find his place in the world (that’s why he happily accepted the order to escort the group to Skull Island, as it gave him something to do). Seeing Kong wipe out a large portion of the men he’s commanded for several years has given Packard an unbreakable fixation: to kill Kong by whatever means necessary, even if it means they all die in the process. I believe that, in Packard’s eyes, Kong is the living embodiment of the war in Vietnam that never got finished. Against the warnings of Conrad and Marlow (the latter attempting to explain that Kong is the only thing keeping the skull-crawlers at bay), Packard comes up with a plan to trap Kong in a lake filled with napalm while Conrad leads his group to the north. At the last minute, Conrad returns and convinces most of the soldiers to stand down, but not Packard, he simply can’t let go of what happened to his men. As a result, he is the latest victim of Kong’s rage.

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The flight to the northern coast is dominated by a massive fight between Kong and the largest of the skull-crawlers (which was awakened by the large napalm explosion). It’s a titanic battle, and very well executed (the CGI doesn’t look fake at all). Ultimately, Kong is successful, the skull-crawler is killed and Conrad and the others rendezvous with their ship, while Kong watches from a distance.

There’s so much more to the story that I’m leaving out, but I don’t want to completely spoil everything. There is a loose connection to Godzilla where M.U.T.O’s are mentioned (the same term is used in the earlier film) and a post-credit scene (that I completely missed) sees two characters informed of the existence of other giant monsters besides King Kong (which is apparently the lead in to Kong and Godzilla squaring off in three years time, still not sure how I feel about that by the way).

My one complaint with the film is that there were too many characters to keep track of. I understand why this is (as most of these side characters end up dead), but as a result most of the people we meet aren’t as fleshed out as they might have been with a slightly smaller ensemble.

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Favorite moments include:

Any and all scenes including Tom Hiddleston, especially a scene in the second half of the film where, in the midst of poison gas, he dons a gas mask, grabs a samurai sword (long story about how it got to the island) and goes completely medieval on a bunch of monsters!

The fight between Kong and the giant octopus

Kong’s backstory, as explained by Marlow, which really explains a lot about what Kong is doing on the island (it doesn’t explain EVERYTHING, but it does help)

Kong: Skull Island really is a good movie, especially if you’re looking for a fun two hours filled with action (and the slightest HINT of romance), so I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

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My Thoughts on: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

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