Tag Archives: Kong: Skull Island

Soundtrack Review: The Predator (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.

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.

hero_thepredator_01_requested_to_be_lead_image

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.

newsEngin.22967228_3predator

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.

henry-jackman.png

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).

Shop Movies + Spend $35, Get Free Shipping

 

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!

See also:

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

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

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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

Advertisements

Kong: Skull Island (2017), my thoughts

*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.

kong-skull-island-poster-2

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.

hero_Kong-Skull-Island-2017-2

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.

KG-ILM-060

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.

TAN208_184.tif

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.

KG-ILM-009

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.

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

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

See also: Film/TV Reviews

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