Tag Archives: soundtrack review

Soundtrack Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Milan Records has released Army of the Dead (Music From the Netflix Film) by multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL.  

Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Holkenborg for director Zack Snyder’s zombie heist film.  The project is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Snyder and Holkenborg, who most recently collaborated on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but started their relationship in 2014 with the Snyder-written and produced 300: Rise Of An Empire. The duo have also worked together on Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  2021 has already been a major year for Holkenborg, whose epic score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League was one of the longest ever recorded, and was swiftly followed by him scoring the record-breaking Godzilla vs Kong blockbuster.  Army of the Dead is now available to watch in select theaters and to stream on Netflix. 

Of the soundtrack, composer Tom Holkenborg says:

“A zombie heist movie in Vegas with Zack and Netflix, how could I say no? Army of the Dead was a chance to start something very new and fresh, which is certainly ironic for a movie about the undead! It was such a fun project as we got to rip up the rule book, and really re-examine what a zombie movie could sound like. It’s a LOT of fun!”

From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it’s with the ultimate proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. With little left to lose, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.

Now while I found the film itself to be quite underwhelming, I was still willing to give the soundtrack on its own a chance. However I really should have known better because the soundtrack for Army of the Dead did absolutely nothing for me. Except for one moment in ‘Not Here’ where I like how the music comes together, the soundtrack for Army of the Dead is dull, dead, downright boring, and so on. The biggest crime of them all is how boring most of this music is. I’ve said many times that it’s hard to screw film music up, and in a zombie heist film, the process should be fairly simple: all you need is an action-y score to back up what’s happening on the screen.

Um, clearly someone missed that idea because most of this soundtrack does the complete opposite. Most of this music is ploddingly slow and thoughtful which is not what you need for a zombie heist film. I get that Holkenborg wanted to re-examine what a zombie movie sounds like but….they’re really not supposed to sound like this. Put more simply: if the music in a film soundtrack bores me, then something has gone terribly wrong.

I can now definitely chalk up Army of the Dead as one of my biggest disappointments of the year, because not only was the film bad, but the soundtrack is equally as bad. Though, as I mentioned before, there is the one bright spot of ‘Not Here.’ In THAT track at least, I like how the music crashes together in a rising crescendo that, if it takes place in the moment I think it does, is the one moment in the film where music and picture work together perfectly.

In good conscience, I can’t recommend the Army of the Dead soundtrack, but if you check it out and happen to like it, then I am happy for you. For me personally, it doesn’t work and is one of the worst soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.

ARMY OF THE DEAD (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX FILM)

TRACKLISTING –

  1. Viva Las Vegas
  2. Scott and Kate Part 1
  3. Scott and Kate Part 2
  4. Scott and Kate Part 3
  5. Toten Hosen
  6. Swimming Pool
  7. Not Here
  8. 3 Flares
  9. Battle Hallway Part 1
  10. Battle Hallway Part 2
  11. Zeus and Athena Part 1
  12. Zeus and Athena Part 2

Let me know what you think about Army of the Dead and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Army of the Dead (2021)

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: Made in Boise (2019)

I recently had the opportunity to listen to the soundtrack for Made in Boise, a 2019 film which recently saw its soundtrack released digitally by Note for Note Music. The soundtrack, which you can check out here, is the first feature soundtrack composed by Melisa McGregor.

Made In Boise is the Emmy nominated documentary about four women who find purpose carrying babies for strangers in the conservative heartland of Boise, Idaho – the unregulated and unofficial `surrogacy capital’ of the United States – and encounter unexpected complexities along the way. 

Based in Los Angeles, Melisa McGregor is a Canadian-born Composer, Violinist and Producer, a Sundance Lab Composer Fellow and Member of Labyrinth Theater Company (NYC).  Melisa has worked as a composer’s assistant to Danny Elfman on many diverse film scores, from Tim Burton’s  Alice in Wonderland (2010) to Universals’s The Grinch (2018). 

The music for Made in Boise is a type I haven’t heard in a really long time. After being wrapped up in sci-fi music, video game scores, and all kinds of fast paced music for more films than I can count, it was so refreshing to hear something that was slower and reminded me of a simpler way of life. Because that’s what I hear listening to Made in Boise: music that speaks to a world that is quieter, calmer, where all that matters is you and the baby that is growing inside the different surrogate mothers featured in the story.

One thing that caught me by surprise though is how short some of the tracks are. I know soundtracks can have individual tracks as long or short as the story requires, but some of these are the shortest I’ve ever seen. For instance, #7 ‘Shannon Before’ is only thirty-eight seconds long. That’s not an incredibly long amount of time for a musical piece, just as I’m getting into it, it’s over. If I have one gripe with the music, it’s that some of the pieces feel too short to satisfy me, but perhaps there was a good reason some of the pieces are so short.

All in all, the music for Made in Boise is quiet and pleasing, the perfect backdrop for the story of surrogacy and the struggles that can come with bringing new life into the world. This soundtrack is a nice calm counterpoint for all the more “action-filled” soundtracks I’ve been listening to as of late, and it’s a nice reminder that not all soundtracks have to be “noisy” to be good.

Track List:

1. Main Titles (1:00)
2. Farm Live (1:04)
3. Shannon (1:01)
4. Playground (1:00)
5. Surrogacy Support (1:01)
6. Ernesto (1:02)
7. Shannon Before (:38)
8. Nicole to Hospital (1:21)
9. Afterglow (1:16)
10. Idaho (1:45)
11. Losing Finley (1:30)
12. Whassap (:38)
13. Chelsea’s Birth (1:35)
14. Ernesto’s Goodbye (1:06)
15. Cindy Struggles (1:17)
16. Sammy’s Birth (1:03)
17. Afterglow — Reprise (1:17)
18. Skin to Skin (:35)
19. Chelsea Running (1:32)
20. Epilogue (1:35)
21. On Your Way Now — Sharon Van Etten (2:53)
22. Wild Guitars (Bonus track) (3:10)

Let me know what you think about Made in Boise 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)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

Soundtrack Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to New Line Cinema’s explosive new movie Mortal Kombat, which brings to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) contains all new score by Golden Globe-, Emmy-, and Grammy-nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch (IT and IT Chapter 2, Shazam, Blade Runner: 2049 [w/ Hans Zimmer]). It features 24 tracks by Wallfisch, who interpreted the film’s themes and emphasized the story’s hard-driving, visceral action through his music.

Director Simon McQuoid discussed working with Wallfisch on the score:

“Ben and I both knew that we needed to use the classic Immortals track ‘Techno Syndrome’ as source material for the entire score of Mortal Kombat. But along with that we knew that an updated elevated version of the song also needed to be created. And Ben certainly delivered! I am so excited by this new 2021 version of the track, when I first heard it, it blew my mind. Actually, Ben kind of blew my mind on a daily basis through the making of this film, so we can all thank Benjamin Wallfisch for his genius and passion in creating ‘Techno Syndrome 2021’.

Wallfisch further elaborated:

“When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was very aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring a franchise so deeply embedded in pop culture and with such a passionate fanbase. My first question was what can we do with ‘Techno Syndrome,’ a piece of music so much part of the DNA of the game and the original movies? What motifs could be reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world in the score, and might there be room for a full reinvention of the whole song as an EDM single in 2021? A huge thank you to The Immortals for giving us their blessing to reimagine their classic track in this way, as a celebration of the world of Mortal Kombat and its fans, and of the uplifting power of Electronic Dance Music, which the original did so much to light the fuse of 30 years ago.”

I have rarely experienced such a turnaround as what I’ve felt regarding Mortal Kombat. Having minimal contact with the video game series (and the one time I made an effort to play not going particularly well), I was initially on the fence and unable to emotionally invest in the idea of the film at all. But then THAT trailer came out, and I was intrigued. Then came the chance to listen to the soundtrack ahead of its release on April 23…

And I think my brain exploded.

I may have the bad habit of using superlatives too often in my reviews, but please believe me when I say Benjamin Wallfisch’s score for Mortal Kombat is one of the best I’ve ever heard. This isn’t just a soundtrack for an action film, this is an entire world realized through sound and melody and I am here for every last minute of it. During the music for the fight scenes (it’s not hard to tell which ones those are) you can feel every punch and every attack with brutal clarity. For the music alone, I am now itching to see these fight scenes in their proper context, because I need to know how this music connects to the action. And it’s such beautiful music, it has what I like to call “height” which is to say it expands and creates the illusion of space as it goes along. You can literally hear the music grow and soar in certain places, which helps to create the idea of a world existing within the music.

However as I said there’s far more to this soundtrack then just action. Wallfisch also demonstrates a keen ability to take the music in the opposite direction, to slow it down and allow the audience to take a collective breath. That’s an important thing for any film: if the soundtrack is just GO GO GO constantly, it can eventually begin to grate on the ear and become quite tiresome. But the music for Mortal Kombat isn’t like that at all (much to my surprise). There’s plenty of action to go around, but also more than enough moments of calm and relative quiet, though it is more often than not the “calm before the storm” type of quiet. There’s an impressive amount of balancing going on between the two extremes of loud and quiet, and I love it all.

Another detail I like about this soundtrack? The track list doesn’t give too much away regarding plot details. In fact, if I’m reading the track list correctly, most of these tracks appear to be themes for specific characters, which is great because I love thematic-based soundtracks (when done properly). Even so, very little is given away in terms of plot, and that’s great. I’ve seen too many soundtracks where you can suss out the plot of a film from the track list names alone, but you can’t do that here.

I could go on and on about the music for Mortal Kombat, but I’ll wrap it up by saying that listening to this soundtrack has rocketed this film to the top of my must see list for 2021 (and six months ago I couldn’t imagine saying that). If you get the chance, you need to check out this soundtrack independently of the film itself, it is that good.

TRACK LIST

  1. Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)
  2. Hanzo Hasashi
  3. Lord Raiden
  4. Bi-Han
  5. Shang Tsung
  6. Cole Young
  7. Birthmark
  8. Sonya Blade
  9. Kano v Reptile
  10. Liu Kang
  11. The Great Protector
  12. Sub-Zero
  13. Kung Lao
  14. Origins
  15. Kabal
  16. Goro
  17. Arcana
  18. Jax Briggs
  19. The Void
  20. The Tournament
  21. Sub-Zero v Cole Young
  22. I Am Scorpion
  23. We Fight as One
  24. Get Over Here

Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat (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)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

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

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