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Star Trek: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
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Original soundtrack to the highly anticipated 2009 motion picture. From producer/director J.J. Abrams (Lost, Mission: Impossible: III, and Fringe) comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, Star Trek, featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no one has gone before. Starring Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, with Eric Bana, Winona Ryder and Leonard Nimoy. Michael Giacchino, who has served as J.J. Abrams' musical lieutenant on all his projects, follows the extraordinarily rich musical legacy of Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith, and James Horner, as he boards the Enterprise for her maiden voyage.
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I have been a fan of Trek and especially its scores / soundtracks from my early days in the 70s. Faithfully, I have purchased every soundtrack as it was released concurrently with each film. Even when Next Gen, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise fell into place, I sought the musical releases with anticipation. I have heard 'em all - many times.
Change is paradoxically the only constant in this universe (aside from death and taxes, of course, as the joke goes). Realizing and accepting change is the difficulty for most. Giaccino is change - writing a score for a "reboot" film for a multi-media empire that, arguably, falls short of only Star Wars for enduring legacy and legions of fans. He faced a dilemma: Glean from the past, or boldly venture into a new realm of musical cues and themes. He, most likely with the direction of Abrams, opted for the latter, which is a refreshing development on the Trek frontier.
I listened to this soundtrack many times before seeing the film, as I often do with major fantasty / sci-fi flicks (ie Star Wars). I like to interpret / imagine the story through the notes before I see the actual images. I at first didn't care for this music. It didn't have much linking it to the previous films, save the end credits. Upon further reflection, I now interpret this absence of the traditional Trek fanfare and cues as the "learning curve" for the crew to climactically "graduate" into the recognizable Trek we know where Kirk is finally Captain, with Spock & Bones at his side.Read more ›
The Nero/villains theme is almost juvenile and the lack of the original fanfare until the end credits shows a lack of respect for the great artists who came before. Where Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner's Trek scores were symphonic masterpieces, this one will soon be buried amongst the most forgettable film scores in history.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Is it Goldsmith's Star Trek? No.
Is it Horner's Star Trek? Absolutely not.
Michael Giacchino writes mostly TV and video game scores (a fact I don't hold against him at all, he's a fantastic composer), and this is evident in "Star Trek". Was the opportunity to score an epic, more "film-appropriate" score squandered on J.J. Abrams best music buddy?
Giacchino is hit or miss for me. Some of his work is good, some of it not so much. (I wonder when everyone screams about the "Lost" scores. What's the appeal?) "Star Trek" is in the "good" category, even if "good" usually means "Most of the score is ok save for one or two tracks on EVERY Giacchino CD that are outstanding". Speed Racer had "Grand ol' Prix" and "Reboot". MI:3 had "Bridge Battle". "The Incredibles" had... well, ok, that whole album was great, but it's Pixar.
This CD is mostly "good", with a few "outstanding" tracks, specifically "Enterprising Young Men" and "Nero Death Experience". These two are perfect examples of what happens when Giacchino tries to stir up the listener and does it well. He manages to hit emotional cues and tense action themes and he carries it just long enough to be satisfying but not overwhelming. Other tracks on the CD stand out as well, and there's actually quite a wide variety of themes in this film, but this leads me to what everyone will be arguing about...
Whose Star Trek is this?
Is it Goldsmith? Or Horner, or Courage or Rosenman or any number of composers who have lent their considerable talents trying to create an audible identity for one of the more long-lived science fiction series out there? Depending on what your tastes and who you grew up with, that's going to be a big argument.
What I do know though is this:
"To Boldly Go" and "End Credits" is the reason this CD should be bought. It's Star Trek, plain and simple. If there's one thing Giacchino can do, it's take a theme, scrub it down, rinse it off, dress it up and put it out there for the screams of adoring fans. He's just that good at it, and ending the album with these tracks is the perfect way to reintroduce the old but familiar Star Trek back into cinema.
One of things that stood out for me was the soundtrack. By the time the movie was done I've made a mental note that I just *had* to get the soundtrack. And so I did. I have been listening to it almost every day since I got it. This is a piece of art on its own.
To me, Star Trek has always been about the finest music available in films and TV. Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, etc... remembering that Horner, when signed to do Star Trek II, was fresh to the scoring scene, I decided to give Giacchino a shot. I picked up the score for this film.
Track 1 blew me away. The primary theme for the film was, in those first 30 seconds, as good as anything that Goldsmith had ever done -- it reminded me of "First Contact's" sub-theme. Although the theme faded quickly into something that sounded like "Locke Finds The Hatch" from LOST, it didn't take away from a real nugget in that theme. Track 2 was pretty annoying -- a lot of bizarre orchestra-tumbling that sounds like, to me, a circus run amok. My hopes were fading fast.
Then I came upon Tracks 3-5... 100% genius. Some of the best Star Trek movie music ever. I felt revived... then came tracks 6-12. These were not my favorite. More typical Giacchino sounding music that had seemingly been recycled from "Lost" and "Alias," and much of it too disorganized to be an interesting standalone listen (although having seen the film several times, I must say that it gets the job done adequately, if not excitingly, when you're watching the movie and only gets annoying a couple of times).
Of interest to me was the beginning of Track 7 -- which was nearly a dead lift of Horner's theme for Khan in Star Trek II... not enough of a lift to suggest theft, but rather seemed to be Giacchino paying homage and respect to his fore-runner.
Track 13 was stunning... Spock's music is incredible. Tracks 14 and 15 should have been a single track, since it breaks right across a crescendo. The revived Star Trek theme had its timing messed up on some of the notes, which I really found pointless and exceedingly annoying. The revival of the old show theme was... eh... about the best Giacchino could do with the theme from the original show. The remainder of Track 15 bore the rest of the music from the movie that was missing from the CD -- what was good of it, anyways. There are quite a few pleasant nuggets in there.
Here were my problems with the score: just when it seemed to be "getting good," it would switch out to something annoying. The score as a whole seemed to have multiple-personality disorder, or ADHD, or something like that, because it wouldn't stick to one thing for long enough to be satisfying. Another problem: the main theme, if it was used once, was used 200 times in 45 minutes, in every possible way that it could be used. I'm all for a good theme recurring, but it got old fast. Fortunately, the Narada's death music was not included on the CD as it appeared in the film. That music was so bad that I laugh every time I see the scene.
Another serious complaint I have with this score is the absolutely idiotic track titles. Who on earth came up with "Nero Sighted" (as in, 'near-sighted'), "Nailin' The Kelvin" (come on, really? It's a serious scene), "Nice To Meld You" (riiiiight), "Does It Still McFly?" (what? Is this Star Trek or Back to the Future?"), and "That New Car Smell" (does it come in air freshener form)? No Star Trek film score should have titles that stupid. Some other Giacchino scores have dumb pun-titles, as well (M:I-3's "Shang Way High" comes to mind), so whoever is behind this, please be careful not to repeat it on the second film's score.
Despite these significant flaws, in this score, I do see some promise from Giacchino that I never imagined possible before. I hope he continues to mature as a composer and since I'm sure he'll be tapped to do the next Star Trek film (yup, he and J.J. Abrams are inseparable), it'll be interesting to see if he retains the good and expands on it.
When I first watched the movie, it was the beautiful yet sad theme that now seems to represent the U.S.S. Enterprise herself that set up the epic and tragic end of the U.S.S. Kelvin. Its simple melodic highs and lows represents past ages of sailing, even though ships fly in space rather than oceans in the film. The second track softens and breathes of life and new experiences... while the brass literally screams 'Boldly Go' in the arias that pass.
It may only be Academy Award nominated, but don't forget that Michael Giacchino also won Best Original Score for Up. Maybe that's why - because they could only enter one nomination. Regardless, this is a great soundtrack to listen to while reading a thrilling novel or while shoveling snow - you know it has to be done but it doesn't have to be a chore.
J.Delzer is the author of The Buccaneer of Nemaris. The Buccaneer of Nemaris