Sunday 5 August 2012

Movie Soundtrack Review: John Carter

There's no doubt that Edgar Rice Burroughs' enduring sword and planet classic, John Carter of Mars, has influenced an incredible amount of science fiction tales since, including the Star Wars series, so one would have thought that a film adaptation would have been primed to set the screens alight and the cash counters chiming. What actually happened was 'John Carter', a bewildering truncated title that carries little inspiration, tanked at the box office and created a small tear in Disney's wallet.

Mix this with varied critical reviews and a mere scraping of marketing and you have one very unsuccessful film, even if by rights it should have done very well. However much the critics think the movie failed, there's one thing that's certain: the soundtrack is very good.

Michael Giacchino, who valiantly showed off his composing chops on J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' and has had a long history of contributing to the famed director's work including 'Lost' and 'Super 8', brings his A-game to 'John Carter'. Giacchino re-invigorates the essence of 80s adventure flicks, hearkening back to John Williams without outright copying him. You can hear a tinge of Lawrence of Arabia here, especially in 'Get Carter', a dramatic cue with layers of thundering horns, sweeping melody and subdued vocals towards the end. It's an exciting cue with a beginning, middle and end and a theme that's lightly echoed with violin and piano in 'Gravity of the Situation' where the danger inherent in 'Get Carter' makes way for a sense of wonderment.

This is pure fantastical space opera, filled with over-the-top excitement ('The Prize is Barsoom'), dazzling romance ('A Change of Heart') and the mystery of a new world ('Thark Side of Barsoom'). Giacchino does a great job of blending the film's themes together, conjuring the feeling of a great pulp adventure - which is exactly what this film needed. This is a melodic and sweeping affair that does feels like John Williams, but that really isn't a bad thing.

5 stars

Cross-posted from Movie Soundtrack Reviews

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