Monsters VS. Aliens Composed by Henry Jackman
Lakeshore Records (2009)
Soundsclips provided below by AmazonMp3
“HENRY JACKMAN lays
down quite a ferocious score...filled with blaring brass, deep
percussion, radical tempo shifts, and the offbeat zaniness reserved
for classic 2D animated shorts.”
Review by Christopher Coleman
It's no secret that 3D animated films seem to be the box-office goldmine du
jour. The major studios are cranking them our faster and more frequently with
each passing year. The only problem is the vast majority fall flat on their
three-dimensional faces...at least they do for some adults. Since the kiddies
don't care about poor writing, lackluster voice acting, and copycat directing,
putting animated kids, toys, animals, robots, monsters or aliens on the screen
guarantees their attention long enough to at least ensure a ticket is purchased.
It was thought that Dreamworks was a one-hit-wonder with SHREK (and I mean the
first). That perception changed radically with last year's, KUNG FU PANDA, which
remains my favorite animated film of 2008. So now Dreamworks, because of the
great success of panda Po, you've given us the green light to elevate our
expectations...and with those expectations our eyes turn to MONSTERS VS. ALIENS.
Let me say it fast and straight. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS is no KUNG FU PANDA, but
doesn't completely fall into the destitution inhabited by the likes of
MADAGASCAR, BEE MOVIE, or SHARK TALE. The film has a handful of decent comedic
moments, eye-popping action sequences, and lovable monsters and when those
ingredients aren't enough, the once-gimmicky-now-engaging-3D effects go a long
way to making the film enjoyable as a whole. Take the 3D out of the equation and
the film experience suffers significantly. Sadly, more often than not, a sub-par
(if Pixar is "par") animated feature film means a sub-par original score. I
don't know why this is, but it is. So is this case with HENRY JACKMAN's MONSTERS
We have a bad track record going. When you think of the aforementioned films
like MADAGASCAR (truly one of Mr. Zimmers most disappointing scores in recent
memory), or John Powell's ROBOTS, or MEET THE ROBINSONS with score by Danny
Elfman, if you even recall those scores at all, you'll remember that they
certainly were not among that composer's best. For some reason, these scores do
not rise above their lackluster containers, as they occasionally do in the realm
of live-action features. Does HENRY JACKMAN smash that trend here? The film,
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, flies somewhere between the cream of the crop and the
crap of crumbs, but is the composer's score so fated?
HENRY JACKMAN lays down quite a ferocious score...filled with blaring brass,
deep percussion, radical tempo shifts, and the offbeat zaniness reserved for
classic 2D animated shorts. JACKMAN tip-toes through many-a-John-Powell-tulip
here. From one of the main motifs bearing a striking resemblence to Powell's
X-Men 3 motif to his eclectic instrumentation and propensity for
unpredictability. Where JACKMAN truly excels is in the extended action sequences
such as: "The Battle At Golden Gate Bridge" (10) or "Imprisoned by a Strange
Being" (13). He balances out his score with a surprising amount of heart.
Centered around the she-giant, Ginormica, is a honey-sweet, theme comprised of
soft strings, piano and woodwinds. It surfaces in "A Wedding Interrupted" (4),
"The Grand Tour" (8), and "Didn't Mean to Crush You" (11). The sweetest track of
them all just might be "The Ginormica Suite" (18), where Jackman brightens the
theme with much vim and vigor. Overall, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS is quite a debut
effort from Jackman. There's no doubting his talent and potential to "wow"
audiences; however, there are so many motifs and so many unexpected turns in the
style of music and instrumentation that the score feels a bit out of focus.
Tracks such as "Meet the Monsters" (5), but especially "Monster Mojo" (19), are
meant to be quirky, but fall short of the quality of his other pieces. LAKESHORE
RECORD's presentation of Jackman's score, intermingled with famous pop tunes
from the 50s, 60s and 70s, doesn't help with this "focus" issue either. Still,
with 14 of 20 tracks being original score, an investment in this CD (or digital
download) remains a wise one. There is enough of HENRY JACKMAN's voraciously
entertaining score to satisfy.
Every so often a name will pop onto the composing scene that fans and reviewers
make a mental note of. With the Dreamworks' MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, the jig is
up. HENRY JACKMAN, we know who you are...and we are ready for more!