Transformers (Score) by Steve Jablonsky



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Transformers (Score) by Steve Jablonsky


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Transformers (Score) by Steve Jablonsky

Transformers (Score)
Composed by Steve Jablonsky
Warner/ WEA Records (2007)

Rating: 8/10

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“There’s nothing too subtle about this score—it’s pure crowd-pleaser music.”

“Transformers” Rolls Out!
Review by Steve Townsley

I was thinking of titling this piece “Jablonsky Lights Our Darkest Hour”, but the heavy-handed esoteric reference combined with the implications on the state of film entertainment seemed a little too much (especially when it refers to a Michael Bay film.) But even that trumped my other title, “Film Score is the Right of All Sentient Beings”….even if it feels true, from time to time.

Well, as a giant-robot loving kid, growing up, you never thought it would happen, but here it is: “TRANSFORMERS” – the live-action movie. And was it everything you dreamed it would be? Hmm…well, maybe not *entirely*, but HOLY FREAKIN’ COW, it was pretty cool regardless. Ok, so our human hero is “Sam” and not “Spike”, his girlfriend is “Mikaela” and not “Carly”…and it’s now the “All-Spark”, and not “The Matrix” (lest we wonder why Laurence Fishburne doesn’t put in an appearance.)

The animated version killed Optimus Prime, and it’s a little hard to not get nostalgic when listening to Vince DiCola’s “Death of Optimus Prime” on the 1985 soundtrack album. The 2007 version brought him back to life, though, and that’s evident from the first knock-out track. The goosebumps will rise when you hear the power anthem for “Autobots” building. Chilling, also, is the almost anti-demonic choir of “Decepticons”, which is appropriate in its relentless ominous pulse!

As an acolyte of the Hans Zimmer school (love it or hate it), STEVE JABLONSKY has a good degree of experience already in film score, having provided co-composition credits on several films, as well as breaking out on his own with the soaring anime “STEAMBOY”, the remake of “TEXAS CHAINSAW MASACRE”, and Michael Bay’s previous directorial effort, “THE ISLAND”. (One of Jablonsky’s “Island” cues was even used in the opening broadcast of the 2006 Winter Olympics.)

Now, with what is sure to become the pinnacle for high-gloss, popcorn-munching summer entertainment, “TRANSFORMERS” is an unabashed gift to those who enjoyed the resurrection of the 20-year old Hasbro franchise, and Jablonsky’s score is likewise a gift for action-music fans worldwide. Restraining from the constant clash of most high-octane action films, Jablonsky actually dials it down on many of the film’s powerful tracks, like “Optimus” (track 6), which features a plaintive woodwind, and “Bumblebee” (track 7), which is remarkably cool in its heroic power. There seems to be a bit of a nod to Thomas Newman in “Sam at the Lake”, and serves as light underscore to the comic interaction between Sam and Bumblebee.

In “Arrival To Earth”, another of the film’s most memorable moments, JABLONSKY revisits a similar building motif to his “Autobot” theme, with a choir joining the grandiose power chords, and JABLONSKY references this in the album’s closing track “No Sacrifice, No Victory” (Track 20).

Something to listen for in the album is the use of choir throughout. The choice to do this for what seems like it would be a horn and synth-heavy score is quite interesting, and it’s a subconscious hook for bringing the listener back to the music again and again. My own take on this (and you may read differently, as you will) is that JABLONSKY’s intent using choir is two-fold: #1 To give the score some human “grounding”—giving the listeners some emotional attachment by making the music a little more human. And #2, to give the conflict a “celestial” quality—the viewer may or may not be able to look past the fact that there are giant toys battling on screen, but for those who give these “toys” a little more influence, we are watching the conflict of childhood icons—a Robotic-Ragnarok—unfold before us. Yeah, we had to sit through some lousy ham-acting by a misplaced John Turturro, but what we really came to see was Autobots vs. Decepticons, and that’s legendary.

The only complaint herein is that JABLONSKY’s score had to give way to some of the blantantly commercial (a term used extremely redundantly here) shoe-horning of pop music into the film. So there’s no big closing moment, except a reiteration of the “Arrival” theme heard before. But the album opens strong, and closes strong. And all in between is terrific underscore for the clash of Robot-Good and Robot-Evil. There’s nothing too subtle about this score—it’s pure crowd-pleaser music. No deftly woven emotional counterpoints, no irony—but will all that aside for a movie about Giant Robots, it’s a fantastic effort, and an extremely fun listen.

Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Autobots 2:34  ****
2 Decepticons 3:53  ***
3 All Spark 3:36  ***
4 Deciphering the Signal 3:10  **
5 Frenzy 1:58  **
6 Optimus 3:17  ****
7 Bumblebee 3:58  ****
8 Soccent Attack 2:09  **
9 Sam at the Lake 2:00  ****
10 Skorpinok 4:57  ****
11 Cybertron 2:47  **
12 Arrival to Earth 5:28  ***
13 Whitwicky 1:59  ****
14 Downtown Battle 1:34  **
15 Sector 7 2:07  **
16 Bumblebee Captured 2:19  **
17 You're a Soldier Now 3:29  ***
18 Sam on the Root 2:4  ***
19 Optimus vs. Megatron 4:01  ****
20 No Sacrifice, No Victory 2:57  ****
  Total Running Time (approx)    




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