Welcome Home, Hayabusa

Welcome Home, HayabusaHayabusa was a Japanese space probe that landed on and sampled asteroid Itokawa in 2011. This would be a stunning space feat for any country’s space agency, but Japan happened to get there first, and the surge of national pride for this technological accomplishment has spawned no fewer than three movies, ranging from documentaries to – in the case of Okaeri Hayabusa (Welcome Home, Hayabusa) – a fictionalized family drama with the mission as backdrop and framing story.

And who better to score a movie whose drama takes place around the launch and flight of one of Japan’s crowning space achievements? None other than the late, great Japanese synth pioneer Isao Tomita. Whether you realize it or not, Tomita’s connection with space exploration is lengthy – and almost purely coincidental. Tomita’s late ’70s synth reworking of Debussy’s “Arabesque No. 1” was appropriated by the Miami Planetarium to top and tail each installment of the planetarium’s long-running PBS series Star Hustler (later Star Gazer, after the realities of the search engine age caught up with the show and began directing young viewers toward a certain adult periodical with “hustler” in the title). Tomita’s music was synonymous with astronomer Jack Horkheimer’s exuberant weekly lessons on amateur astronomy from then on.

Tomita is an absolutely brilliant choice to score this film. Not only is his synthesizer work as crisp and inventive as ever, but he gives brilliant musical accompaniment to visualizations of data being transmitted to Earth from deep space, and uses appropriately icy synths to illustrate the bleak emptiness of space traversed by Hayabusa. There have been many musical odes to major space missions, and by fairly high 4 out of 4profile composers (Vangelis springs to mind), but Tomita’s translation of event to music makes this among the best. This soundtrack also steps outside the usual all-synth comfort zone with which Tomita is associated, allowing the composer to bring his classical training into play with real trumpet solos, woodwinds and strings augmenting his normally “icy” synthesizers with a warmer human touch.

The real tragedy is that Japan has launched Hayabusa 2 to dare even mightier things, and Tomita is no longer around to give that mission its own soundtrack.

Order this CD

  1. Challenge To The Universe (5:03)
  2. Engineer Crush (1:20)
  3. Dreaming Of The Flyby (1:21)
  4. Toward The Asteroid (3:30)
  5. Touchdown On Itokawa! (2:43)
  6. Recollection Of Naoko (1:34)
  7. The Fight Against Sickness (3:23)
  8. 1-Bit Communication / Connecting The Hope (3:19)
  9. Mother’s Joy / Surgery Success (1:49)
  10. Cross Operation? (1:52)
  11. Finally To Return (1:36)
  12. Tristan & Isolde / From Beyond The Galaxy (8:15)
  13. Hayabusa / Tristan & Isolde To The Future (5:47)

Released by: Shochiku Records
Release date: 2-29-2012
Total running time: 41:32

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – music by John Williams

Star Wars: The Force AwakensJ.J. Abrams had no shortage of composers who he could’ve called into action for this project; indeed, during press junkets for Star Trek: Into Darkness, not long after Abrams was announced as the first non-Lucas director of a Star Wars feature film, he was being asked if he was going to bring longtime collaborator Michael Giacchino to the Star Wars franchise, or if he would try to rouse John Williams out of semi-retirement. As much of a Star Wars fanboy as Abrams is, it didn’t seem terribly surprising that he fully expected to work with Williams. Ultimately, you bring Williams back to Star Wars for the same reason that you pull Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher back into it: to create a point of audience identification and to make this new, outside-the-original-trilogy entry authentic.

There, at least, Williams – now 81 years old – succeeds, because he set the bar for what to expect. But The Force Awakens isn’t really Star Wars from the past: it’s Star Wars for the future. For lack of a better way to put it, the “texture” of the soundtrack is very different, as it deals with a movie that takes place in settings unimagined in the six prior films, populated largely by character we’ve never met before. Williams gives Jakku a different flavor of desolation than Tatooine, and Kylo Ren’s musical signature is very different from Darth Vader’s. It’s an almost entirely new universe scored with almost entirely new music.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some familiar tunes; outside of the main titles, the Star Wars theme makes itself heard first in “The Falcon”, an otherwise new track whose rapid-fire strings echo the past exploits of Han’s ship. It may not be “Hyperspace” or “The Asteroid Field”, but it’s still a pulse-raising piece of music. The Star Wars theme shows up as a motif elsewhere, including “Scherzo For X-Wings”. “Han And Leia” revives both the Princess Leia theme from Star Wars, and “Han Solo And The Princess” from The Empire Strikes Back, and both themes show up elsewhere as well.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that the Force theme, whose perfect Platonic ideal performance-wise remains “Binary Sunset” from Star Wars, also reappears (what with the Force awakening and all). But what’s more surprising is to hear it coupled, in “The Jedi Steps and Finale”, with a musical callback to the prequel trilogy, referencing music from the scene showing Anakin’s final transformation into Vader. A surprising and ominous choice for a refrain.

It all adds up to a nice musical package. Some fans demand completion in their soundtracks; in some cases, I’m one of them. But Williams has always sequenced and sorted his soundtrack albums so they make cohesive musical sense as a listening experience. He picks out his favorite bits, and even though the three original trilogy movies have each received more-or-less-complete score releases, I still find myself going back to the original albums. The Force Awakens soundtrack is a lot like that: there’s over an hour of music here (something of a minor miracle given that it was recorded in Los Angeles by union musicians, a factor that many labels cite when issuing irritatingly short soundtrack releases), and Williams’ favorite material 4 out of 4is good enough for me. As much as the shiny new action figures of Rey and Finn and Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren (and, yes, BB-8) sitting on my shelf, a new CD of new Star Wars music by John Williams himself is the thing that says “It’s back!” more than anything else. (Now I’ll just be waiting for Meco’s take on the whole thing.)

With the next franchise movie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) set to be scored by Alexandre Desplat, it’s clear that the learners weaned on Williams’ soundtracks will soon become the masters. But if this is the last Star Wars movie Williams scores, he’s left a parting shot to show the next generation of Star Wars soundtrack composers how it’s done.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village (6:25)
  2. The Scavenger (3:39)
  3. I Can Fly Anything (3:11)
  4. Rey Meets BB-8 (1:31)
  5. Follow Me (2:54)
  6. Rey’s Theme (3:11)
  7. The Falcon (3:32)
  8. That Girl With The Staff (1:58)
  9. The Rathtars! (4:05)
  10. Finn’s Confession (2:08)
  11. Maz’s Counsel (3:07)
  12. The Starkiller (1:51)
  13. Kylo Ren Arrives At The Battle (2:01)
  14. The Abduction (2:25)
  15. Han And Leia (4:41)
  16. March Of The Resistance (2:35)
  17. Snoke (2:03)
  18. On the Inside (2:05)
  19. Torn Apart (4:19)
  20. The Ways Of The Force (3:14)
  21. Scherzo For X-wings (2:32)
  22. Farewell And The Trip (4:55)
  23. The Jedi Steps and Finale (8:51)

Released by: Disney Music
Release date: December 18, 2015
Total running time: 77:28

The Final Countdown – music by John Scott

The Final CountdownThe Final Countdown may not have been the thrilling time-travel spectacle its producers hoped it would be when it was released in 1980, but it did boast a winning score that continues to be widely praised not only for its creativity but its ability to transform a flawed movie into something of an unlikely classic.

I admit to being a huge fan of this movie. It’s easy to appreciate it as something of an anomaly in 1980 when movie special effects had survived the growing pains of Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Alien – not to mention The Empire Strikes Back, to name just a few. Next to these Big Boys, The Final Countdown, with its embarrassing laser storm time portal and use of stock footage, comes across exactly as it was to make – cheap. However, that low-budget approach and earnest attention to story, underscored by a wonderfully propulsive score, is what gives the movie a lasting charm.

On the whole John Scott imbues the score with incredible optimism and purpose. At its core, The Final Countdown is a science fiction movie and Scott opens the movie in the main titles with Star Trek-ian fanfare. Like the Starship Enterprise, the U.S.S. Nimitz is treated like a character in the movie with its own theme (which takes a curiously menacing turn when the Nimitz first appears on screen and can be heard at the 2-minute mark in track 1). There’s little in the “Main Titles” to portend the forthcoming mystery and danger of the story. It’s a balls-out piece of heroic bombast that finds its fingerprints all over the rest of the score. Scott gives it a beautifully fatalistic feel in “Nimitz On Route” and a revisited heroic identity for “Splash the Zeros”. It’s hard to ignore the very obvious Tchaikovsky influences and one may take issue with its shameless patriotism, which makes the score feel like a marketing piece for the Navy (the movie was in fact used as a recruiting tool for the Navy). Despite this, the theme serves quite well what is, in essence, a very American movie.

Scott displays his true creativity with his “Mr. Tideman” theme, which may be, I would argue, one of the best themes ever created for a movie character. This track is certainly worth dissecting because it’s a work of undeniable genius. The nervous strings running throughout the track convey the appropriate anticipation and mystery surrounding the Tideman character and the horns echo the more stately and official elements of the Navy and Tideman’s relationship to it, but it’s that quick, playful little melody heard 45 seconds in that’s at the soul of the theme. It took me a few listens but I realized, whether intentional or not, that Scott was tipping his hat to “Tubular Bells”, which played a significant role in the score for The Exorcist.

Scott brings back the Tideman theme in romantic guise for the first real personal meeting between Commander Owen and Laurel. The theme, now stripped down and played with flute, not only underscores their budding romance but also foreshadows their relationship to the first appearance of Tideman earlier in the movie. The theme becomes more aggressive and fulfilled (not to mention creepier) at the end of the movie when it’s revealed Commander Owen is Mr. Tideman – or became Mr. Tideman, however you want to interpret it.

Sometimes the fanfare gets to be a little too much. “The Admirals Arrive” is a painful marching band composition and “Last Known Location,” with its overly dramatic tympanis and strings, feels entirely mired in dated ’70s and early ’80s adventure film scoring. I can’t say too much about Scott’s use of the Jaws theme to underscore the approaching time storm. After all, Jerry Goldsmith used it as well for The Omen in a key scene there. Here, Scott has time to truly play it out. It’s yet another nice nod to another influential film score from that era, even if it does seem like a lazy choice (even “An Hour Ago” sounds slightly derivative of Capt. Dallas’ air shaft crawl scene in Alien, with a few sneaky notes of the main Alien theme thrown in for good effect).

The Final Countdown is a relic of a time long since passed, when scores were treated with incredible care and attention, especially for sci-fi and adventure films. Call it the Star Wars Effect. Today, with emphasis and minimalism and irony in scoring, it’s easy to 4 out of 4
dismiss Scott’s score as dated or even jingoistic. As politically minded as we are today, a movie like this would be (if similarly made) filed on either side of the dividing line between red and blue ideologies. And that’s sad. It diverts attention from what is in essence a beautifully realized score that serves its movie well and makes it a memorable, if flawed, entry in sci-fi cinema.

Order this CD

  1. The Final Countdown Main Titles (3:53)
  2. Mr. Tideman (2:24)
  3. The U.S.S. Nimitz On Route (3:28)
  4. The Approaching Storm (4:22)
  5. Pursued By The Storm (2:45)
  6. Into The Time Warp (3:57)
  7. Rig The Barricades (2:16)
  8. Last Known Position (2:13)
  9. An Hour Ago (1:00)
  10. December 7, 1941 (0:46)
  11. The Japanese Navy (0:35)
  12. Shake Up The Zeros (2:13)
  13. Splash Two (1:05)
  14. Laurel and Owen (2:22)
  15. Climb Mount Nitaka (2:10)
  16. On The Beach (0:39)
  17. General Quarters (1:48)
  18. Operation Pearl Harbor (0:59)
  19. The Storm Reappears (3:28)
  20. Back Through The Time Warp (3:40)
  21. The Planes Return (1:27)
  22. The Admirals Arrive (1:30)
  23. Mr. and Mrs. Tideman (4:19)

Released by: JOS Records
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 53:20

Star Trek: Generations (Newly Expanded Edition)

Let’s be clear – the Star Trek: Generations soundtrack that was released in 1994 was no slouch, featuring around 45 minutes of music, a collection of Generations and Star Trek: TNG sound effects, and a fridge magnet of the CD cover (no joke!). The soundtrack consumer demands a bit more these days, however, so the miraculously revived GNP Crescendo label has traded in the fridge magnet for an extra disc featuring the complete score from beginning to end.

And let’s be clear about another thing – this has always been one of the two best soundtracks from the TNG movies, demonstrating that Dennis McCarthy was not simply phoning in sonic wallpaper for TNG on TV (at least not willingly). Generations gives us McCarthy at his thunderous best, composing music with a real melody behind it and then giving a truly widescreen treatment. Of the previously unavailable cues, the one I was looking forward to hearing the most was “Distress Call / Harriman and the Ribbon”, whose first glimpse of the Nexus is a masterpiece of spine-tingling, otherworldly foreboding – the sound of laying eyes on something dangerously beyond comprehension.

The highlight of Generations remains “The Nexus / A Christmas Hug”, an eerily beautiful choral piece accompanying Picard’s disorienting fantasy of a perfect Christmas with a family that his Starfleet lifestyle would never allow him to have. McCarthy himself has always been justifiably proud of this piece, and the bonus tracks present us with this selection in choir-only form, with the orchestra mixed out completely (and it still holds up as a great piece of music).

Between this and the recent release of box sets of music from Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine (each of which devote at least one CD to McCarthy’s best from each series), I’d like to think that these 4 out of 4releases of his work are earning Dennis McCarthy a long-overdue reappraisal from Star Trek fandom, which seemed to indict him of the crime of not being Ron Jones for many years. McCarthy could always crank out a great tune; the strictures placed on Star Trek’s composers by its showrunner kept the music to a very dull roar (in every sense of the word “dull”). This is why you don’t have a 14-disc box set of McCarthy’s music. The expanded Generations soundtrack is a good start on redressing that balance, though.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title (2:54)
  2. Past Glory (1:19)
  3. The Enterprise B (0:42)
  4. Distress Call / Harriman and the Ribbon (4:27)
  5. Kirk Saves the Day / Deck 15 / HMS Enterprise (4:50)
  6. Picard’s Message / Raid Post Mortem (4:43)
  7. Data and the Emotions (0:54)
  8. Time is Running Out (1:11)
  9. Data Malfunctions (2:29)
  10. Soran Kidnaps Geordi (2:44)
  11. Guinan and the Nexus (2:47)
  12. Torture (1:37)
  13. Soran’s Plan Revealed (1:49)
  14. Prisoner Exchange (2:59)
  15. Outgunned (3:22)
  16. The Gap / Coolant Leak / Appointment with Eternity / Out of Control / Blasted / The Crash (5:43)
  17. Coming to Rest (1:00)
  18. The Nexus (1:32)
  19. A Christmas Hug / The Kitchen Debate (8:03)
  20. Coming to Rest (1:38)
  21. Two Captains / Crash Recap (2:04)
  22. The Final Fight (6:15)
  23. The Captain of the Enterprise (Kirk’s Death) (2:45)
  24. To Live Forever (2:40)
  25. Star Trek: Generations Overture (4:13)
    Disc Two
    Original 1994 album remastered

  1. Star Trek: Generations Overture (4:13)
  2. Main Title (2:54)
  3. The Enterprise B / Kirk Saves the Day (3:13)
  4. Deck 15 (1:41)
  5. Time is Running Out (1:11)
  6. Prisoner Exchange (2:58)
  7. Outgunned (3:22)
  8. Out of Control / The Crash (2:05)
  9. Coming to Rest (1:00)
  10. The Nexus / A Christmas Hug (7:07)
  11. Jumping the Ravine (1:38)
  12. Two Captains (1:34)
  13. The Final Fight (6:15)
  14. Kirk’s Death (2:45)
  15. To Live Forever (2:40)
  16. Sound Effects

  17. Enterprise B Bridge (3:13)
  18. Enterprise B Doors Open (0:13)
  19. Distress Call Alert (0:10)
  20. Enterprise B Helm Controls (0:16)
  21. Nexus Energy Ribbon (1:38)
  22. Enterprise B Deflector Beam (0:08)
  23. Enterprise B Warp Pass-by (0:14)
  24. Enterprise B Transporter (0:12)
  25. Tricorder (0:30)
  26. Hypo Injector (0:03)
  27. Communicator Chirp (0:06)
  28. Door Chime (0:07)
  29. Enterprise D Warp Out #1 (0:22)
  30. Bird of Prey Bridge / Explosion (2:51)
  31. Klingon Sensor Alert (0:08)
  32. Bird of Prey Cloaks (0:04)
  33. Bird of Prey De-cloaks (0:10)
  34. Klingon Transporter (0:12)
  35. Soran’s Gun (0:11)
  36. Soran’s Rocket De-cloaks (0:05)
  37. Shuttlecraft Pass-by (0:21)
  38. Enterprise D Bridge / Crash Sequence (3:21)
  39. Enterprise D Warp-Out #2 (0:09)
  40. Bonus Tracks

  41. Prisoner Exchange (film version) (2:59)
  42. A Christmas Hug (choir only) (1:22)
  43. Lifeforms (Vocal: Brent Spiner) (0:17)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: October 15, 2012
Disc one total running time: 75:39
Disc two total running time: 66:11

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Moon 44 – music by Joel Goldsmith

Moon 44Moon 44, a late ’80s movie starring Michael Pare and Malcolm McDowell (among others), flew under many science fiction fans’ radar (I have to be honest, I only remember it in terms of some “coming attractions” preview articles in Starlog Magazine), and quickly became one of those movies that people had only ever seen on videotape. The soundtrack was released in 1990 alongside the movie by Silva Screen Records, and after years out of print has recently been re-released by Buysoundtrax (BSX) Records.

Moon 44 was not the first movie scored by rising music star Joel Goldsmith (that was the execrable 1977 B-movie – and MST3K fodder – Laserblast), but it was the first time he got to entrust his compositions to a full orchestra rather than leaning on synthesizers. In essence, this was the first time that the junior Goldsmith presented us with the sound that his fans would come to know and love in such future projects as Star Trek: First Contact, Stargate SG-1, Witchblade, Stargate Atlantis, and so on.

And it does sound oddly familiar – in a few places, the soundtrack from Moon 44 resembles Jerry Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. You can hear the style and even a few melodic licks that Joel Goldsmith would lean on frequently for his work in the Stargate TV franchise in abundance here. It’s all played proficiently by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, with Christopher Stone conducting (Stone composed the score for nearly every Phantasm sequel, as well as, more obscurely, early laserdisc arcade games such as Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace). If there’s a weak track, it’s the source cue “Shut Out” – a vocal track that sounds a bit more 1985 than 1990.

Ironically, though Goldsmith didn’t wind up working for Moon 44 director Roland Emmerich again, both moved on to bigger and better things: Emmerich and Dean Devlin (who had a small part as an actor in Moon 44) went on to co-write Independence Day and Stargate, among others; Goldsmith scored most of the television spinoff universe spawned by Stargate.

It seems a little unlikely that we’ll be hearing more music from the Stargate universe – Joel Goldsmith’s untimely death in May 2012 cut short many long-touted projects, including a possible release of his music from Stargate Universe – but in lieu of those much-talked about collections which have now entered the realm of vaporware, 4 out of 4Moon 44 is comfortingly familiar. (Goldsmith signed off on this soundtrack’s re-release before his death, and the already-announced release date had the misfortune to follow closely on the heels of his passing.)

As a sampler of the style he would employ in many future projects, Moon 44 is a fitting memorial for Joel Goldsmith – and, on its own, it’s a good listen, too.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Felix The Cop (3:04)
  2. First Training Flight (5:14)
  3. So Long Felix (4:06)
  4. Navigator’s Hang Up (1:25)
  5. Armed And Dangerous No. 1 (3:29)
  6. Drones, Drones, Drones (But Not A Drop To Drink)
  7. (2:52)

  8. Sykes Gets Caught (2:10)
  9. Armed And Dangerous No. 2 (4:27)
  10. So You Like It Fast (Hard And Rough)
  11. (1:47)

  12. Jake To The Rescue / Joel’s Outlandish Adventure (2:24)
  13. Lee Bombs Out (3:00)
  14. Welcome To Moon 44 (0:49)
  15. Taxi Driver (“You Talkin’ To Me?”) (2:49)
  16. The Cookie Crumbles / Bumpy Taxi Ride / The End Of Moon 44 (6:04)
  17. Aftermath (1:13)
  18. Heading For Earth (0:59)
  19. Terry On The Moon / Finale (1:12)
  20. Shut Out (vocals: Heather Forsyth) (1:33)

Released by: Silva Screen (original edition) / BSX Records (2012 reissue)
Release date: 1990 (original Silva Screen edition) / 2012 (BSX Records)
Total running time: 49:21

Saturn 3 – music by Elmer Bernstein

Saturn 3Ah, the ’80s. Hollywood – and indeed all points beyond – tried relentlessly to cash in on the post-Star Wars hunger for all things science fiction, and often failed. Case in point: Saturn 3, whose star power was invested primarily in the wildly unlikely combination of co-stars Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett, both of whom stripped down for love scenes that were about as plausible as any of the movie’s sci-fi conceits. Left with the unenviable task of scoring Saturn 3 – which had already suffered a change of director mere weeks into production – was Elmer Bernstein, whose later forays in the genre (Heavy Metal, Ghostbusters, etc.) were usually accompanied by more palatable movies. With British financiers – recently stung by the sinking ticket sales of Raise The Titanic! – bankrolling the movie, by the time Saturn 3 came out, Bernstein’s score was just about guaranteed to be the best thing about it.

And yet, if you actually watched Saturn 3, you didn’t hear much of that music, since it was sliced, diced and edited to match the whims of the director. This 2006 CD release of the full, unedited score from Intrada contains much that didn’t make it into the movie itself. One of the first casualties was a surprising detour into disco (it was 1980…) in the whopping nine-minute opening theme; this concession to the popular musical flavors of tha time was left on the cutting room floor, echoed in only one other track (“Blue Dreamers”). Much of the score has a slow-boiling foreboding feel to it, punctuated by some boisterous action scenes; as the liner notes by Jeff Bond point out, a lot of the music wound up being used in parts of the movie other than the scenes for which it was composed.

Bond’s notes also seem to paint Saturn 3 as little more than a warm-up for Heavy Metal and Ghostbusters, but the only time I found myself instantly reminded of Bernstein’s later work was “The Run”, which does sound like a lost scene from Ghostbusters. This soundtrack employs some fairly unusual music by Bernstein standards – nothing really revolutionary, but not a sound we’re accustomed to from him.

3 out of 4In the end, Saturn 3 is up there with a contemporary, the Roger Corman wanna-be epic Battle Beyond The Stars: the score was far better than the movie, and you’re probably doing yourself a mercy (and getting a lot more enjoyment out of the deal) listening to the music alone. That Bernstein’s carefully constructed (if occasionally too prone to 1980 novelty) soundtrack was chopped up and treated like glorified library music was the final indignity that Saturn 3 had to suffer before bombing in theaters.

Order this CD

  1. Space Murder (9:18)
  2. The Lab (2:05)
  3. Meet Hector (4:44)
  4. The Brain (2:08)
  5. Blue Dreamers (2:42)
  6. Hector Mimics Benson (1:25)
  7. Peeping Toms (7:15)
  8. Adam’s Target (2:00)
  9. Benson Is Off (2:16)
  10. Training Hector (3:13)
  11. Adam Rescues Alex (2:39)
  12. Hector Loses It (6:52)
  13. The Run (1:48)
  14. A Head For Hector (3:31)
  15. Alex Alone (2:06)
  16. The Big Dive (4:37)
  17. End Credits (3:22)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 62:48

Planet Of The Apes (newly expanded edition)

Planet Of The Apes (newly expanded edition)The modern world of big-screen reboots and remakes presents a minefield to the music department: how do you create music for a story that’s been done before, without doing the same music that’s been done before? (At least one movie remake, the modern remount of Hitchcock’s Psycho, opted to reuse the original music, albeit a new recording of it.) Matters are made worse when the soundtrack of the original version was a groundbreaking, genre-shaking opus that was practically its own character in the film – such as Jerry Goldsmith’s brutally percussive score from 1968’s Planet Of The Apes. In that respect, the 2001 reboot of Apes had a double burden – the original movie and its music were indelibly ingrained into the minds of genre fans. Top that.

Tim Burton tried to, and as he so often does, he brought frequent musical collaborator Danny Elfman along for the ride. Both had an unenviable task ahead of them. Arguably, the music succeeded better than the movie for which it was designed, and La-La Land has re-released the soundtrack to the 2001 Apes remake in an extravagant form, stretching the movie’s almost wall-to-wall music across three discs covering both the original soundtrack album as released in ’01 (which had a pretty healthy selection of music on it to begin with) as well as the complete score as heard in the film (the material on the single-CD soundtrack release differed significantly from the actual film score in many places).

As I was listening to the movie score, the thought struck me that Elfman – despite his seemingly permanent place on Hollywood’s music A-list – hasn’t scored too many sprawling space sagas. Planet Of The Apes isn’t really a sprawling space saga – its “space” scenes are confined to the movie’s opening minutes – but the music for those scenes is an interesting taste of how Elfman would handle the territory that is so often associated with Williams, Goldsmith, Horner and others more frequently regarded as “sci-fi composers.”

When the action comes jarringly down to Earth, the race is on for the film’s hero to outrun the apes, and for Elfman to do things differently from Jerry Goldsmith. As attached as I am to the original 1968 movie and its soundtrack, I found Elfman’s treatment of similar scenes to be more than satisfactory – in fact, they’re hugely enjoyable purely as a listening experience (they didn’t hurt the movie either, though arguably there were things other than the music that did hurt it). In some regards, it’s not entirely dissimilar from Goldsmith’s score because it doesn’t need to be – it’s not a case of anyone’s ideas being ripped off, it’s a case of both composers bowing to the tribally-rhythmic obvious.

The original single-disc soundtrack has been given fresh coat of remastered paint, and sounds great if you’re still attached to the original tracks and running order. (I still admit to enjoying Paul Oakenfold’s movie-dialogue-heavy “Rule The World Remix” as a guilty pleasure; Oakenfold probably does too, since it helped to raise his Hollywood profile, which now includes his own film scores.) Rounding things out are a selection of “source” cues Elfman concocted for scenes which needed “in universe” background music.

Planet Of The Apes was meant to launch a new generation of 20th Century Fox’s venerable Apes franchise for the 21st century, and its hugely-hyped launch seemed to all but guarantee that. Somewhere between the movie just not being as shocking or interesting as the 1968 original, and the inevitable anti-reboot backlash, it managed to fall between the cracks despite the hype. Elfman’s soundtrack remains possibly the most valid element of the movie – much like the re-release of the music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (also reissued by La-La Land), it was ripe for reassessment despite being 4 out of 4only a decade old. I felt a little let down by the music from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, so maybe this re-release could serve to remind the director and producers of the next Apes reboot-sequel-prequel-thingie that Elfman’s still out there – and he definitely knows how to go ape.

Order this CD

    Disc 1: Film Score Part 1

  1. Main Titles (film version) (3:53)
  2. Deep Space Launch / Space Station / Power Outage (2:36)
  3. Thumbs Up / Trouble (5:57)
  4. Pod Escape / New World / The Hunt (4:13)
  5. Ape City (2:13)
  6. A Look / Unloading /Thade’s Inspection / Ari Watches / The Branding (3:44)
  7. Ari Buys a Pet (1:24)
  8. Leo Wants Out / Dental Exam (2:12)
  9. Thade’s Desire (1:35)
  10. The Dirty Deed (1:54)
  11. The Escape (3:39)
  12. Trust / Escape (3:32)
  13. In the Forest /Into the Pond / The Messenger (2:29)
  14. Unused / Thade Gets His Way / Ari Connects (3:49)
  15. The Story (3:00)
  16. Scarecrow Stinger / The Camp / Raid (5:20)
  17. Thade Goes Ape (2:42)
  18. Calima (7:22)
  19. The Army Approaches (3:03)
  20. Thade’s Tent (2:10)
  21. Discovery (5:07)
  22. Preparing for Battle (3:51)
    Disc 2: Film Score Part 2

  1. The Charge (4:44)
  2. The Final Confrontation Landing / Showdown (8:34)
  3. The Aftermath / Thade’s Suite (7:31)
  4. Ape Suite #
  5. 4:59)
  6. Ape Suite #
  7. 2:36)
  8. Rule The Planet Remix (4:09)
  9. Thumbs Up / Trouble (alternate mix) (5:57)
  10. New World / The Hunt (alternate mix) (3:20)
  11. Dental Exam (alternate mix) (1:21)
  12. The Dirty Deed (alternate mix) (1:54)
  13. The Story (alternate mix) (2:59)
  14. Preparing for Battle (alternate) (3:35)
  15. The Final Confrontation (alternate mix) (7:14)
  16. The Aftermath / Thade’s Suite (unedited) (7:32)
  17. Camp Raid (percussion only) (4:08)
  18. Rule The Planet (overlay) (3:01)
  19. Source Music Montage (Band Source, Trendy Source, Jazzy Source, Calliope Source, Rave Source) (2:54)
  20. Dinner Source (1:40)
    Disc 3: Original Soundtrack Album

  1. Main Titles (3:49)
  2. Ape Suite #1 (3:52)
  3. Deep Space Launch (4:35)
  4. The Hunt (4:58)
  5. Branding The Herd (0:48)
  6. The Dirty Deed (2:27)
  7. Escape From Ape City / The Legend (5:57)
  8. Ape Suite #2 (2:42)
  9. Old Flames (2:10)
  10. Thade Goes Ape (2:37)
  11. Preparing For Battle (3:26)
  12. The Battle Begins (5:17)
  13. The Return (7:18)
  14. Main Title Deconstruction (4:22)
  15. Rule The Planet Remix (remixed by Paul Oakenfold) (4:03)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2012
Disc one total running time: 75:57
Disc two total running time: 78:24
Disc three total running time: 58:21