10 Scores that are better than the movie

This is an idea that’s been brewing for some time now.  I listen to soundtracks more than anything else, and I’d noticed how quite a few of the ones I really like are from films that aren’t considered that great.  I couldn’t initially think of 10 movies, I think I only got as far as 8; but thanks to the wonders of social media I was helped by others.  So, many thanks to +Steve Nixon +Jaina Mistry +Daniel Silva +Josh Murphy +Valerie J +Benjamin L. Harris and +Alain Kemp for their help, ideas and discussion.

So here is my final list.  Maybe you agree with me, maybe you think I’ve missed some howlers, or (more likely) you think I’m being unduly harsh on Up!  But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.

For those on Spotify, the playlist of all these scores is here.

So, in no particular order:

TRON: Legacy (2010)

The Film:

Practically a re-run of the original 1982 movie, Legacy is surprisingly stale given the potential for excellent effects and Jeff Bridges; but Bridges is kinda cancelled out by Garrett Hedlund who is clearly trying to be as dynamic as Sam Worthington.  Great fun perhaps, but an unnecessary remake/reboot.

The Score:

Daft Punk’s thumping soundtrack is definitely the best part of the film: brilliantly complimentary to the digital world of The Grid and loud!  My go to album of choice if I need to wake up.

The Wolfman (2010)

The Film:

Style over substance is the order of the day in Joe Johnston’s version of a classic story where the effects are great but the characters are generally bored.

The Score:

Though I’m not generally a fan of Danny Elfman, his score here is very atmospheric and combines with the great Gothic design of the the film to give a lasting impression; shame the rest of the film doesn’t.

Pearl Harbour (2001)

The Film:

A typical Michael Bay overblown stodgy mess of a film full of characters no-one cares about.  The film features a couple of dramatic set pieces strung together with lots of boring nothingness.

The Score:

Hans Zimmer has composed some of my favourite scores, Gladiator got me into orchestral soundtracks.  Even for a turkey the size of Pearl Harbour, Hans manages to rise above it and create a sense of longing and loss that Michael Bay could only dream of.

Transformers (2007)

The Film:

Another Michael Bay film on the list, but actually this is rather a guilty pleasure of mine.  For all the appalling failings of the next two films, Transformers actually has (I think) moments of style, and a main character that we can get on with.  I freely admit that this isn’t a great film, I just think it’s hugely enjoyable.

The Score:

For all I enjoy this film, I like the score even more and I listen to it a lot.  Without a weak track Steve Jablonsky’s score is rousing, full of excellent themes and generally fantastic.


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

The Film

An over-bloated over-storied and overly-complicated entry into the POTC series, but at least Geoffrey Rush was back in it.  There are a few nice moments in it, and it’s kinda fun if you ignore all the ridiculous crosses and double crosses, but overall the film is just a big mess.

The Score

The second Hans Zimmer score on this list, and he again proves that sub-par movies are no obstacle to a composer of his talent.  There are many tunes on this soundtrack that are great, but Up is Down is brilliant and is also rather a fun part of the film.

UP (2009)

The Film

Now I know that lots of people really like this film, but it just did my head in.  Other than the first 20 heartbreaking minutes, I just found the whole thing daft and unnecessary.  So essentially from the point when Russell turns up, the film just becomes completely un-entertaining and downright annoying.

The Score

Michael Giacchino’s score however is elegant, moving and perfectly uplifting.  Indeed the piece that I’ve picked as representative, encapsulates the best part of the film.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The Film

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about The Phantom Menace?  Jake Lloyd, Jar Jar Binks and Ewan McGregor’s plummy accent.  Rather than Death Stars, asteroid chases and AT-ATs we are treated to politics, trade negotiations and Darth Vader shouting Yippee!  It’s a good Sci-fi film (with an amazing light sabre fight), it’s just not a good Star Wars film.

The Score

John Williams rarely disappoints, and the score to The Phantom Menace is no different.  Perhaps not as amazing as his Empire Strikes Back score, but ranging from the military themes of the Droid army and some great fanfares to the dramatic Duel of Fates this score is nonetheless very good.

Clash of the Titans (2010)

The Film

Rushed out with post-production 3D in the wake of Avatar’s successes, this is a real train wreck of a film.  Confusing, headache – inducing 3D (at one point I took my comedy glasses off to massage my sore head and realised that the glasses were making no difference to the image) and featuring personality vacuum himself; Sam Worthington.  A truly bad film.

The Score

From the man who gave us the brilliant score for Game of Thrones, Ramin Djawadi has composed another top notch soundtrack to this abomination.  There are plenty of dramatic themes as well as a few surprisingly thumping tunes too.  Listening to it, I almost want to see the film again, but not quite.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

The Film

Starts out promisingly, but by the time Logan escapes following his adamantium treatment, the film degenerates into inconsistent contrivance and farce.

The Score

Harry Gregson-Williams score is a fairly dramatic affair (unlike the movie) with some great themes and a real cinematic feel to it.

Man of Steel (2013)

The Film

Possibly the biggest disappointment of 2013, I was looking forward to seeing Snyder’s interpretation, but instead of a Superman we got a morally questionable weapon of mass destruction.  A completely preventable Jonathan Kent death and a pointless Lois Lane completed a completely mediocre unnecessary film.

The Score

The third and final Hans Zimmer entry on this list, and another cracker.  Clearly the usual Superman themes were given a wide berth, and the score is all the better for it.  Where John Willams originally went for a score as iconic as the character himself, Zimmer went for real power and the result is quite tremendous.

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