AUDIO REVIEW: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES / MUSIC: MICHAEL GIACCHINO / LABEL: MUSIC ON VINYL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The only bad thing about the score is the absolutely terrible puns which sort of take the piss out of the seriousness of the movie, but also leave me shuddering with shame whenever I have to determine which are my favourites. I appreciate a sense of humor in a composer - a field which is assuredly and regularly prone to overly-serious thoughts - but this takes the cake in terms of ridiculous.
That said, the music is wonderful. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of the best films I saw in 2014, and revisiting it via Michael Giacchino's score makes me want to watch the film again and again. His work is perfectly paired to the scenery on film, much in the same way that Patrick Doyle's score for Rise of the Planet of Apes was, and allows for emotional context even in scenes where there's no spoken dialogue.
Close Encounters of the Furred Kind bends and twists, and the woodwinds achieve a bass resonance I never knew possible on my sound system. You can feel the tension of the first encounter between humans and apes in your very bones.
Monkey to the City begins the recurring return to the themes of the classic Apes films. With its reliance on xylophone, it hearkens right back to the work Jerry Goldsmith did, and his part in sonically defining those movies. It's even better when Giacchino fuses his woodwind-heavy approach to intensely dramatic scenes with Goldsmith's nervous xylophone aspects, as in Behind Simian Lines.
For all of the pounding, intense aspects of the film's score – and there are quite a few of them – Giacchino's also capable of quiet beauty, as with the opening moments of Monkey See, Monkey Coup, which is a lovely adagio for strings before a bell begins ringing, and it returns to the pulse-raising score which dominates the music. As a matter of fact, it's at this point that Giacchino's work begins to sound similar to nothing so much as Brad Fiedel's work on Terminator 2.
Much like Fiedel's work for that film, Giacchino utilizes brief moments of quiet beauty to break up a series of intense workouts on woodwind and tympani. While the brass section is utilized to a lesser extent than Fiedel, its appearance as part of the dramatic upsurge at the end of The Apes of Wrath is one of the finest moments on the score, especially as it feeds into a series of quiet, minimalist drum pieces only occasionally punctuated by other instruments.
The score somewhat peters out toward the end – for all the dramatic action in the film's final half hour, it appears that the music wasn't as dynamic as I recall. It's fairly quiet and restrained, and the music which played over the end credits is positively soporific. It's a bit of cool-down after the intensity of the preceding moments, and leaves a rather anticlimactic sense of wanting when it's all said and done.
Music on Vinyl's packaging includes two 180-gram LPs on silverback-coloured vinyl (which is, essentially, black and grey marble) in a numbered gatefold sleeve. The packaging features some amazing shots from the film, with the opened gatefold presenting a fantastic look at Malcolm encountering Caesar and the rest of the apes on horseback. The insert features some lovely shots of Giacchino, as well.
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