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Star Trek Into Darkness
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
Giacchino's score for Into Darkness is one of the things about this movie that are noticeably better than the 2009 production. But WOW: the music that plays during the End Titles, which I've enjoyed both times I've watched the movie in a theatre, is missing entirely from this CD. Instead, we have "Star Trek Main Theme" which is labeled as containing music from the original series, but really only contains the opening bars of that Alexander Courage theme. I assume that Varese was unwilling to pay royalties for the full Alexander Courage theme, which Giacchino integrated and arranged beautifully. Well, we should all cry "FOUL" -- especially Mr. Giacchino, who obviously takes great care in threading original franchise themes into his original work (no one has ever done it better). I would choose this CD in a heartbeat over the 2009 soundtrack album because the music has more range of feeling and I like the new. But I'm very disappointed at the unconventional decision not to include the End Titles music.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2013
NOTE: There are plot spoilers in this review that were unavoidable as I wanted to sensibly talk about the music and its context within, and impact upon, the film, If you haven't seen the film yet, I might suggest waiting to read this until you have.

The second of director J.J. Abrams' newly-revamped "alternate timeline" Star Trek movies is Star Trek Into Darkness, one of the most anticipated films of the early summer months of 2013. Set one year after the events of the last Star Trek film, Into Darkness finds Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise - First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), Chief Medical Officer Bones McCoy (Karl Urban), Chief Engineer Scott (Simon Pegg), Navigation Officer Sulu (John Cho), Communications Officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Ensign Chekov (Anton Yelchin) - on a mission to observe a primitive humanoid race on a distant planet. When one of the crew members finds his life in jeopardy Kirk is forced to violate the Starfleet prime directive of non-interference in order to rescue him, and upon his return to Earth is demoted by his commanding officer, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood). However, things suddenly change when a mysterious terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks a Starfleet installation and murders several high ranking officers, before fleeing to Kronos, the home world of the brutal and warlike Klingon race. Given permission to go after Harrison by Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), and with a cache of prototype photon torpedos on board, Kirk and the crew sets off on a covert mission... but before long doubts about Harrison's identity, and his motivations, begin to surface.

Star Trek Into Darkness, a few logical fallacies aside, is a superbly entertaining sci-fi romp, with an appealing and likeable cast that has grown admirably into the roles previously occupied by William Shatner and company, witty dialogue, some wonderfully exhilarating action set pieces, and several pertinent political statements regarding terrorism, drone strikes, and the nature of revenge. It's visually spectacular, with state-of-the-art special effects and some truly awe-inspiring shots, and has a great score by Michael Giacchino, who builds on the musical style initiated in his first Star Trek outing in 2009, and augments it with several new themes and motifs for the new aspects of his musical universe.

Several of the three themes from the first Star Trek - including the main Trek Anthem and the theme for Spock - feature prominently in the score, giving the two films a pleasing sense of musical continuity. Both the A- and B-phrases of the Anthem crop up regularly: on noble horns during the first moments of "Logos/Pranking the Natives", on searching strings in "Sub Prime Directive", and with chaotic dissonance and skewed chord progressions in the torturous "Earthbound and Down", for example. Later, "Warp Core Values" and "Buying the Space Farm" cleverly echo the emotional sacrificial elegy from the first Star Trek score which accompanied George Kirk's death on the USS Kelvin, linking the fates of father and son. The music segues into a beautiful, ghostly version of the Trek Anthem complete with heavenly choir, before climaxing with a gentle solo piano rendition that is wonderfully poignant.

The film's main new theme is the motif for the terrorist John Harrison. A slow-burning, languid, slightly feline-sounding theme for slithering strings and an undulating six-note rhythmic counterpoint, the theme actually first appears as a pretty, idyllic variation in "London Calling", where the menace provided by Harrison's presence is masked by elegant rhapsodic pianos and a lush, classical aspect. It makes its first full-fledged appearance two minutes into "Meld-Merized", announcing Harrison's destructive intent, and later makes its way into the sinister "Brigadoom", where Kirk and McCoy interrogate Harrison to strident string pulses, eerie glass bowl effects, and subtle allusions to Harrison's musical identity that grow bolder and more elaborate as the cue progresses to to the film's big reveal moment.

Perhaps most ingeniously, Giacchino blends Harrison's theme with fractured statements of the Star Trek anthem, playing against one another, to accompany Kirk and Harrison in the daring "Ship to Ship" space jump sequence, offset by dancing string lines and frenetic, anxious percussion writing. This is the third of the score's four main action set pieces, all of which raise the testosterone and blood-pressure levels considerably. In the first, "Pranking the Natives", Giacchino introduces light-fingered tribal drums, a tingling hammered dulcimer, and leaping, prancing string-and-woodwind runs to accompany Kirk and McCoy sprinting through the red-tinged forests of Nibiru, fleeing from the yellow-clad, white faced natives. In the subsequent and similarly-orchestrated "Spock Drops, Kirk Jumps", Giacchino re-arranges the B-phrase of the Anthem into a new form which seems to be channeling Howard Shore and his stepwise whole note ascending scales from The Lord of the Rings, possibly as a subtle and very clever fanboy allusion to the Nibiru volcano and its fiery cousin in Mordor.

The second action sequence - and the second new musical idea - is for the Klingon race, which makes its most prominent appearance in the show-stopping "Kronos Wartet". Jerry Goldsmith's rattling, percussive Klingon motif from the original Trek films is well established, and although Giacchino's take on the characters is different, it is no less effective. A mixed voice choir chanting in the Klingon language and a dark, descending motif for low brass and anvils is woven through a brutally powerful action sequence for the full orchestra. The actual brass motif, somewhat unexpectedly, reminds me of Alex North's growling motif for Vermithrax the Dragon from the 1981 score Dragonslayer, and conveys a similar sense of fear and danger.

The final action sequence, "The San Fran Hustle", is a hard-hitting, propulsive, full-orchestral chase through the streets of San Francisco, and features a wonderful re-arranged version of Spock's theme as an action motif. Whereas in the first film Spock's theme was a dreamy lament for erhu and cello, his theme as heard in Into Darkness is full of staccato strings, snare drum licks and punchy brass phrases, accompanying Spock's full-throttle sprint through the rubble in pursuit of his quarry. The finale of the cue sees Harrison's theme get another major workout in counterpoint to Spock's theme, a guest appearance from the Star Trek Anthem A-phrase as the cavalry arrives, and even a brief allusion to Gerald Fried's classic original series fight music as Spock goes all pon farr on Harrison's ass, before it eventually climaxes in a frenzy of percussion.

A lovely, sentimental performance of Sandy Courage's legendary Star Trek TV theme anchors "Kirk Enterprises", before the album closes with a large-scale concert version of the main theme, complete with a full and spine-tingling choir. A bonus cue, "The Growl", is a J.J. Abrams-penned piece of annoying electronica that features as source music in a nightclub sequence, and can be quickly skipped over.

What I like about Star Trek Into Darkness is that, with this score, Michael Giacchino has firmly cemented the musical identity of the new Trek universe. The Star Trek Anthem is now clearly established as the new theme for the franchise as a whole, sitting as equals alongside Courage's original series theme, and Jerry Goldsmith's masterpiece work for the 1979 movie and the subsequent Next Generation TV series. Which one you like best is clearly a matter of taste, but the nay-sayers who originally decried Giacchino's theme as unmemorable must now be forced to eat their words. Not only that, Giacchino's mastery of the orchestra, his clever variations on pre-existing themes, his knack for exhilarating percussive action, and his intelligent application of thematic ideas, makes Star Trek Into Darkness a worthwhile entry into the pantheon of Trek scores, and the first satisfying blockbuster score of summer 2013.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
One of the things that sets the Star Trek scores apart for other big movie scores is that composer Michael Giacchino isn't afraid to have fun with the music. And for as dark and serious as the new Trek film has been marketed (it is called "Into Darkness" after all), the score still has a lot of excitement and lightheartedness to it. While many composers rely too much on pounding percussion in these types of action movies, Giacchino doesn't go there. It seems he really believes that his themes can do the job - and he's right.

If you liked the last "Star Trek" soundtrack, the good news is that "Star Trek Into Darkness" builds off of that one. An example can be heard at the very opening of the soundtrack; fans will notice that the logo music is a variant of the logo music from the last "Star Trek". And there are many other themes from the previous score that are re-used in this score. This is a very good thing because the first soundtrack was fantastic - If you don't yet own that one, I highly recommend it: Star Trek. I like when there is a musical continuity in movie franchises; just as you want the characters and story to fit well with previous installments of a given franchise, you also want the music to pay homage and reference what has come before.

But "Into Darkness" isn't just a rehashing of old themes. There are some very original and unique tracks as well. An example is "The Kronos Wartet", which features some vocals. "London Calling" is another very nice track that seems to be a departure from anything we've heard in Star Trek before.

Overall, this is a highly recommended soundtrack and it's worthy of multiple listens. The score works very well on it's own, and it sounds great within the film too. I've listed a few of my favorite tracks below:

[3] Sub Prime Directive
[4] London Calling
[13] Kirk Enterprises

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is just the latest gift of Michael Giacchino's rich collaboration with producer/director J.J. Abrams - with his fantastic score for "Super 8", the last two "Mission Impossible" scores, and his work on the TV series "Lost", Giacchino is one of my favorite film composers working today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
I have never had such a bizarre love/hate relationship with any film composer as I do with Michael Giacchino. There are times when I listen to his music and my jaw goes slack because it's so breathtaking... and then there are times when I grit my teeth and go: "What on earth is this idiotic racket?" I was willing to completely write him off (something I hardly ever am willing to do with ANY composer, simply because I understand the demands of the job) - that is, until his entries for the '09 "Star Trek" film proved he can write some tremendous themes, and his scores for "John Carter" and "Super 8" proved that he found the 'on' switch somewhere back there.

The score for the 2009 "Star Trek" film was a very dichotomous mixture of insanely good themes ("Enterprising Young Men," etc.) and his - as I call it - 'exploding circus' action music (aka, "Nailing The Kelvin") which is very irritating to listen to on its own, and does not capture the 'organic' action music feel of many other composers. Because music is such a huge part of the Star Trek franchise - remember 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" was Horner's first big break, and he did wonderful work there, or remember Jerry Goldsmith and Cliff Eidelman's entries - I was somewhat disappointed with the first score, while simultaneously being enthralled with certain elements. As a Star Trek fan and a film score buff, I was very, very curious to see what Giacchino did with the new score.

First things first: the label's plan to do a double-release of the score (first on digital mp3, before the movie opened, and then on CD yesterday) was profoundly irritating. I like to pick up film scores before I see the movies they go to, and this 'forced' me to buy it twice (!!!) in order to listen to it before I saw this movie. Epic fail (although I'm sure they're very happy to get the money twice).

Now for an in-depth review of the actual tracks on the CD, to help understand what I liked and what I did not like. Some of it is personal preference, but it should help some choose whether or not to buy the disc for themselves, if they're torn... I try not to give any spoilers for the film away, but I can't guarantee it, so read carefully, please! :)

1. "Logos / Pranking The Natives" - The Grade-A theme from the '09 movie returns, with a less irritating 'tension-buildup' over the "Bad Robot" Logos than the previous iteration. The "Pranking The Natives" portion is a fun, fast-tempo roll through the orchestra. (****)

2. "Spock Drops, Kirk Jumps" - This builds off the main theme in the beginning to a strong percussive beat, and then pushes forward into a rather scatterred, non-melodic bit of tempo-keeping music, which then pulls back together only in the final few seconds into something musically fascinating. (***)

3. "Sub Prime Directive" - A hero/victory piece based on the main themes from the '09 film, brilliantly built upon and thoroughly engaging. Also contains the main Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage. (*****)

4. "London Calling" - A delicate start on the piano, with backbuilding strings building tension steadily to a hair-raising crescendo at the end. Some of the best 2 1/2 minutes of music ever written. I can not give this piece enough credit. 10 stars out of five. (*****)

5. "Meld-Merized" - A sad opening, which then builds tension rather ingeniously before backing off to sad music again. Nicely, nicely done! (*****)

6. "The Kronos Wartet" - Begins with strong percussive and banging sounds backed by a chanting chorus. The most idiotic piece of Klingon music ever, ever written. No Jerry Goldsmith ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture" [1979], "Klingon Battle"), James Horner ("Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" [1984], "Klingons"), or Cliff Eidelman ("Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country") comparisons possible here. This is literally the worst Star Trek music I've heard -- ever. The chorus sounds like a bunch of apes grunting at the beginning. Might as well be listening to Worf's hideous Klingon opera; Jerry Goldsmith is rolling over in his grave... Then the piece fades from the banging, stupid, ape-chanting sounds and turns introspective on the strings for a moderately interesting ending. The ending boosts the rating to a single star from none. (*)

7. "Brigadoom" - Very interesting theme for the Cumberbatch villain. Starts delicately and then builds militaristically to a very interesting conclusion. I wish that the 'buildup' lasted for a little longer, as just when the foot starts tapping to it it ends; still, it's very nice. (****)

8. "Ship To Ship" - High tension piece; fortunately not as 'exploding circus' as some of Giacchino's previous action music (such as his "Mission Impossible III" lunacy, or "Nailing The Kelvin" on the '09 Star Trek CD). The ending of the piece is a very nice building crescendo. (***)

9. "Earthbound And Down" - This is an interesting piece that works very well in the film for building the tension; much of it is not very 'musical' when listened to as a standalone piece, being more of a jarring 'tumble through the orchestra', but again we are fortunately spared the infamous 'exploding circus' sound. (***)

10. "Warp Core Values" - A militaristic start on the drums indicating someone's on a 'mission' turns into a hero piece that is very engaging... all in the first minute. This is followed by twenty seconds of 'tension-building' before turning into 'tragic' music that is extremely effective and enjoyable. (*****)

11. "Buying The Space Farm" - A very sad piece which is based in large part on "Labor of Love" from the previous film (which also happened to be one of the best segments of music in that movie). At 2:43, the music begins to turn completely into something fast-tempo and 'angry' ... perfect for the scene. (****)

12. "The San Fran Hustle" - A largely fast-tempo chase cue, with some slower music interspersed between bursts of kinetic energy. Most of this action music is not very musically interesting when listened to apart from the film on the CD (it actually starts to get annoying on its own about three minutes in), but it does drive the tempo in the actual movie. I prefer a more organic approach to action music, but this is simply a matter of taste. At about 3:24, the piece actually gets very musically interesting, and remains that way until the end, even building off some of the themes from the first film. (***)

13. "Kirk Enterprises" - A piece building nicely off some of the themes from the previous film, but changed up and made 'fresh' again. (****)

14. "Star Trek Main Theme" - Overall, an excellent piece to conclude the score, building on the themes from the '09 film very appropriately. My one complaint (and it's a big one) is that the timing of the notes for the Alexander Courage "Star Trek" theme (about 3:00 minutes in) is absolutely butchered again, just as Giacchino did at the end of the previous film. I mean - it's tortured. Any Star Trek fan who pays attention to the music (like me) has to be all but tearing his hair out at this insistence on changing it up just to show it was changed. Overall, though, the piece is terrific. (****)

15. "The Growl" (Digital bonus track not included on CD) - A club / dance song. Played in the scene where Scotty is in the bar in San Francisco. A mediocre addition to the score that seems very out of place compared to the orchestral music. (** for 'fit' with the score; *** or **** as a standalone song.)

Overall score: 3.7 out of 5.

To summarize, I feel that Giacchino did a nice job building off his themes from the 2009 movie, and most of his action music in this film is less jarring than his older 'exploding circus' sounds. This is the case even if it is not always as melodic or musically interesting as other music from the Star Trek universe by the Goldsmith or Horner.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I loved Michael Giacchino's soundtrack for the 2009 Star Trek movie. But I have to disagree with the other reviewer here. While I don't think Giacchino is just "rehashing of old themes," this soundtrack isn't nearly as distinctive as its predecessor. Aside from a few tracks, most casual listeners probably couldn't tell this soundtrack apart from the 2009 soundtrack. For example, even the intro theme is similar to the 2009 intro, but somewhat abbreviated.

One of the stronger points of the soundtrack is the "The Kronos Wartet." The chorus provides a unique sound for a Trek movie, but still manages to sound like a Klingon theme. It sounds like something you would hear on Kronos. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I imagine this track will give the movie a more operatic feel.

Overall, I certainly don't mean to complain about this soundtrack. If you want more of Giacchino's Trek music, Into Darkness does the trick. In a way, it almost feels like an expansion pack for the original soundtrack. I'm perfectly happy with that given that I loved the original, but if you were lukewarm about the original then Into Darkness won't give you anything new.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon May 17, 2013
Michael Giacchino's soundtrack for STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is very dynamic. Giacchino has a flair for the dramatic yet never losing sight of the lighter side of the human psyche. He is sure to be recognized as one of the great film composers in due time. "London Calling" is a magnificent and enigmatic piece, thought provoking stuff. "Sub Prime Directive" is a rousing and powerful composition and very sentimental in its realization. "The Main Theme" almost harkens back in style to James Horner's STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, yet adds a much more dramatic and urgent tone to the composition and ultimately leads into Alexander Courage's original fanfare. "Buying The Space Farm" was very elegiac and moving. In all, this is a very good and well-drawn soundtrack.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2014
I don't know if this was an error or the manufacturer didn't think to put this end, but the "end credit" track is not on this album. It's a little disappointing considering the reason I purchased this was to hear the beautifully written sound of "London Calling". This would have been included in the "end credit" track. Perhaps it will be on another album, but am concerned it wasn't on this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 18, 2013
I remember sitting down with my Playstation in 1999 and playing a video game called Medal Of Honor. Beyond the gameplay, WWII setting and long nights with friends playing till 1am there was the music. That's how I was introduced to Michael Giacchino. Ever since then I have listened, watched him grow as a composer, watch him accept his Oscar and he continues to move and thrill me with his work. Nothing has changed since 1999. Giacchino is still one of the most thrilling and talented auteurs working in the music industry, and his music continues to do wonders. Star Trek: Into Darkness sees Michael re-teaming with J.J. Abrams for their 4th picture together. Don't forget they also worked on two shows as well (Alias and LOST). The first Star Trek was a big, loud and thunderously exhilarating score. It also had heart and emotion. Giacchino made Star Trek his own as his themes and motifs took shape yet he still paid tribute to the past with Alexander Courage & Gene Roodenberry's original TV theme. The score was pure Giacchino, and it made the film an absolutely entertaining blast. Now Giacchino returns to the Star Trek universe with Star Trek: Into Darkness. This time the score is even stronger as it relies less on the bold themes and more on structure. It has heart and it's a riveting listen.

Star Trek has in incredible musical history from the TV series to the films. With composers like Courage, Horner, Goldsmith and many more adding their voice it makes it easier for a new composer to make it their own. As Giacchino brings us back into the world we immediately dive right into the plot. Cumberbatch plays Khan in the film and Giacchino gives him a brilliantly simple theme that is just perfect. The theme blends into the score very well and it's not overpowering in a way that calls attention to itself. It allows the character to define itself instead of the music defining it. This isn't "The Imperial March" or the Joker's theme here, which is great. The score relies less on the main theme this time around allowing it to feel like a legitimate extension of the first one yet still reminding us this is Star Trek. "The Kronos Wartet" (hilarious track title) is a fantastic track that brings in a chorus and really creates a deep and heavy sound while still being propulsive. Just listening to the flow of the music is stunning. The music goes where it naturally should but Giacchino always adds the ups and downs to make it constantly engaging. Everything wraps up nicely in a similar fashion to how the first film's score wrapped up.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fantastic orchestral romp through space. The music is deeper and more rounded this time. It gives a sense of weight to the film's plot and adds the epic scope that J.J. Abrams was going for. The score is always energetic with an organic emotional current running through it all. Unfortunately the album only runs for about 44-minutes, which is a shame. This is exactly what happened last time, but we got a limited edition 2-disc set for Star Trek 1. So I'm hoping the same will happen. I could get into a long rant about how recording in The United States always leads to disappointingly short albums (higher prices, fees and royalties for orchestras), but will not. I'm sure it makes sense financially to release a 44-minute album and then a limited issue expanded release, but it shouldn't be that way. Anyway, here's hoping this sells well and we get an expanded release in the future. For now we can enjoy Michael's terrific work in this compressed version, which is still superb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2015
Following the absolutely amazing shock to the system that was Michael Giacchino's 2009 score for the rebooted STAR TREK, expectations were astronomical for his follow up score INTO DARKNESS. In my opinion Giacchino succeeds in matching if not quite topping that work with his second adventure in a world where only some of cinema's greatest genre composers have gone before (need I even mention Goldsmith and Horner). The opening tracks set the pace, much like the movie itself, with rousing use of Giacchino's splendid Enterprise / Kirk cue (that I can't hear without getting goosebumps). Then we settle in the beautifully contrasting 'London Calling' that leads to the sympathetic yet sinister cue for 'villain' John Harrison (or Khan as he's unnecessarily known, but that's for another review). Much like the 2009 score, this score is also a delight to listen to from start to finish as a complete work. Other highlights included 'Ship To Ship' and 'Krono Wartet' that incorporates a Klingon choral section! Some other reviews here complain about the absence of the complete end titles score and I would agree that its a disappointment not to have that overture when listening to the work as a whole. This however was corrected with the release of an expanded edition, which also happened with the 2009 score. Though I do resent the double dipping, when a score is this much fun I'm happy to give Mr. Giacchino a little more cash. Here's hoping he stays on board for the third outing in 2016.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Michael Giacchino's score for Star Trek Into Darkness shows his comfort level with the material. With his score to the "first" movie, he was finding his way. He was experimenting and turning the traditional Star Trek score on its ear. With this score, he is still experimenting, but he's already found the sound he was looking for and so he throws himself all-in.

This score is bigger than the previous score. It's more complex. It has many more moving parts. Yet it is still true to what he already developed. The "Enterprising Young Men" theme is still her in all its glory. The soft, poignant moments are still here. Bombastic, Intense, Quiet, Slow: It's all here. It is, by far, a superior score to the the first score.

My one big gripe with this release is not the music itself, but what's missing. The full end-titles suite (with the Original Series theme) is not on this album. Granted, it is very similar to that found on the first score, but the completionist in my wants it on this score too.
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