Lots of monstrous bellowing accompanies SUPER 8, a film that sports what’s likely the most eagerly awaited Giacchino soundtrack to hit this month, especially for score fans who share the obvious movie geek love that J.J. Abrams’ put into his scary valentine to all 1970’s / 80’s things Spielberg and Amblin. Accompanying all of that director’s own production’s was the lushly adventurous music of John Williams, classic scores that could at once conjure a child’s wide-eyed wonderment towards the fantastic, then freak the bejesus out of them in the next. It’s a similar balancing act that Giacchino does here for an alien with a justifiably bad attitude. Yet both film and score prove there’s a big difference between soulless copycatting and a loving, spot-on homage.
It’s something that Giacchino first displayed in his Williams-isms for the first few MEDAL OF HONOR games, which functioned as ersatz Indiana Jones scores, as composed by someone whose musical enthusiasm, and unique talent, marked him as far more than a fanboy. For a movie that deals with a movie-adoring band of brothers (and one hardly enthusiastic girl at first), SUPER 8’s real triumph is how it’s a movie about movies without continually referencing them. Ditto with how well Giacchino co-opts John Williams’ greatest hits into how own, ever-growing voice. SUPER 8 is a virtual checklist of the maestro, from the lurching motifs that signal JAWS and JURASSIC-scale monsters, to the CE3K military brass as army trucks roll out in a hapless attempt to do some damage. Delicate, twinkling melodies represent that special summer, with the big bells and soaring orchestra marking the misunderstood E.T’s ascent to the heavens (likely still accompanied by some human snacks for the trip). Giacchino’s created the musical equivalent of that big Spielberg dolly-in from start to finish, with strikingly distinctive themes and motifs the camera motors that drive this score’s spectacular production values.
Better yet, SUPER 8 has a tremendous vitality to it, closer to the rousing music that Giacchino was able to give Abrams’ STAR TREK than the understandably downbeat existentialism that filled many a season of LOST. SUPER 8 also offers far more upbeat attitudes for Giacchino to play in his young characters than the forlorn vampire lovers of LET ME IN, though there’s more than a bit of melancholy and loss in these small town kids. Here the bittersweetness is constantly being jolted with spook house adrenalin and snarling, scrambling brass and strings, making SUPER 8 as much about emotion as it is the gradual, gee-whiz scares of the effects reveals. It’s a winningly melodic formula that Williams had for his Spielberg summer vehicles, a time when these kinds of movies always seemed to yield a classic. Doubtless the magical, touching fear that Giacchino’s score recreates here will make SUPER 8’s younger viewers think the same about thirty years down the line when someone’s using this composer as their textbook. Maybe they’ll even employ Giacchino’s wacky Herrmann/ Theremin library goof music as the soundtrack for their own zombie flick.
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