The prognosis is damn near unanimous, even if the degrees of effusive praise may understandably vary – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best movies of the year, and certainly the best blockbuster to emerge thus far in a year of lacklustre contemporaries (Transformers: Age of Extinction anyone? I thought not.)
It features an intelligently written script which doesn’t sacrifice any of the weighty matters under discussion in favour of action, characters, particularly those of the ape variety who possess deep, rich motivations that make sense and with which anyone with a heartbeat can identify, fine, FINE performances (thank you Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell and Jason Clarke most notably) … and the sublimely evocative music of one of the most talented movie composers today, Michael Giacchino.
With a wide body of work to his credit, both on TV and in the movies, Giacchino has given musical life to projects as diverse as UP and Ratatouille from Pixar, many of J. J. Abram’s Bad Robot projects including the Star Trek reboot films and Super 8, TV shows like Lost, Fringe and Alias, and many, many other films including Cloverfield, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and upcoming features like Jupiter Ascending and Jurassic World.
That is but a snapshot of his extensive and eclectic body of work which has seen him either win or be nominated for multiple Grammy and Academy Awards including the holy trifecta of Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Awards for the enchanting, emotionally-rich UP, which benefited immensely from his touching, delicately emotional score.
But what really has people talking right now is the impressive soundtrack he has created for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a movie which moves from the frenzy of the apes hunting deer in Muir Woods to quite scenes of both human and ape life and finally to the big climactic battle scene full of Sturm und Drung.
That’s quite a lot of narrative and thematic ground to keep pace with but Michael Giacchino’s score never falters for a moment, every note and movement perfectly calibrated to the scene playing out on the screen before you.
The music of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is stirring, passionate, powerful, robust, fast-and-furious, slow-and-contemplative and stirringly beautiful as needed, with Gabe Toro of Cinemablend noting:
“What’s notable about the score is how BIG it is. At times, the percussion overwhelms the material in a way that suggests an older score, perhaps a lost composition from the original Planet Of The Apes. On a few tracks he opts for more traditional chanting, but the combination of old-school theatrics and more contemporary ideas feels organic.”
While the rich variations in the soundtrack’s sonic landscape represent a change of pace for Giacchino with Toro noting that “this is a departure for the normally-jazzy Giacchino”, a composer who often favours “bouncy, jittery xylophone-heavy stuff”, one thing that hasn’t changed is his love of hilarious puns to go with his music.
It doesn’t matter how silly or serious the film is, Giacchino is a man who hasn’t yet met a pun he doesn’t like, a welcome change from creative types who can sometimes take themselves a little too seriously in the pursuit of their art.
There is no doubt that the man is a musical artist of the highest calibre, but he also possesses a wicked sense of humour, and a down to earth approach to life which is why this very serious movie with an appropriately serious soundtrack comes complete with song titles such as these:
1. “Level Plaguing Field”
2. “Look Who’s Stalking”
3. “The Great Ape Processional”
4. “Past Their Primates”
5. “Close Encounters of the Furred Kind”
6. “Monkey to the City”
7. “The Lost City of Chimpanzee”
8. “Along Simian Lines”
9. “Caesar No Evil, Hear No Evil”
10. “Monkey See, Monkey Coup”
11. “Gorilla Warfare”
12. “The Apes of Wrath”
13. “Gibbon Take”
14. “Aped Crusaders”
15. “How Bonobo Can You Go”
16. “Enough Monkeying Around”
17. “Primates for Life”
18. “Planet of the End Credits”
19. “Ain’t That a Stinger”
It is one of the finer soundtracks out at the moment and even if you don’t know your orang-utan from your bonobo, your chimpanzee from your gorilla, and have no plans to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – what?! Are you mad?! To the cinema with you now and don’t dilly-dally! – this body of work is exquisitely, profoundly beautiful and powerful stuff, and well worth taking the time to immerse yourself in.
At least until the apes take over and steal your iPod …