What You Will Hear: Not your standard Giacchino orchestrations, melodies, or harmonies. Everything from piano to experimental percussion and big choir is used. The music is less fantastical and more realistic drama than most of his scores.
Standout Tracks: Every note will hold your attention – welcome to the HoF! Favorites: Assault of the Earth, Exodus Wounds, The Bad Ape Bagatelle, Don’t Luka Now, The Ecstasy of the Bold, Apes Together Strong, A Tide In the Affair of Apes, Planet of the Escapes, More Red Than Alive, Migration, Paradise Found, End Credits
Will You Be Humming Along? The the main theme from the previous movie returns, and there are several new motifs as well.
The album this makes me want to dust off: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – Joe Kraemer (Tell me you don’t hear some Solomon Lane in that baddie theme...)
Will I come back to it? Absolutely. In the weeks leading up to its release, this score received an unusually high level of attention from general film reviewers. I knew it would be good – it is Michael Giacchino, after all. But, could it really be worth all the mentions? From the very first track, it became clear that I was experiencing something different from this established composer. But, groundbreaking? I still wasn’t sure. There is a specific moment on the second track that immediately made me realize I was in for something special. The flute and string statements are like nothing I’ve ever heard from Giacchino in the past (see: Assault of the Earth). They’re creepy and beautiful all at the same time. As this track progresses, the action picks up but is (again) something new. Not since Lost, have we heard Giacchino so raw. He has ventured completely and wonderfully off his well-worn and amazing musical path, with fantastic results.
The major characteristic of this score is the distinct lack of war. It is in the title, but not often found in the music. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was much more centered on tribal action. This time around, things are often dark and desolate, but it is more like the aftermath of a war. Besides the piano solos and brighter tone of the final three tracks, this is absolute the dirtiest Giacchino music to date. If war does indeed play a role in this story, the composer has taken an interestingly restrained (but still heartbreaking) approach.
The new themes are some of the most simple and repetitive ever, but they work. They work because Giacchino takes us on a true journey through his established orchestrations (piano or full orchestra) to completely new collections of instruments. That same journey takes us through familiar melodic and harmonic territory, but also ventures in new directions. For example, the descending theme first introduced at the end of Exodus Wounds is amazingly confusing. Is it for a villain? A hero? Something else entirely? Whatever it represents, it never feels like it settles. Surrounded by the dire soundscape that dominates this score, this theme stands out in an oddly fascinating way.
War for the Planet of the Apes is not the best score of the year. It isn’t the most enjoyable. But, none of that matters. It is a groundbreaking work for the composer. It is a new sound expertly mixed with the old. Whether he meant it to be or not, this is a statement score for Giacchino. He has put us all on notice that his levels of creativity, already considerable by any measurement, might be much deeper than previously believed.
War for The Planet of the Apes was provided courtesy of The Krakower Group and Sony Masterworks. Thank you!