The Oscars are in a couple weeks and usually I’d review a couple of the nominees for Best Original Score. This year I decided to try something different since I listened to a lot of scores. For clarification, I consider the Oscars the end of one movie year and the start of a new one. Anything released before the Oscars I lump into the ‘new’ year. Enough about that. Back to scores. Like I said, I listened to so many of them in 2018 that I decided to do micro-reviews of them here as a wrap-up to the year. This list doesn’t include 2018 scores I already reviewed. Some I enjoyed, others were surprises, and still others needed work.
Slender Man (Ramin Dijadwi and Brandon Campbell)– Some parts of this score are pretty effective and scary. There’s just nothing to latch onto. It’s not one of those scores you’ll be humming the main theme to a week after you hear it. For what it is, it’s serviceable.
Bumblebee (Dino Marianelli)– As someone who enjoyed Steve Jablonsky’s scores for Transformers, I was hopeful Dino Marianelli would pick up where Jablonsky left off. Marianelli’s score is distinctly his own, which is great, but he also eschewed all of Jablonsky’s work. The results are decent but pretty forgettable compared to what came before him.
Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)– I agree with the Oscars. This score deserved the nomination. Its blend of traditional African music with orchestra was done in a way we haven’t seen since The Lion King in 1994. No wonder people love it.
Mortal Engines (Tom Holkenborg)– Well, what do you know? Tom Holkenborg finally composed a decent score. The brass and strings are still synthesized but from a composition standpoint it’s miles above Tomb Raider. Yes, drums are there but they don’t dominate. Holkenborg showed us he has a range and that’s wonderful.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Daniel Pemberton)– What happens when you toss together all the bad parts of modern action movie scores? You get this score. It’s not memorable and tries way too hard to be cool with copious drums and guitars.
Axl (Ian Hultquist)– I like electronics, I do. When they’re used exclusively you need the right composer for it to work. Ian Hultquist doesn’t pull it off. The beats that sound cool could just as easily be played in clubs. In fact, maybe they should be. Everything else is a mix of retreads of other modern scores.
Glass (West Dylan Thordson)– The best word to describe this score is noise. That’s about all there is except for samples of James Newton Howard’s far superior scores of past movies. I’m not sure why anyone would want to listen to this on its own.
The Kid Who Would Be King (Electric Wave Bureau)– Apparently movies catered to kids now have to feature a mostly electronic score. First Axl and now this. Electric Wave Bureau are no Daft Punk. Their score is forgettable and full of things we’ve heard before.
The Upside (Rob Simonsen)– Safe and traditional. That’s about all I can say here.